From the Chairman of the British Kendo Renmei
Continued from part one.
There is no point in beating about the bush over the dangers of COVID-19 to our kendo and we are not fools. We are quite sensitive to the government’s concern with the problem and considered response to find a solution. These solutions may not seem to reflect our particular aims but nonetheless they must be taken into account and followed.
The renmei has not been slow to respond and have over the past weeks of lockdown tried to find proposals of how to proceed from a number of sources – Japanese as well as American and our own here.
Chief amongst these are a number of senior yūdansha in Japan in correspondence with seniors here in the UK. I will quote from a high-ranking hachidan hanshi (name and address supplied). In the context of the pandemic, he said that having a year break and read kendo books would be a good idea. In his mind having a one year break would not affect people so much, as we had been practising a long time before. Instead we can do kendo from a different aspect. For some people a long break like one year is good for them as too much physical training alone is sometimes not the ideal . . . So let’s wait, was his answer.
A second senior we consulted also consulted the same senior hanshi and agreed with the one year off advice as what we are doing is NOT real kendo. He said that we have all trained long enough for our bodies to remember kendo and we should just keep fit and well through exercise.
There is already as we understand discussion in Japan about modifications to the bogu, mainly to the men by way of integral masks, and to wearing foot protectors – tabi – as obligatory. Many wear them now, including myself, as some surfaces are dangerous as we know.
The form of practice here
- We shall use a bokutō only for the time being, not shinai.
- All exercise will return to a much deeper study of bokutō waza. , and depending on the resumption of ‘normality’ in the autumn or new year, a whole three months of that form of exercise.
- This will, in the spirit it is accepted, surely bring better understanding and skill. It will also greatly help focus on the origins, folklore and warrior traditions to explain aspects now being lost in Japan and so important to creating an esprit de corps amongst the warrior ancestry in Japan in the last 150 years and provided encouragement to aspects we all regard as valuable.
- For those interested the renmei will look at basic instructions in certain forms of iai, and we emphasise this will not be in any seitei-gata but much closer to the Ōmori-ryu iai of the late 17th century.
From the reigi point of view,
Proposals regarding renewal of training
- All leaders must request advice from the Renmei before starting organising training with regard to conforming to government guidelines. There are important insurance considerations to this.
- A senior Renmei officer should be present and in charge.
- Live blades are not to be used until we are able to resume private practice.
- Social distancing must be observed, as per government guidelines.
- Liaison with local authorities to explain our intentions and aims, including discipline, should be made where appropriate.
Questions, please, write to the chairman:
Mr Roald Knutsen
We will very much appreciate your suggestions from all ranks, but the main thing is to give the true sword arts that have taken root over here to flourish and be understood. I emphasise that these are not sport, but deeply cultural. Like most things it is the applications in the west that cause the problem.