Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
To finish what has been a very successful year for Sydney Kendo Club,
we are organizing a Christmas lunch on the 8th of December, 1pm (after
training) @ the Korean Bakehouse on 11 George St, North Strathfield.
We are planning some fun activities and prizes etc to make the
afternoon fun, so don't miss out!
Please note partners are welcome. Please RSVP to Jayson ASAP.
Hope to see you all there.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Every year, the All Japan Kendo Federation runs a photo contest.
This year's top selections have been announced and here is a link to them.
11th AJKF Photo Contest Results
There are some really nice shots. Kids always feature in this contest and this year was no different.
Other years can be found here
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Well done everyone who participated in the competition on the weekend. I wish I was there to see it. Can someone please write a breakdown of the day for the poor suckers like me that missed it? Maybe post some video?
Hopefully, I can compete in the next comp as I'm getting way too envious to sit on the sidelines anymore!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Thanks Dave for that wonderful video clip. It was so refreshing and humbling to be brought back to the basics of why we enjoy kendo and the fundamental challenges that it brings every time we get out there with a shinai. It also takes us out of our ego's for a minute to see beyond simply the desire to 'win' or 'save face'.
Please allow me to share a story, if I may... I remember a beautiful sunny spring day when I was riding on the bus and opposite me sat a young man with his mother. His disability was obvious to all but himself as he happily enjoyed the bus ride. When it was time to get off the bus he jumped to his feet, picked up his mother's shopping bags, ran out the back door and patiently waited for his mother to follow. He stood there with his eyes closed and his head tilted back to feel the full warmth of the sun on his face. He was completely in the joy of the moment, appreciating what the rest of us take for granted and reflecting the simplicity of what happiness really is. It brought tears to my eyes, and this story comes back to me on occasions such as watching the video clip Dave posted.
I don't want to make this entry about me, but simply wish to say that after having a long absence from playing kendo I was reminded last week about the simple joys, and challenges, of swinging that piece of bamboo, and am grateful to Dave for reinforcing this wonderful message in such a simple and effective way.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Ok, so I thought I was on my comeback trail about 6 months ago but it was a false alarm. Sure the pain in my buggered shoulder was starting to ease but I wasn't prepared for the subsequent tightening of my whole shoulder. I realized that this was the 'frozen' part of what they told me was a 'frozen shoulder'. As the pain subsided the joint simply got more and more constricted so that I could only raise my right arm to about a 45 degree angle, only reach the top of my butt with the assistance of my other arm and no sideways movement at all. It was a bit scary really.
I had to go to the US for 2 weeks in May/June and thankfully this coincided with my shoulder finally giving a hint that it might free itself up a bit. Luckily, as I had a lot of camera gear to lug around. Since my return home I've been stretching it and just doing some gentle suburi to a point where I decided I had enough movement to come back to training at last!
It was great to see everyone again and to be putting the keikogi on again. It was also wonderful to see and meet our visitors from Japan, and although I'm not quite ready to take on the hardcore jigeiko that I witnessed that night, simply swinging a shinai and taking the beginners through their paces was an absolute joy.
Try imagining taking a year out of your kendo life and you will only get a hint of what it is really like without having to wake up every night for 6 months in pain and then wondering if you will ever get full movement back in your arm. I'm not saying this to get sympathy - I'm happy to be back training and on the mend - I just want people who get an injury to do something about it immediately, learn from my experience and if it means taking a few weeks off then do it and give your body the chance to recover. That way it will simply be a bit of an annoying inconvenience, but isn't that better than losing a year of kendo?
I feel a bit like a broken record on this so I'll try to write about other things from now on!
Good luck to you all at the Founders Cup and I wish you every success in the gradings and comp. I'll be with you in spirit.
I'm in Japan for the next 2 weeks but will be back at the dojo on a regular basis when I return.
It's great to be back...
We were very lucky to have the JMSDF visit both our Five Dock dojo and Willoughby dojo on Monday August 6th and Wednesday August 8th
On Monday (6-Aug), I was the first one in the dojo because I hold the key.
I setup the clock, mopped the floor twice to ensure it is as clean as possible.
Colin Minter arrived, followed by Payne Sensei, and then Dave and so on.
No one knew how many of JMSDF visitors would join us until they arrived.
Oh my .. there are 6, and then 12 and more, just filling the tiny community hall in a minute.
When everyone settled, there was 18 or more visitors from JMSDF.
The home team was fairly strong, Payne Sensei, Cross Sensei returned with his whole family, Fukuda Sensei from Japan, and of course Itakura Sensei plus many seniors from our club and other clubs.
All together, the head count from the photo was 37. I recall at one time, there were more than 13 pairs having jikeiko at the same time. It seemed everyone enjoyed this event.
After the training, photos were taken by Tomoki Mashiba, unfortunately my old laptop couldn't read the camera's SD-card. Mr Tomoki offered to bring me the USB key on Wednesday. Instead he burnt a business-card size CDR for me, thanks Mr Tomoki. He couldn't join us tonight so I'll send an email to thank him for his photos and prompt delivery.
Wednesday (8-Aug), we had seven visitors from JMSDF.
Again we had a good time. Photos and presents were exchanged and then biru-keiko at the pub where everybody enjoyed themselves (and a few drinks).
Here are some more photos
Friday, July 20, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Last month I was lucky enough to be able to spend a week in Japan. Although the priority of this trip was to catch up with a good friend of mine, it also gave me an opportunity to train in Japan.
My plan was to train three times in Hamamatsu - a city situated approximately half way between Tokyo and Osaka and once in Osaka.
I arrived at the Hamamatsu Dojo early as I wanted to make sure I was nice and limber for what I knew would be a fairly intensive training (I trained in Hamamatsu last year when I visited Japan).
When I arrived I was met by Sensei. He welcomed me and pointed me towards the change rooms. Once changed I started my stretching as other members of the dojo arrived and began to do the same.
The first things that came to mind when entering the dojo were:
1. How nice the dojo was. It is a small community based dojo, purpose built for kendo, with a wonderfully sprung floor.
2. How hot and humid the temperature was. It had been about 32C that day and it didn't seem like it had cooled at all.
The warmup began with some stretching, with a focus on ballistic (bouncing stretches) especially to the knees and waist. This was followed by:
Sayumen with Hiraki-ashi x30
Double time Men x30
And Haya-suburi x30 (although this was called choyaku-suburi).
The class, which by now was about 15 people (from about age 24 up), was split into two lines and the training consisted of the following:
1. Kiri Kaeshi, with an extra men cut added at the end to bring you back to the original starting position (rotating 3 times).
2. Kihon Men x4 - x2 rotations
3. Semete Men x4 - x2
4. Kihon Kote Men x4 - x2
5. Semete Kote Men x4 - x2
6. Men Do x4 - x3
7. Kote Do x4 - x3
8. Kote Men Do x4 - x3
9. Kote Kaeshi Men x4 - x3
10. Kote Kaeshi Kote x4 - x3
11. Men Kaeshi Do x4 - x3
12. Men Kaeshi Kote - x4 x3
13. Men Kaeshi Men - x2 Receiving on the left side of the shinai and x2 on the right side - x3
14. Your own Kote oji waza x4 - x2
15. Your own Men oji waza x4 - x2
16. Kote Men Taiatari Hiki-Men, Men x4 - x3
17. Jigeiko - 1-2 minute matches - x4
18. Kiri Kaeshi
19. Sei retsu, seiza, mokuso and rei.
20. Sensei addressed class on the training.
All this was done at an amazingly fast pace, with an intensity which was infectious. There was no stoppages at anytime, unless you were the odd person. The total training time would have been just over an hour.
I felt totally exhausted at the end, but I was on such a high. A very satisfying way to begin my holiday.
My second training session was on the Friday and the class was a lot smaller with just 5 people and unfortunately no sensei. The training regime was identical to the previous Wednesday.
One thing I do want to mention, there were two kids at this training, a girl who I guess would have been around 10 and a boy who was probably 1 or 2 years older. These two kids were amazing.
I have never seen anything like it, they had all the skills - I was in awe.
My third and final training session in Hamamatsu was on the Monday and it was a special one. Not only was it my last there but also because it was an opportunity for me to train with a friend who plays a very important role in my kendo.
The training was much the same as other nights with the following exceptions.
The Kaeshi wazas were replaced with:
Do Uchio-toshi Men x4 - x3
Kote Uchio-toshi Men x4 - x3
Men Uchio-toshi Men - Migi x2, Hidari x2 - x3
Also, when performing the Kote Men Taiatari Men, the Motodachi performs an oji waza of their choice against the final men cut.
After the jigeiko and kiri kaeshi, everybody lined up to do Uchikomi-geiko against Sensei, each one lasting about a minute and performed at a frantic pace - almost kakari-geiko like, but still maintaining kihon cuts.
Class then ended with seiza, mokuso, rei and again Sensei addressed the class on the training performed and there was also a photo opportunity. Finally, I approached Sensei and received some wonderful feedback (translated for me thankfully).
The next night I was in Osaka and thanks to Andrew I had been able to arrange a training session at the Yoseikai dojo. The dojo was immaculate but felt like a sauna (it was incredibly hot inside) and I knew this night was going to be something to remember. There were plenty of people there, probably 30 in total, maybe more.
Seiza and mokuso was very fast and the rei were all done standing.
Training started with Kiri kaeshi repeated about 6 times, then it was straight into Jigeiko.
I was fortunate enough to play all 4 Sensei and about 3 more people, including George, the contact Andrew gave me. Training lasted a bit over an hour and then seiza, mokuso and rei were performed. I also got to talk to all sensei who provided me with some very nice comments and excellent feedback.
It is hard for me to describe the feeling I had after the week in Japan - I don't know what superlatives I should use. It was a kendo utopia for me.
I will say that it took a few days for me to really digest everything I have learnt. The challenge for me is to somehow merge that knowledge into my kendo.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Some will have noticed that I have not been at training for the last couple of weeks. Basically I've been moving house and just starting a new job...which thus far appears to require very late hours.
I would just like to say its not an easy thing balancing, work, family, relationships and other life stuff around Kendo training. I can now see how people can get distracted and just move onto other things more important and let Kendo slide.
I think as a club we need to bond a little better and keep encouraging our mates that have a lot on to come back when they are less busy. At the end of the day we want people to come back so we have more people to play.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Since I have some downtime in my Osaka hotel I thought I would try and share my experience from the Australian Kendo Championships.
The weekend was a great learning experience for me. I think I learnt more about my own kendo than anything else, especially what areas I need to work on and what I am working towards.
The Saturday morning was cold, especially the gymnasium floor.
I started my warm up early and I thought it was a solid warm up, however in hindsight I was having trouble with my nerves. I have always thought that a bit of nervous energy is a good thing but as I was soon to find out, the controlling of it is not always that easy.
The opening ceremony was something I`ll never forget. Walking out to represent my state for the first time - in a line with my team mates and standing proudly and singing along as the national anthem was played is stuff of schoolboy dreams. A wonderful feeling.
My pool matches were well into the draw so I had plenty of time to watch others play. I was surprised at the level of kendo - not that it was good or bad, but it seemed to be very mixed. There were obviously some really talented individuals but also others that seemed out of place.
My first match came up and I felt that I had everything ready - the body was warm and the mind seemed calm. However I just couldn't seem to get into the match. I suppose flat would be the best word to describe my performance. I was playing a very reactive style and it wasn't good. I went on to lose the match 2 zip, (2 kote). Certainly not the way I wanted my weekend to start - over as soon as it began.
Fortunately for me the guy who defeated me lost his next match which gave me some hope.
This time I was feeling different. I knew what I had to do.
I thought I played well in this match - winning it 2-1 (two men cuts) however the conceding of a kote spelt the end to my individual campaign. The other two played a tie breaker with the latter dude (sorry I forgot his name) going through to the next round.
As I said earlier I really discovered parts of my kendo that I could work on - both from a physical side but also a mental side.
The rest of the day went by with me taking photos for the organisers. the Dan Individuals was very impressive to watch and I managed to take some nice photos which I`ll share with you all later.
The next day was the Team events. Kyu were up first and I turned up to the venue in keikogi and hakama all ready to go (sans a change of clothing for later too).
During warm up with Burwood Mike I managed to cut my big toe so the last few moments of warm up I was busy strapping up a bloody toe but that was OK. It wasn't the best way to start the day but what can you do.
Our first match was against South Australia - I was playing third and by the time I was up the scores were one a piece. I scored a kote early but conceded two men to lose the match. I thought I played pretty well. My only criticism of myself was I was a bit predictable going for the winning cut. Elaine and Phil played exceptionally well to win both their matches and put us into the 2nd round against an understrength WA side.
With WA only able to field 3 players it was a strange match to be involved with. I think we lost the first match but won the remaining (including the 2 forfeits). I played Alison Craven and won the match 2-0. A men and a kote (which shouldn't have been paid but that happens). This put us into the final against ACT which incidentally was the ANU team that gave us the 5 - nil drubbing at Macquarie University last month.
Ephragm won his first match, Mike went down in his. I was up next and again I thought I played pretty well. I was certainly attacking more than my opponent however he picked off my kote on one of my men attempts (I was too close again...).
The last minute or so I felt I was really putting the pressure on him and I think I went close a couple of times but alas it was not to be. The siren sounded and it finished 1 zip.
Elaine and Phil both played well but in the end ACT finished up being victors. They were a very strong team (3 members finished in the top 4 of the individuals if memory serves me correctly) .
All in all I thought it was a great effort by NSW. Everyone brought their best kendo to each match and gave it their all.
The NSW Dan team were very dominate in their matches and went on to win the title.
So that was the weekend - from a first timers perspective. I didn't go into the details of the Dans, Women's and Veterans matches as I was just there to take it all in but the whole weekend was a wonderful experience and something that will hopefully benefit my kendo in the long run.
I will fill everyone in on my training here in Japan later this week. I had my 3rd and final training session in Hamamatsu last night and I have a training session in Osaka tonight. There is already plenty to write about but I will save it all for later
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Two weeks ago, a journo from the Sydney Morning Herald visited the club and participated in the Wednesday night beginners class.
The article describing his Kendo experience was released in last weeks Radar section. For those of you who didn't see the article, here's the link to it!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Korean Kumdo Championship has been held another year.
Jayson Chaplin, Taek Yang, Andrew Van Hamond, Toshio Nishimoto and
Takashi Itakura, - Dan Team Champions
Vivian Yung - Women's Champion
Kenji Tagawa - Under 13 Champion
Takashi Itakura and Taek Yang - 3rd in the Dan Individuals
And to everyone who competed on the day.
A great effort from everyone!
Here are some photos.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Japan is a fascinating country, mixture of ancient and the modern, with what seems to be a never ending stream of people travelling from one location to another.
Aside from the cultural highlights, I was able to play Kendo whilst in Osaka at the Yoseikai Kendo Club. Yoseikai Kendo Club is located in Namba, which is about a 5 minute subway trip from Osaka CBD.
The club has approximately 70 members and training regularly consists of appx 40 people. Their head instructor is Furiya shihan, 8th dan hanshi.
One of the things that really struck me was been told that none of the 8 Motodachis’ where under 4th dan when I trained there!
So what was it like? In many ways it was similar to Monday night’s training at Five Dock. Students arrive and are expected to do their own warm up and be ready to commence keiko at 7.30 pm. The program is essentially the same for a given practice night, hence there was little said from the commencement to the end of training – good for regulars, something that thankfully I was advised of prior to training commencing, otherwise I shudder to think how confused I could have been!
The program was as follows -
1: Kirikaeshi – 5 sets
2: Kihon Men – 5 sets
3: Kihon Kote, Men – 5 sets
6: Kirikaeshi – 1 set to finish training
All of this was completed in 90 minutes, at a very high intensity level. I was extremely lucky to practice with 3 of the sensei and was truly amazed at how they played Kendo.
Even in Kakarigecko, if they were not happy with the students’ technique or posture they would immediately counter their strike. I think this probably gets to the heart of Japanese training, that is excellent technique!
Besides above, there were a couple of other things that really stood out –
1: Seme – the pressure applied was relentless.
2: Opponents probe, probe and then – bam! No unnecessary expending of energy until they are ready to execute their attack.
3: Every cut is fully committed from the time they commence their attack until their Kiai finishes (which does seem to be infinite!)
As a footnote, I also played Kendo in Cairns on my way back to Sydney. It’s a small club, but a dedicated group of Kendoka’s. Katsumi sensei asked me to extend an invitation for any SKC members to come to Cairns and join their training.
All of the Sensei I met, freely offered advice at the end of training to help improve my kendo. Considering they didn’t know me at all, I thought it was extremely generous of them and showed what the spirit of Kendo is all about!
If anyone’s interested in practicing in either Osaka or Cairns please let me know and I’ll provide you with the appropriate contact details.
Sorry you haven't seen me in ages but it's been a combination of the dodgy shoulder (yawn, yes it's still giving me grief) and some interstate traveling. Meanwhile, my gut is expanding and i get a rush of envy every time a club email arrives talking about the coming competitions!
I'm hoping to get back to training soon - maybe even next week - and really looking forward to seeing everyone again. I hope your training is going well and that you are taking care of injuries promptly!
Good luck in the kumdo comp,
Monday, April 30, 2007
Wash your Gi and iron your Hakama!
A journalist and photographer from the Sydney Morning Herald will be coming to profile and write a story about kendo and our club over the next couple of weeks.
P.S. Get a hair cut if need be as well...
Monday, April 23, 2007
I would like to announce our official Dan team for the 10th Korean Kumdo Championships.
In no particular order:
1. Taek Yang
2. Toshio Nishimoto
3. Andrew Van Hammond
4. Jayson Chaplin
5. Takashi Itakura
We have a great mix of experience, strength and speed. There should be some great matches, with the Korean players always bringing a lot of spirit and exuberance to the tournament.
Our Kyu team will consist of (in no particular order):
1. Twins Yiu
2. Martin Szeto
3. Andrew Hudson
4. David Banbury
5. Mark Szewczyk
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Well, here it is,
The new layout for the Sydney Kendo Club Blog!
Over the next few weeks I'll be making a few minor changes.
If you have any suggestions, I'd like to hear from you.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Wow...I've been really lazy updating this blog. However, rest assured it will be up running to full speed again.
I'd like to welcome a fellow blogger Dave, who you will no doubt hear from in the near future. Dave is going to be in charge of the look and feel of the blog, so expect a face lift within the coming months.
Other news is that the SKC Committe has decided this blog will be the new 'Newsletter' vehicle. So in addition to reading the website, please visit this blog more often to get additional club news, Kendo thoughts and other bits and pieces happening inside the club. Essentially this blog is going to become a formal form of communication, source of information and news for SKC members. So please visit here regularly.
Hope to see you all at training soon.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
I turned up to training last wednesday unaware that it was to be a training session for the state teams; dan, women's and kyu combined. It was a very balmy night and I knew I wasn't up for the rigours of such intense training but I was definitely keen to do some training even if it was just the warm up. Toshio lead us through the motions and I was definitely feeling 'warm' by the end of it as the humidity was pretty high. The next part was to be about 30min. of jigeiko before seperating into the team training. I faced up for my first match but my shoulder wasn't quite ready yet and instantly started to give me grief so reluctantly I pulled out.
I spent about the next hour watching everyone playing and starting their team training. Of course, part of me was really frustrated at not being out there with my friends and angry that this one thing could be holding me back so much but sitting there watching did ultimately bring me some pleasure and that was in seeing how much many of my friends had improved in their kendo skills. It was great to see their hard work paying off.
There was one other thing that seemed apparent - and I don't say this as a criticism, just an observation of which I am also included - that it seemed that people were trying hard to win points with skill and timing but not so much with spirit. This is perhaps something that has been in my mind of late as I have been reading about jodan style and the need for a really strong spirit 'ki' but it also occured to me that it is not something that we really spend much time learning or working on. We do talk about it but I wonder if there are particular training practices that we can do to improve and focus this force?
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I have finally passed my Shodan grading. What a great feeling.
It wasn't all smooth sailing though. There are two components to a kendo shodan grading. Jigeiko (free sparing) and kata. Going into jigeiko I thought this would be the easiest part of my grading. However, standing there in front of the judges on the day...I was particularly nervous and subsequently my muscles were extremely tight limiting my movement and making me feel heavy overall. My 1st grading partner came out firing leaving me flat footed. It was a real task to re compose myself, and get back to playing my natural aggressive game. But it was too late...i was stuck on the back foot, unable to get a clean cut to boost my morale...it showed with lack Kiai. The second round of Jigeiko was a little better, but more of the same.
I felt disappointed with my effort.
Then onto kata. This was my biggest worry, since I’m not a great kata lover and don't manage to get a lot of Kata practice in each week like some who are more enthusiastic about it. However, going into the Kata I found a spot of calm intensity, and managed to pull out a very reasonable display of kata skills. My weakest area had just become my strongest over night so it seemed.
On the day, I learnt Kendo, like many other sports and combative activities has a strong mental component which influences overall performance. I heard chess is a good way to pump up the grey matter....
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Some of you will have noticed that I ahve been trying to play jigeiko in Jodan No Kamae...
Firstly, I want to say that I hope no one is offended by me taking this stance as a kyu grader, it actually has a practical reason behind it. With my injured shoulder it is virtually impossible for me to currently play jigeiko in chudan no kamae. While I can hold the stance, the moment I get a knock that pushes my right shoulder to the side or back it sends a crippling pain down my arm that literally makes it drop to my side. Since I still want to play some jigeiko I've started working on the Hidari Jodan no kamae as I can keep my right shoulder protected somewhat.
I also want to say that I have actually wanted to put some effort into learning this kamae for quite a long time as I am also left handed. It actually feels very natural for me. This doesn't make it easy but maybe a tiny bit 'easier' for me. During my convalescent period when I couldn't play any kendo for 4 months I could at least swing a shinai with my left arm so I feel like I have been preparing for a serious effort at playing in jodan.
I most definitely am not giving up on chudan and will do all the routine training in chudan happily but when it comes to jigeiko I want to turn my current disability into an opportunity to work hard on the jodan no kamae and hopefully reach a level of skill and control to make me a competative opponent that you will enjoy playing with.
I know I'm going to be crap at it for a while so I apologize in advance for some of the sloppy kendo I will be dishing out over the next few months when playing jigeiko and I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone can give me.
Any idea of some good training techniques I can try at home?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
We have our 1st grading opportunity of the year in a couple of weeks.
I remember my 1st grading experience. I had played 5-6 year of kendo ungraded and was finally going for my 6th kyu. I thought it would be easy. I skipped one grade to get to 5th kyu...but to my horror other people (with less experience) were skipped up to 4th kyu! I couldn't believe it. Then I realised that I still had a lot ot learn and that gradings are fantastic opportunity to show your peers what you have learnt...just like anyother test really. And instead of failing to reach a grade, its an opportunity to discover what you have not yet learnt...which in the end is going to make you a better kendo player.
Good luck everyone who is grading in Picton.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Yes, I am back at last! I had my first training session last wednesday night and I it was pretty hard to wipe the smile off my face all night. Honestly, to miss 4 months of kendo is an experience I don't wish on any of you. It's amazing how important the role kendo has played in not only my physical health but also my mental health and general wellbeing. It is such a wonderful stress release to swing that bamboo stick and the social aspect too has a very calming role. I truly missed everyone as much as I missed playing kendo.
My shoulder is still pretty buggered - basically the 'impingement' is gone but the muscles have tightened up so much that I had to get a hand tying my hakama at the back and struggled to tie up my men due to the restricted movement. Nevertheless, I was finally back on the boards swinging that shinai and happy as Larry! I managed to last the entire session but had to drop out of the jigeiko part.
It's going to take a year to get back to full mobility according to the Physio and it means I'll have to give the Picton grading a miss, but you know what? Just the fact that I can play any kendo is wonderful to me now. It's the classic cliche but 'ya don't know what ya got til it's gone!'
I hope to see all the old familiar faces over the coming weeks and you'll recognise me by the big grin (and the expanded belly - another by-product of no kendo!).
I look forward to seeing you all real soon,