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 the lands we visit when travelling around Australia.
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Nanseikan Kendo Club was founded in 2002 to spread the practice of the Japanese art of Kendo in Melbourne (Naarm), Australia. We are a small, not-for-profit club run by members for members. We are affiliated with the Victorian Kendo Renmei, the peak body for Kendo in Victoria.
Kendo (剣道) in Japanese means "the Way of the Sword" and is directly descended from techniques and knowledge developed over hundreds of years by the Japanese bushi (武士) or samurai (侍) for use in one-on-one combat.
Scroll down for information regarding:
- contact info
- training times
- training fees
- membership fees
- beginners courses
- basic dojo etiquette
- basic equipment requirements for beginners
- club philosophy
- instructor profile
Saturdays 10.00 am to 12 noon
We train during Victorian Government school terms and break during school holidays.
The first training is always the Saturday at the end of the first week of term. The last training is always the Wednesday in the first week of holidays. Specific and current dates can be found here.
Hall of St Pius X Primary School, 431 Waterdale Rd, Heidelberg West, Victoria.
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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 and whether you intend to train once or twice a week. Terms are between nine weeks and eleven weeks long.
All practising kenshi should become financial members of the Victorian Kendo Renmei (VKR) as soon as possible after completing the beginners' course. This costs $50.00/year for juniors (under 18) and $85.00 for adults. The VKR membership year is from 1 July to 30 June. Those who start in semester 2 are eligible for a one-off half-year membership. VKR membership is organised through the club.
Membership of the governing bodies for Kendo -- the VKR and the Australian Kendo Renmei (AKR) 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 VKR and AKR are affiliated with the International Kendo Federation, which means that grades awarded in Australia are recognised in Japan and all 42 affiliated countries.
To become a member of the VKR, please use their online portal.
Beginners' courses are held twice a year in February and August.
In the dojo
Also see COVID-safe
The first activity is mopping the floor by hand in the traditional Japanese manner (zokin wo sasuru). 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.
Training is highly-structured and follows a very similar format week after week. Training is made up of keiko (full contact training), and kata (non-contact forms).
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 push themselves to their limits, both in terms of energy and focus.
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 otherwise 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 between $60 and $100.00
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 $250 (less for children's sizes). The club may also 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.
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 and 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 diversity: people of different ages, abilities, genders, ethnicities and religions. Kendo is not a religion but please be advised that correct practice of Kendo requires bowing as part of its historical and cultural traditions.
- In the dojo, the only student response to the teacher's instructions is affirmation ("hai!") 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'.
- Intellectual analysis of technique or training methods is discouraged during training. The Western style 'Socratic method' (where understanding is arrived at through the student asking questions) is not part of Kendo or traditional Japanese culture. But again, discussion and analysis is definitely encouraged outside training.
- 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 limit a person's individuality or creative expression. What it can do instead is emphasise the things that we have in common. Paradoxically the thing that you notice most when people are all dressed the same is how fundamentally diverse they are! Not just body size and shape but the way every person moves in space is unique. 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.
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. Sheppard sensei has competed with distinction in numerous state and national competitions and has been an Australian delegate at FIK Asia Zone Shinpan Seminars and the International Kendo Leaders' Summer School in Kitamoto. He is a past President of the Victorian Kendo Renmei (VKR) and is a recipient of the Australian Kendo Renmei's John Butler Memorial Award for his work in developing junior Kendo in Australia.
He also holds the rank of 2nd dan in Tatsumi Ryu Hyoho, a comprehensive martial system founded in the Sengoku Era (1467-1615 CE) and designated by Chiba Prefectural government as an Intangible Cultural Asset (無形文化財).