After you've finished reading this post, enjoy this great video of oji waza (counter-attacks) from a very kind Youtube user in Hiroshima. If you go to the Youtube page, you'll see they've given the timing references for all the different techniques displayed. I love the calligraphy "do" 道 at the end of the dojo.
For everyone, both our most recent beginners and our ongoing members, membership fees for the Australian Kendo Renmei and the Victorian Kendo Renmei are due by 15th June.
Why the 15th?
The VKR has recently introduced a cut-off date for memberships of the 15th of each month. This is to allow for processing. Remember the VKR is a small organisation run entirely by volunteers. So if you need to be registered as a member by the 1 July, then you need to get your application in by 15th of the month before.
Half year memberships
These don't apply now, but will be relevant to those who join the August beginners' course. Half-year memberships allow those joining late a reduced rate for membership to bring them into line with the normal membership year (1 July - 30 June). They are a one-off and only available to new members. These fees will be due on 15 December.
The first reason is insurance. When you are a member you have personal injury insurance. That means in the event of a serious injury requiring medical treatment you can get most if not all your costs covered. It also covers lost wages. For more information, go here.
The second reason is gradings. You can only grade if you have been a financial member for at least 3 months prior to the grading. As an ongoing member you can only keep any grades attained if you maintain your membership.
The third reason is competitions. Self-explanatory really.
The last reason is the community of kenshi. The AKR is made up of all the member states and territories in Australia (NT finally started their own Kendo Renmei last year, woohoo!). It is recognised by the Federal Government, as well as the International Kendo Renmei (and via the FIK, by the IOC and SportAccord) as the governing body for Kendo, Iaido and Jodo in Australia.
Sakurajima, the volcano that dominates the city of Kagoshima in southern Kyushu.
We have our personality clashes and falling-outs, but so far the organisation has remained strong and intact. I think this is because of the structure of Kendo in general. There is no "O-sensei" or Founder or "Soke", so there are no battles about whose Kendo is 'the correct Kendo' as there is often in other martial arts. Kendo is less of a pyramid, and more like Sakurajima: a high mountain with space on the summit for many awesome sensei. That means there are many, slightly different ways to embody the 'ultimate' Kendo. And that means we try to beat each other in keiko, not in righteousness!
To protect that community we need to first of all support it financially. Later on we can volunteer our time if we wish, to help run the organisation or events. Either way we should be grateful that we are part of a real and true Kendo organisation that has strong and ongoing links with the best Kendo in the world. When a VKR sensei says they can give you an introduction to a dojo or a university in Japan, you can be assured that when you arrive there you will receive a warm welcome, not the cold shoulder or quizzical looks. Even if you can't get to Japan in the foreseeable future, you will always have the chance to train with high level sensei who come to Australia to run seminars. In that situation you can make your own connections and promises to meet one day in Japan.
What are the precise rules and where are they written up?
The precise rules are: 5 months training prior to attempting 6th kyu and 3 of those months as a paid-up member. They are detailed in the AKR Kendo Board's Manual of Documents which can be found here.
For our members, especially our new ones, I have created an infographic that tries to present visually the different fees and when they are due throughout the year. Click on it twice to zoom in fully.