History of Kendo in Oxford
The first mention of kendo in Oxford appears through Fujisake, a student in Oxford in 1905, although he may have practised only judo:
1905 16th November.The F J Norman demonstration in London.
Francis James Norman on his arrival in London demonstrates ‘jujutsu and kenjutsu at the Marlborough Hall Polytechnic, Regent Street. Instructors present: Kanaya, Tani Yukio, Miyake, Fujisake, Eida, Miss Roberts, F.J. Norman, Sergeant-Major Betts, and some pupils from the Japanese School of Ju-jitsu, 305 Oxford Street’.
(From:’A man of Many Parts’- by Paul Budden. Published in Kendo World 2014).
There are records also from 1926 with Koizumi Gunji and Tani Yukio from the Budokwai in London teaching Judo at Oxford University. Koizumi sensei & Tani sensei also practised kendo with Koizumi sensei having taken part in the Garden Party demonstration in May 1937 with R A Lidstone ( Lidstone Taikai) as part of a kendo demonstration for Prince Chichibu in his honour at the Hurlingham Sports Club, Fulham, London. This was with members of the Anglo Japanese Judo Club who organised the event. Those taking part also included Fukima, Kudzutani Arataro, Koizumi Gunji,Sakakibara, Omori, Okamoto Yoshitomo, Mishiku Kaoru, Nogi, Calmer, R.A. Lidstone, Fenlon, Rudwell, Cope, Hanibourn, Pepler and Philips. <From: An Introduction to Kendo’ – by R A Lidstone. Published in 1964> & <Three Ages of British Kendo’ for the Japan Society. Published in 2015 – Paul Budden>
History of the Oxford Kendo Club
The first club in Oxford started in 1983 at Oxford Brookes University in Wheatley through the founders Phil Belcher who had attended Kodokan (formally Atarashii Kendo Club – Amersham) and John Foreman with support from Terry Holt Sensei (Kyoshi, 7th Dan, Mumeishi). The club changed locations many times after 1986 although stayed within the Oxfordshire area. Oxford Kendo was also one of the six clubs forming the Thames Valley Kyokai in 1986. This group included other dojos included Reading, Basingstoke, Abingdon, Mumeishi and Kodokan. In 1997, the club formally became Oxford University Kendo Club with Dr. Kaz Oishi Sensei and four members including Mike Molloy, Sam Itagaki, Seiji Ito and Dave Lever helped by a grant from Nissan. Kaz was at Oxford University for his studies and a 5th Dan kendoka at the time. He was also the former Tokyo University Kendo Team Captain. Kaz led the Oxford University Kendo team to solid victories against the Cambridge University team up to 2002 during his time in Oxford. Oxford City Kendo was formed by Michio Wise a few years later for the non-student members in Oxford.
In 2012, Oxford Kendo was restructured through members Michio Wise, Louie Chen and Sam Wilkin from Oxford City Kendo with Oxford University Kendo incorporated as a subsidiary. In 2015, Oxford Brookes University Kendo was formed and added as another subsidiary under Oxford Kendo. Oxford Kendo oversees both the management of Oxford University Kendo Club and Oxford Brookes Kendo Club.
Our members live around the Oxfordshire area with members from the age of 5 up to senior ages. Oxford Kendo incorporates its subsidiaries with Oxford University Kendo & Oxford Brookes University Kendo clubs and is a British Kendo Association (BKA) registered club.
Past members from Oxford have progressed to the GB Kendo Team, participated in international competitions including the Five Nations, European Kendo Championships and the World Kendo Championship. Former members also include Cris Ballinas now the President of the South American Kendo Federation and Geraldine Mattson of the GB Women’s Team.
Kendo 剣道 – the Way of the Sword
Kendo is the path toward the formation of human character (that is gained) through practicing the true principles of the Japanese sword*.
Notes for *: “the true principles of sword” is a translation of “剣の理法 (Ken no rihou)”. It can be translated into “the nature of sword”. What it means here is both mental and physical forces and techniques regarded as causing and regulating phenomena in offence and defence by Japanese sword.
To learn Kendo correctly and seriously,
To cultivate a vigorous sprit via mental and physical disciplines,
Through the distinguishing feature of Kendo,
To hold courtesy in high esteem,
To put high value on trustfulness,
To commit oneself to sincerity,
To always strive for self-improvement,
In doing all the above,
To love one’s country and soceity
In an effort to widely contribute to peace and prosperities of humankind.
Kendo originated from Japanese sword fighting without the use of armour [Chutaro Ogawa (9th Dan Master); Ken To Zen 『剣と禅』].
Kendo started as a martial art (剣術: Ken-Jyutsu). Ken-kyutsu focused on the principle of ‘to kill or be killed’ with techniques to achieve it. Various ken-jyutsu schools have emerged since the 15th century from warrior Samurai. These schools were influenced by Zen historically from the Kamakura period in the 12th century. Zen played a very important role when this martial art turned into the art of swordsmanship in the early to mid 17th century. More information on the history of kendo in English can be found on www.kendo.or.jp.
When we practice kendo, we use the shinai (bamboo sword). It is important to always think of the shinai as a real sword or we lose the sprit of kendo. We also must regularly practice kata (型) to understand the essence of kendo. Kata can be described as a set of detailed pattern of movements originally used as teaching and training methods from combat techniques that have passed down through the generations. Kata practice is very important as it was the original practice method before the armour practice method was invented and embodies the essence of a real sword fighting without wearing armour. In Japanese, we use the expression “Real sword!” synonymously with the expression of “Seriously!”. Why not use this mind for your kendo practice!
– Yasuyuki Hiyama Sensei (7th Dan, Oxford Kendo Head Sensei)