Nambu Kenshi Kai History
We started out as an idea for introducing Kiwi youth to Japanese culture. In late 2008 we were discussing ways to introduce Kiwi youth to Japanese culture and that Budo was an ideal vehicle for this. The problem was that gear was hard to come by, or quite expensive to buy, and still is. We were then lucky enough to receive a donation of a good amount of second hand Kendo-gu (gear) so that anyone can get involved without a large expense.
We started this project in 2009 and at first kendo was run as an extra training of the Mugairyu iaido dojo, and with the generous support of Burnside Primary School we were then able to run free training for all who were interested and in 2015 we changed our name to the Shmaitoshi kendo Dojo. In 2017, in recognition of the fact that we have developed from the original project to become an independent kendo dōjō we chose a new name, the Nambu Kenshi Kai.
The name Nanbu Kenshikai 「南武剣士会」combines the kanji: 南＝South、武＝Martial / Budō、剣士＝Swordsman、会＝Group / Club
We continue to operate in the spirit of helping people experience and understand Japanese culture and continue to keep training free for Christchurch youth, and continue connecting people through mutual understanding of both cultures. All people who share this ideal are welcome to be involved.
Our Komon sensei, is Miyamoto-Sensei. Miyamoto-Sensei is 7-dan Kyoshi and lives in Japan but teaches us from afar and keeps an eye on our training. Miyamoto Sensei instructs us on all aspects of Kendo, but especially focuses on Reiho and Gijutsu that is appropriate to the aims of the Nambu-Kenshi-Kai, i.e. about correct understanding of Japanese and Budo culture. Dan has trained under Miyamoto sensei for many years in Japan.
Dan Fujikawa 藤川 暖
Nambu Kenshikai Komon Sensei
Miyamoto-sensei ７段 教士
Kendō 7-dan Kyoshi
Miyamoto Sensei is from Wakayama in Japan. Dan has trained with Miyamoto sensei for many years when he lived in Japan and was a regular member of his dojo
Miyamoto-sensei gives us guidance from Japan and we always look forward to training with him in person when we can. We feel very lucky to have his guidance and we always train as if Sensei is in the dojo with us. Miyamoto Sensei is a member of the Zen Nippon Kendō Renmei and is fully active in his dōjō and region in Kendō.
Kendō training is held every Sunday at Burnside Primary School. It is free to join and all gear can be borrowed, also for free for school students. This is because we are a volunteer activity supported by various people and organisations. All our gear has been donated by Kendo dojos in Kurashiki, Japan which enables us to run the dōjō at minimal cost. Time is also donated by our Sensei and and Dōjō nushi, and we all work together to run an enjoyable but serious Kendō dōjō.
Kendō is a great way to learn about Japanese culture and etiquette, keep fit, learn discipline and more. Japanese Budō (martial arts) often have a reputation as being rough and tough, but Kendō is relatively low impact and there is little difference in potential for boys or girls. The techiques are all centered on moving the body and striking with the shinai to specific protected targets so there are no throws and punches or significantly traumatic impact.
Our Kendō dōjō is open to all, but it is especially focused on people who want to learn Budō and Japanese culture. We are not members of the NZKF and do not support gradings or enter competitions. If a member of our dojo reaches a level where they wish to grade, then we can arrange this in Japan, but it is not a requirement of training. Our Kendo is aimed at introducing Japanese culture and etiquette rather than competition Kendo. When you train with us, you will be expected to be humble, take training seriously and learn as much as you can.
Training is from 7:00 pm every Monday (older members) and 10:45 ~ 11:45 am every Sunday (everyone), right throughout the year.
The Youth Kendō initiative of the Nambu Kenshikai focuses on Kendō as Budō, not as sports Kendō. This means that the purpose of training is to follow the ideals of Budō, trying to make yourself a better person, rather than winning the fight at all costs and beating your opponents into the ground. Instead, we respect our training partners and do our best at all times to train correctly, respect each other, observe Kendo etiquette and all the other things that come with Budō.
As the focus is on becoming a better person and allowing our Iaidō members to experience a different aspect of the sword, we find that competition kendō tends to get in the way of this objective. Many sensei in Japan say that kendō is a type of kihon for budo, and that experience in kendo gives you a good foundation for doing other budō. This is because kendō incoprorates fundamental movements and coordination that are used in other budo, and kendō arises from the basic training that all Samurai would have expeienced to become proficient in the use of the sword. This gives a good grounding in the practical aspects that are easy to lose sight of when you only focus on seishin shugyo (dō, Zen, etc) but as the practical sword work is the foundation on which kendō and iaidō are based on, it shouldn't be ignored.
Race relations, volunteering and diversity
The Youth kendō project has been recognised by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission as making a positive contribution to race relations in New Zealand. By providing New Zealand youth with a chance to experience Japanese culture, the project encourages young people to understand different ways of thinking, cultural norms and perspectives. The HRC diversity Action project is one which we have been proud to be a part of since its inception in 2012.
Kendō is an ideal vehicle for Kiwis to experience Japanese culture. Kendo is very traditional and the manners, etiquette and way of doing things are all uniquely Japanese. If you can be comfortable in a Kendō dōjō, you will find it much easier to observe Japanese manners and protocols if you ever visit Japan. People interested in any aspect of Japanese culture will get something out of Kendō, and people who don't know much about Japan will find it is natural way to learn.
Being an independent dōjō with direct links to Japan we are able to gear our kendo training towards more culturally supportive objectives and outcomes. Budō is an ideal vehicle for non-Japanese to learn and experience the nuances of the Japanese identity and culture, but to do that we feel the sports focus that is unfortunately common in many kendo dojos needs to be excluded as much as possible.
We have also worked with local schools, Councils and the Asia New Zealand Foundation in delivering budō sessions for students and helping many people have a chance to see and experience this aspect of traditional Japan.