header photo: Sakurajima erupting at dawn, seen from Minami Keisatsu Budokan, the main dojo for the Kagoshima Prefectural Police Dept, Kagoshima City, Japan

Contact us

nanseikan @ gmail dot com

Training times 

Saturdays 10.00 am to 12 noon

Wednesdays 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm

Beginners' courses take place twice a year
(next course commences 7 August 2021)

Trainings are during Victorian Government school terms


Hall of St Pius X Primary School, 431 Waterdale Rd, Heidelberg West, Victoria.

View Nanseikan Kendo Club in a larger map


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. 

Training fees are $10.00 per training ($5.00 for HC card holders and FT tertiary students)

Fees are paid in advance on the first day of term and depend on the number of weeks in the term. 

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. Contact the Membership Secretary via membership.nanseikan at gmail dot com

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.

Beginners' courses

Beginners' courses are held twice a year in February and August.

Beginners' classes are Saturday mornings; beginners do the first hour of training for the first three weeks of their course, and the full two hours for the remaining three weeks. 

We do not have specific classes for kids. Children and adults learn and train together in a small class environment. We encourage parents and their children, especially if under 10 years of age, to take part in the beginners' course together.

Club philosophy

We practice Kendo on the unceded lands of the people of the Wooi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation and we acknowledge their elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge the traditional custodians and ancestors of those lands we visit when travelling around Australia doing Kendo.

Nanseikan Kendo Club was founded in 2002 to spread the practice of the Japanese art of Kendo in Melbourne (Naarm), Australia. We are affiliated with the International Kendo Federation (FIK) through the Australian Kendo Renmei (AKR). Nanseikan is a member club of the Victorian Kendo Renmei (VKR), the peak body for the arts of Kendo, Iaido and Jodo in Victoria.

Our dojo ethos is 修正一如 which means "Practice and Enlightenment are One". To put it another way, the goal is the journey, the journey is the goal. This means that although we set targets for ourselves we know that it is the process of getting there that is the point of Kendo, indeed of life itself. For a more complete discussion of this term, have a look at this short article.

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. 

At Nanseikan we welcome people of different ages, abilities, genders, ethnicities and religions. Kendo is not a religion itself, but please be advised that correct practice of Kendo requires bowing as part of its historical and cultural traditions.

At Nanseikan, we strive to do a correct, Japanese Kendo, not to create a hybrid art or 'Aussie' version. The standard of Kendo in Japan is still much deeper than anywhere else and the dedication of Japanese kenshi is inspiring. We recognise that Japan is still the home of modern Kendo. However neither do we wish to keep Kendo locked in an idealised and imaginary past. For this reason, regular trips to Japan are desirable, in order to educate club members in the way Kendo is actually performed and practiced in Japan.

Even though it is slowly changing as Japan changes, nevertheless Kendo is an activity which still has very strong roots in traditional culture and to traditional notions of Japanese-ness. What this means is that Kendo retains strong aspects of Confucian hierarchy and a patriarchal power structure. At Nanseikan we try to be as conscious as possible of these historical biases in order to keep the best of Kendo's wonderful traditions whilst making it accessible to as many people as possible.

Two things that can be confronting are the (frequently male) teacher-focus of the dojo and the emphasis on muga (無我) or egolessness. These two things may seem to be anachronistic or oppressive to some people of European, African or Middle-Eastern heritage. They are very important parts of Kendo culture because they offer enormous potential for personal development. Two brief examples of how they appear in the dojo:
  1. In the dojo, the only student response to the teacher's instructions is affirmation and then full commitment. However questions, discussion and personal research are encouraged outside training. After every training we have a time for this called 'shugo'.
  2. In the dojo, personal adornment and expressions of individuality in dress or appearance are considered a distraction: for the wearer most of all! This is not meant to deny a person's individuality or creative expression. What it can do instead is help emphasise the things that we share in common. Paradoxically the thing that you notice most when people are all dressed the same is how individual they are! It can also allow the individual to step out of what may be their everyday persona and find a new and different expression of who they are through the medium of Kendo.
If you wish to find out more about this, please contact the instructor or come and visit a training session to speak with one of the members.

In the dojo...

Please note some of the procedures below are not practiced whilst in 'COVID-normal' training mode.  Further details on request. Also see https://www.kendo.org.au/p/2021-covid-policy.html

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 at Nanseikan from other dojos. 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.

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 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 from about $150 (less for children's sizes). 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.

The Instructor

Ben Sheppard holds the rank of Renshi 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. He is a VIT-registered classroom teacher and has a Cert IV TAE qualification for teaching in the TAFE sector. Ben has a Masters of Education majoring in Studies of Asia from Flinders University.

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