Nanseikan was founded in 2002 to spread the practice of Kendo in Melbourne, Australia. Our dojo ethos is “修正一如” which translates as “Practice and Enlightenment are One” or more prosaically, the journey and the goal are one and the same. This means that although we set targets for ourselves, we know that it is the process of getting there which is the point of Kendo. We recognise that everyone has different goals and capabilities, and that the Way of the Sword is a personal journey of challenge and self-development that is life-long.
Nanseikan trains in the hall of St Pius X Primary School, 431 Waterdale Rd, Heidelberg West, Victoria.
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Nanseikan trains most Saturdays during school term. We train from 9.00am until 11.00am. During beginners' course periods, the first hour is devoted to basic exercises and beginners. The second hour is for advanced training.
General information about training
On arriving at the dojo, please take off your shoes before entering and bow as you cross the threshold.
The first activity is mopping the floor by hand in the traditional Japanese manner. This is excellent exercise for the lower body and ensures the floor is safe for bare feet. All members including the instructor take part in the various small jobs required to set up training.
Bowing and meditation are an integral part of Kendo. These rituals help to develop mindfulness, readiness and mental focus. They have no inherent religious significance. Some people of strong religious faith (particularly those from the Abrahamic religions) may have concerns based on incomplete information about kendo and Japanese culture. If this is the case, please contact the Instructor in person for more information.
Training is highly-structured and follows a very similar format week after week. However each term, different aspects of Kendo will be focused on.
The dojo environment is a calm one, aimed at developing concentration and mental equilibrium. We do not use loud music or aggressive teaching techniques. On the other hand, students will be encouraged to go further than they may find comfortable. As a result they soon find that they are capable of more than they had first suspected.
Japanese is still very much the main language of instruction. Kendo students learn to recognise commands in Japanese, as well as how to count and say please and thank you. For an idea about what kind of words we use, please see the glossary at the back of the beginners' handbook found here. Later on they will learn to participate in and even referee a Kendo match understanding and using only Japanese.
Visitors regularly come to train from other dojos at Nanseikan. Sometimes they are from Kendo clubs in Melbourne and sometimes from further afield, especially Japan. Nanseikan members are also encouraged to train at different clubs as often as they can. There is no exclusivity or secrecy in Kendo. Any club or Sensei that implies othewise should be treated with caution.
Like most kendo clubs, Nanseikan is not run as a full-time business.
The are no club membership fees, just training fees that are payable each term.
Fees are paid in advance on the first day of term and depend on the number of weeks in the term. There is a discount available for multiple family members and those with student or Government concessions. Please contact me via the email address below for current fees.
Members should become financial members of the Victorian Kendo Renmei as soon as possible after joining. This costs $45.00/year for juniors (under 16) and $70.00 for adults. The VKR membership year is from 1 July to 30 June. Those who start in semester 1 are eligible for a one-off half-year membership. VKR membership can be organised through the club.
Membership of the governing bodies for Kendo allows Nanseikan members to take part in gradings, seminars and competitions, as well as providing the club with Public Liability Insurance and personal injury insurance (hardly ever required in an activity that generates fewer serious injuries than Aussie Rules, soccer or netball). The Victorian Kendo Renmei is affiliated with the Australian Kendo Renmei and the International Kendo Federation, which means that grades awarded in Australia are recognised in Japan and all 42 affiliated countries.
Equipment (see also Equipment Buying Guide)
No special equipment is required on your first visit to Nanseikan.
The shinai (bamboo sword) can be borrowed from the club for the first few weeks. One can then be purchased from a number of reputable suppliers such as the Melbourne-based Michi Martial Arts for around $55.00
Training attire for beginners need only be a t-shirt and tracksuit pants with bare feet. A kendogi (training top) and hakama (divided skirt) can be bought online for between $100 - 150. The club may have second-hand sets available for sale or exchange.
Bogu (armour) is a more costly investment, starting at around $500.00, and need not be bought for some time. Thanks to generous friends in Japan, the club has a number of bogu which can borrowed free of charge. Bogu is worn progressively and the instructor decides when a student is ready to put on the next piece of the bogu. The first parts to be worn at training are always the do and tare (breastplate and protective apron). After some weeks the student will be told to wear kote (gauntlets) as well. Finally the men (helmet) is worn. From that point the student is eligible to wear full bogu at all training sessions.
Ben Sheppard holds the rank of 6th dan in Kendo. He first started Kendo in 1983 and has taught Kendo regularly since 1995, first at University of Melbourne and then at Nanseikan. Currently he is a VIT-registered teacher at Brunswick Secondary College, where he teaches Art. He also teaches Kendo as a co-curricular program of the school. Ben has a Masters of Education majoring in Studies of Asia from Flinders University.
Ben has been a member of the Victorian State Kendo Team three times, is a former President of the Victorian Kendo Renmei and has represented Australia as a delegate at the International Kendo Leader's Summer School in Kitamoto and the Asian Zone Referee's Seminar in Seoul. Ben's special interest is in how teaching methodologies differ between Japanese and Australian Kendo dojos. He also works as a co-ordinator of the VKR's High School Kendo Development Program.