Another year

A bit late I suppose, but happy new year! Kendo-wise things have started in earnest over here, and every day I find myself doing something kendo related, whether it be keiko itself, event related stuff, dealing with/organising visitors, renshujiai and/or godogeiko requests… and so on and so on. I promised myself a few years ago that it was time to calm down with kendo stuff, but the opposite somehow seems to be happening. Hmmm. In amongst all this I have, of course, kenshi 24/7 to continue plugging away at.

Last year I managed 20 posts, which was a decent amount I guess. Considering I have written about pretty much every facet of kendo over the past 15 years, I am quite happy. However, I am a bit unsure what themes I will tackle this year – if you have any requests, please let me know.

The only thing of note I have to mention here today is that we have confirmed the dates for this year’s Edinburgh Kendo Club Summer Seminar. There are still many things that need to be ironed out, but Yano sensei and I will be back in Edinburgh this July. The dates are:

July 19th (Fri) - pre-seminar keiko
July 20th (Sat) - seminar day one
July 21st (Sun) - seminar day two
July 22nd (Mon) - post-seminar keiko

The venue is the very large and very modern Meadowbank Sports Centre. If you are interested go ahead and book your flights/accomodation! Full details including registration, cost, and what have you will be announced shortly. Yano sensei and I will stay on a little longer in Edinburgh after that and keiko with the local club, so if you happen to extend your stay please join us.

Anyway, that’s it really. I will end the post with some pics and info about the two kendo events I attended during the first week of the year.

Start-of-year keiko (3rd Jan)

A number of years ago, pre-pandemic, I had the idea of hosting a start-of-the-year keiko for my friends and students (current and past). The event quickly escalated and participant numbers increased exponentially every year. The pandemic suffocated it for a couple of years, and when I restarted it last year it was a quiet affair. This year, however, despite not inviting that many people, about 50 turned up at my workplace for keiko anyway. We did just over two hours of kendo before a group of us headed out to enjoy a few light refreshments.

I am planning to host this event on the same date next year, so if you happen to be in Osaka around about new years, please get in touch.

Osaka kendo association’s kangeiko (6th Jan)

Pretty much every year I have been in Osaka I have joined the local kendo associations kangeiko training session. It usually lasts two or three days, with about 1,200-1,500 participants each day, including sometimes upwards of 50 hachidan (during the height of the pandemic it was cancelled of course).

Shudokan, the dojo built on the grounds of Osaka Castle, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year (one year younger than the now-closed Shingikan, which it was sort of designed after), so the kangeiko was moved from the usual large venue to Shudokan itself. Initially I thought of this as a bad move as you’d never be able to fit 1,000+ people in the building. However, it ended up being better (for me): instead of doing lots of keiko (=motodachi) with kids, a bunch of experienced adults in the corner made groups and practiced together (kihon and jigeiko).

During the last 30 mins the hachidan put their bogu on and everyone lined up to face them. I was first in line with a recently minted hachidan, one with whom I used to keiko a lot with years ago. He’s just a bit older than me and he won the individual men’s title of the only WKC I took part in (his shiai success in Japan is too much to write about). Our jigeiko together was not only long, it was fun. Later, after queuing for 25 mins, I faced another hachidan, an ex-university kendo teacher. Not only does he have excellent kendo, he is great instructor and a gentleman to boot. I didn’t mind the long way for a chance to do kendo with him.

A couple of pics and a small video clip is available to view on instagram.

That’s it for today. Cheers, and good luck in 2024!

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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5 replies on “Another year”

Happy New Year, George!

Long time reader and kendo book buyer, but first time commenter here!

I’ve studied a bit of Ono Ha Itto Ryu at the study group level, and have found the basic kata to be more useful for understanding kendo concepts than the actual kendo kata.

Not sure if you’ve signed a blood oath not to discuss your personal koryu experience on the site, but I’ve found Hitotsugachi to be very relevant to understanding how to win aimen (at least if you take the “hitting straighter over/through your opponent” approach rather than just hitting faster to get there first. Mukaezuki explains why it’s advantageous to seme over an opponent and ride over their shinai.

Tsubawari explains why you’re safe if unmoved in your kamae. It also explains how to use the tsuba, and in several years of learning kendo in multiple countries, the only mention I’ve heard from kendo sensei about how to use the tsuba (aside from “tsubazeriai” and “you hit the tsuba instead of the kote because you’re not hitting straight”) has been “you can knock down the opponent’s shinai during kote-men by aiming for the tsuba instead of the kote.” But I’ve noticed that the tsuba actually plays a role in protecting you and “catching” the opponent’s shinai to keep an opening during oji waza like men-kaeshi-dou and men-suriage-men (depending on how the waza is executed). Maybe it’s silly, but a post on the use of the tsuba in kendo might be interesting, even if it’s less relevant than in bokuto-centric kenjutsu. In any case, a more detailed post about the overlap between koryu techniques and kendo might be interesting, especially since the majority of kenshi have never done any koryu, and the kendo kata feel very separate from shinai kendo for most.

Anyway, just some thoughts! Thanks for continuing to share your experiences!

@Andrew – I’ve already done a semi in-depth article about Nito in the past (in 2017). Jodan, hmmm. I’ll think on that. I have a lot to say on the topic.

Thanks for reading and commenting! No blood oaths – it will all come out eventually. I deliberately chose not to call this site “kendo 24/7” for a reason.

Kendo kata were designed as a tool to teach student beginners, nothing else. I have a book 90% written about all this that maybe I will try to finish this year (it was mostly finished back in 2017, but then my daughter arrived and so on ….).

Tsuba – that’s an interesting topic, and one that I haven’t addressed. I am actually extremely particular about the tsuba I use. Let me ponder that for a bit.

“Hello McCall Sensei,

I’m a big fan of your kendo articles on Kenshi 24/7! Your insights have been incredibly valuable to my kendo journey. I was particularly intrigued by your journey to becoming the only non-Japanese person to teach kendo in Japan. As someone aspiring to take my kendo to the highest level possible, I’m curious about your experiences and how you achieved this position. Despite being young in age and kendo experience, it’s a dream of mine. If you have a moment, I’d love to hear more about your early days teaching high schoolers and the path you took.

Best regards,


Thanks for your kind words. I am glad you are enjoying kenshi 24/7 and find the site useful!

btw I am not “the only non-Japanese person to teach kendo in Japan” – there are certainly other non-Japanese people out there with high grades teaching kendo at different places. I am, afaik, however, the only non-Japanese person teaching as a fully-qualified teacher in the public school system. I have no idea about the private school system (I haven’t yet heard of anybody teaching there).

Good luck!

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