Big thanks !!! 感謝!

Two weeks today I released kenshi 24/7s latest publication, a complete English translation of Ogawa Kinnosuke sensei’s Teikoku Kendo Kyohon (The Kendo Textbook of Imperial Japan). In these last couple of weeks the book (both print and digital) has been picked up by dedicated kenshi from all across the globe, including:

America (about 20 states), Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.
(these are only the countries for which I have statistics available)

I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who picked up the book – I’m positive that you’ll not only find it an important addition to your kendo library, but that it’s a book you will come back to again-and-again over the years.

If you could help get the word out to your kendo friends that would be amazing! For example, by taking the book to the dojo and passing it around, and/or by sharing a link to the books dedicated page. Cheers!

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Just in case you haven’t seen the book yet…

Excerpts from a testimonial:

George has done it again! The Teikoku Kendo Kyohon is his latest contribution to the English-speaking kendo community, and it really is an excellent work. Similar to kenshi247’s previous release, The Kendo Reader, this is also a translation of a pre-World War II kendo manual…

I think that is where the true value of the Teikoku Kendo Kyohon lies; in the insight it provides into where modern kendo came from…

Ogawa-sensei was an incredibly important figure in shaping kendo today, and this book is a major part of that influence. If you are interested in the history of kendo and how it has evolved, then this book is an absolute must-read….

Read the rest of the review here.

Sneak peak:

For full information including pictures and information about formats etc, please check out the books dedicated page on our publication website, kendo-book.com.

Eikenkai June 2015 英剣会

Eikenkai is a kenshi 24/7 led kihon-heavy keiko session that takes place usually every couple of months in central Osaka.

Yesterday’s session (Sunday the 28th of June) was held at our usual venue Sumiyoshi Budokan, which is right next to the beautiful Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine. It seemed like a nice cool day until I got to the dojo itself and realised it was boiling! A few regular members were not in attendance due to the All Japan University Championships taking place over the weekend in Osaka, but that didn’t stop around 20 people getting together for Eikenkai’s trademark tough kihon session.

After stretching and doing suburi we did around about 40 minutes of kihongeiko, including a few rounds of kirikaeshi and uchikomi. After a short break for some water, we did 25 minutes of waza practise (focusing mainly on oji-waza) before going straight into an hour of jigeiko. Pretty much everyone was dead by the end of it!

To finish up a small handful of us popped out to the local okonomiyaki restaurant for food, a few beers, and lots of kendo chat.

Our next regular keiko will be held on the 19th of September at Sumiyoshi Budokan. We will, however, be holding a special session at a different venue far to the south of Osaka on August the 30th. If you are interested in coming along to either session please (after reading and understanding the “Points to note before joining a session”) get in touch. The regular session will be advertised on facebook as normal, but the special one won’t.

The awesome black and white pics below are courtesy of Aussie ex-pat Andy over in Nagoya. Check his work out online at Kendo Monochrome.

Teikoku Kendo Kyohon – The Kendo Textbook of Imperial Japan 帝国剣道教本

The latest kenshi 24/7 publication has been released: a translation of Ogawa Kinnosuke sensei’s Teikoku Kendo Kyohon (The Kendo Textbook of Imperial Japan). I am a bit bias, but I have to say that the book is amazing, not just in content, but in format as well… I’m super excited to release it!

When this book was published in the 1930s, Ogawa sensei was the head instructor of the Budo Senmon Gakko (Busen), the school run by the Dai-Nippon Butokukai, the largest and most influential martial arts organisation in Japan. Busen was a teacher-training college and the premier place to study kendo prior to the war. It’s graduates taught kendo all over Japan (before and after the war) and it’s not too much to say that what was taught there – about the philosophy of kendo as well as it’s execution – forms the basis of the kendo that we do today in the 21st century.

Here’s a sneak peak:


For full information including pictures and information about formats etc, please check out the books dedicated page on our publication website, kendo-book.com.

BIG THANKS to all of kenshi 24/7 readers for your continued support over the years, cheers!!

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Don’t forget that we have a suite of great publications available at kendo-book.com.

16th World Kendo Championships 第16回世界剣道選手権大会

I cannot, just by telling you about it, convince you of the pleasure of what happens at such as festival as well as you would learn for yourself, sitting in the middle of the crowd watching the arete of men and physical beauty, amazing conditioning, and great skill and irresistible force and daring and pride and unbeatable determination and indescribable passion for victory. I know that you would not stop praising and cheering and applauding.

Lucian (ca, 120-190 CE), Anacharsis (Athletics)

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the World Kendo Championships, held in the Nippon Budokan, Tokyo. I attended as neither competitor nor spectator, but as a volunteer staff member for the All Japan Kendo Association (ZNKR), which was a new – and eye opening – experience for me. In particular I got to see how things operated (specifically the media side of things), plus was privy to not a few highly interesting (and secret!) conversations. I also met a Japanese imperial princess, but that’s a story to be had over a beer or two. Due to my work situation I was only onsite on days 2 and 3.

I won’t bother detailing the flow of the competition nor the results – you can find all those on the official page or from your friends. My main goal with this post is simply to share some pictures and chat briefly about my experience.


Day 2: ladies individuals and teams

I rolled up to the Budokan just before 7am and was in for a long day: I didn’t leave until around 9pm. Other volunteers where there longer than that. This day was mostly spent acclimatising to the role so I didn’t walk around or take as many pictures as I did on the last day (which I now regret).

The highlight (!?!?) of the day was a large-ish earthquake that happened in the middle of the ladies award ceremony. The Budokan shook back-and-forth quite a lot and the ceremony was suspended for a few moments to ensure everything was ok. In Kansai we don’t experience quite as many earthquakes as they do in the Kanto region, so I was far from impressed!

Here are some pictures from the day…

Day 3: mens teams

This day saw the largest turnout spectator-wise, especially from the afternoon. I spent some pre-opening ceremony time watching the warmup of a few teams. The warmup area was in an ad-hoc tent that was set up in what I believe was part of the parking area! When the competition started proper I did some wandering around taking random shots, both of the shiai itself and of other stuff that was going on in and around the Budokan.

One thing that (happily!) surprised me over the day was the realisation just how technically proficient some of the teams have become over the last decade I’ve been in Japan, especially some of the European ones. There was some really athleticism on display as well as some precisely executed waza and nice seme-ai. Watching some of the tall and muscular young guys I started to feel inadequate!!

Check out some pictures…

Warmup:

Team snaps (random):

Competition:


Behind the scenes

I spent a lot of my volunteering time posting on twitter, taking pictures for flickr, uploading stuff to the kenshi 24/7 facebook page, and monitoring Ustream comments. One thing I’d like everyone to know is that this is a massive operation, especially the Ustream -> YouTube process. Although there is a lot of self-automation, there is constant manual monitoring and intervention if required. It’s really quite impressive how something that was live-streamed a few moments ago get’s shifted to YouTube so quickly. There were also ippon collections and slo-motion vids that got uploaded super speedily.

Although some people had problem watching Ustream, most didn’t. The former we couldn’t really help as any strangling/blocking of the streams were happening at their end. Why some ISPs blocked some channels but left others open I have no idea. At any rate, those that couldn’t see things live could wait a few moments and see the recorded version on YouTube anyway… if they had the patience!

At the same time as all this was happening the scores were being recorded digitally and fed into the official tournament system. Part of this system also updated the official site the instant a point was made (input). It was all rather cool.

Although it was a very exhausting couple of days for me (and I didn’t even work that hard!!), I consider myself lucky that I was allowed so much access to what was going on. I think we need to thank the ZNKR and it’s team of volunteers for going to so much effort.

Some pics from behind the scenes…


Comments

To tell you the truth, more than watching the competition itself, I got a lot more joy just walking around, taking pictures, meeting some very old friends, and chatting to new people. Quite a few people came up to me and said “Are you George?” and thanked me for kenshi 24/7… which was unexpected but very nice!

Of course, I did watch a lot of the matches, and I not only enjoyed them immensely but came away with a new found respect for the increase in technical ability shown by everyone. This – assuming it is coupled with a deep understanding of the culture of kendo – can only lead to bright things for the future of kendo. Exciting times!!!!

Lastly

Special thanks go out to Paul Carruthers from Newcastle who kindly donated a couple of spare tickets for day 3. I managed to get both tickets into needy hands pretty quickly (one person from Hong Kong, another from Osaka) – cheers Paul, I owe you a beer!

Ogawa Kinnosuke 小川金之助

When I think about the sensei that had the most influence over the development of modern kendo the three that immediately come to mind tower above all the rest: Naito Takaharu, Takano Sasaburo, and Ogawa Kinnosuke. As I’ve already done posts on the the first two, it’s time now for one on the last of the triumvirate.


Ogawa Kinnosuke was born in 1884 in Aiichi prefecture. He began kendo whilst in school, at around 13/15 years of age, under kendo hanshi Kato Kiichi and later under Kohori Yasutada. In his late teens and very early 20s he taught kendo at a middle school and joined the army (field gunnery position) before being employed by Nagoya police department. It was at thus juncture where his kendo life was to change.

The Dai-Nippon Butokukai had been founded a few years earlier in 1895, with the goal of promoting spiritual discipline through martial arts education. Upon completion of its HQ dojo – the Butokuden – a handful of prominent kenshi were selected to instruct there, one of whom was to have the greatest influence of the development of modern kendo: Naito Takaharu. In 1905 a school was formally opened to teach kendo instructors and Naito was selected as the senior teacher. At this time the school was known as the Bujutsu Kyoin Yoseijo, but eventually (after a few re-organisations and renames) it would be known to everyone as Busen (Budo Senmon Gakko). It was to this school that Ogawa was dispatched by the Nagoya police department in 1907.

Ogawa would spend 3 years studying kendo directly under Naito. Including Ogawa, students of the Yoseijo around this time who were to go on to have a massive impact on the future of kendo: Saimura Goro, Mochida Moriji, Nakano Sosuke, Oasa Yuji, Shimatani Yasohachi, Oshima Jikida, Ueda Heitaro, and Miyazaki Mosaburo amongst others. The first 4 people mentioned were, along with Ogawa, awarded 10th dan after the war.

After spending 3 years training under Naito (and surrounded by high quality kenshi) Ogawa was ordered back to Nagoya to take up his kendo teaching position within the police.

For the next 4 years Ogawa taught kendo within the Nagoya police department when – in 1914 – Naito got in touch and requested that he return to Kyoto to become a helper at the newly overhauled Busen. Obviously a favourite of Naito, his promotion was swift: he became an assistant Busen teacher in 1917 then, after being awarded his kyoshi in 1919, a fully fledged one.

1919 also saw the arrival of a new Busen principle, the influential politician Nishikubo Hiromichi. Ogawa was taken under Nishikubo’s wing and when Ogawa came to build his own dojo he used the kanji from Nishikubo’s first name (Hiromichi 弘道) for the name of the dojo he built in 1924: Kodokan 弘道館. Kodokan was originally built in the grounds of Chomyoji temple, not far from the Butokuden. This dojo would become one of the main dojo that Busen students would attend in the evenings.

From around 1926 the ageing Naito’s health began to worsen, and Ogawa was selected to take over the senior teaching role. During this time he was awarded hanshi by the Butokukai. When Naito passed away suddenly in 1929, Ogawa was appointed as Busen’s principle instructor. He would keep this job until 1944 when he himself petitioned for retirement (perhaps due to the over-arching control Japan’s military government was exercising on the Butokukai?).

The 1920s and 30s can rightly be seen as the period where kendo – it’s philosophy, ideology, as well as physical execution – began to finally take a consistent form. The driving force behind this was mainly the Butokukai and the teachers (and graduates) of Busen. It’s not too much to say that Ogawa was in key a position of authority and influence during the majority of this time.

Reading scores and scores of kendo books from the post-war period, Ogawa’s name comes up time and time again: it’s obvious that he was high respected and that many many Busen students regarded him as their teacher. Unfortunately, Ogawa himself was far from prolific when it came to written material: he only authored a single book in 1932 (revised in 1937) called Teikokuku Kendo Kyohon: The Kendo Textbook of Imperial Japan.

After the war ended, like all the senior pre-war guard, we don’t really hear or see much of Ogawa until he is awarded 10th dan from the newly formed Zen Nippon Kendo Renemei in 1957. (All the 10th dan recipients were Naito students and Bujutsu Kyoin Yoseijo graduates.)

Ogawa sensei passed away in 1962 at the age of 78.


Although the original/second generation of Kodokan that Ogawa ran and where Busen students practised no longer exists (between 1924-1934 Kodokan was located in Chomyoji, from 1934-1945 inside Ogawa’s private residence), the group continued after the war (at first run by Ogawa’s son, who was 9th dan) in various locations and still exists today.

If you want to visit something associated with Ogawa then you should attend keiko at the Butokuden and – before or after – take a short walk to Chomyoji and pay respects at his grave.



Saimura Goro (left) vs Ogawa Kinnosuke (right) at the 1940 Tenran-jiai: