November 03, 2008

MKC gets write-up in The Commercial Appeal

Direct Link:

At Memphis Kendo Club classes, students get workout -- physical, mental and ethical

Stacey Greenberg, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, November 3, 2008

Ten-year-old Rowan Racine is dressed in a navy blue robe. In one hand he holds a long bamboo stick and in the other, a helmet, mask and chest plate.

Barefoot, he bows at the door of the Singleton Community Center gymnasium in Bartlett before quietly kneeling on the floor.

Kazuto Yasuda and Yuki Kasuya engaged in "Ji Geiko" or "free practice."
Photos by Chip Chockley/Special to The Commercial Appeal

Kazuto Yasuda performs "Migi-do uchi" or "strike to the right torso/trunk" on Yuki Kasuya.
Photos by Chip Chockley/Special to The Commercial Appeal

Welcome to the start of the Memphis Kendo Club's weekly practice.

Roughly 20 people, men and women of various ages and ethnicities, have gathered to study this ancient Japanese martial art, which translates to "way of the sword," originally practiced by the samurai class in the twelfth century.

Kendo provides both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, nurtures discipline and stamina and promotes a strong moral code. In modern Japan, kendo is taught in middle schools and is actively practiced by people throughout their lives -- well into their twilight years. Kendo has been gaining popularity in the United States over the past 30 years, and clubs can be found across the country.

After the initial meditation and warm-up exercises, the kenshi, or swordsmen, pair off and begin screaming at each other while beating one another over the head with their bamboo swords, called shinai. Each wears protective armor -- bogu -- which protects the head, wrists, chest and groin.

To say it looks intense would be an understatement.
Chip Chockley/Special to The Commercial Appeal
Jon Kahre and Rogers Gosset conducting "kakari geiko" or "attack practice" during a Memphis Kendo Club session.

Kendo uses the whole body. Even shouting (or "using voice"), which is vital to mastering the art, requires using the abdominal muscles. A two-hour practice involves a lot of sprinting and provides a great cardiovascular workout. However, physical prowess is less important than doing everything with full spirit and participation.

"Swing properly and the sword does all of the work," says Harry Dach, 58, owner of Dach Imports and lead instructor of the Memphis Kendo Club. He stresses that repetition leads to perfection in kendo, which he says can also be seen as boring or not exciting enough to some.

While stationed in Japan with the U.S. Marine Corps, Dach studied under Takaaki Nakahama, who gave him 32 complete sets of armor with an understanding that he would pass on his learning in the United States.

Dach has been teaching kendo in Memphis for more than 30 years without ever accepting a penny in payment. (Monthly fees for the use of practice space are paid directly to the Singleton Community Center.)

Rowan, who originally wanted to play soccer, started practicing kendo three years ago. His mother, who lacked the funds and transportation needed for the local soccer league, discovered kendo after flipping through the Singleton activity guide.

Rowan says he really likes the rules and etiquette of kendo and the physical activity it provides. He also admits it is fun to "hit people with big sticks."

Local artist Wayne Edge, 54, got interested in kendo nine years ago after taking his son to a class. "He didn't stick with it, but I did," he says. Edge has seen a lot of people come and go over the years and attributes the high attrition rate to the fact that not everyone likes yelling and getting hit.
"Once you get the bogu, kendo becomes much more physical," Edge explains, referring to the fact that beginners must master certain skills before being allowed to wear armor. The bogu can be uncomfortable and hot, making the sport even more physically demanding and mentally challenging.

At practices, beginners join the group for warm-up exercises and then work on the basics off to the side with one of the instructors.

Typically, a beginner spends three to six months learning proper kendo stance, shinai grip, swinging the shinai, foot movement, and eventually movement while swinging the shinai. Once he or she has mastered these skills, the student is loaned a set of bogu and invited to join the more advanced members of the club.

Once in the bogu, participants spend a good deal of class hitting and getting hit with the shinai while running back and forth. Although it may look intimidating, kendo is very safe.

Rogers Gossett, 36, who works for FedEx and has been studying kendo for 14 years, attests to the safety of the sport. "My only injury has been a strained muscle in my foot," he says, after listing a string of injuries he suffered while practicing taekwondo in college.

Blisters are actually the most common injury since kendo is practiced barefoot.

"I injure myself more doing carpentry," said Edge, who downplays the small bruises he sometimes gets when an opponent misses his armor, comparing them to hickeys.

They're nothing a modern-day samurai can't handle.

Memphis Kendo Club

The kendo club has open practices on Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Singleton Community Center, 7266 Third Road, in Bartlett.

New students, ages 8 and up, are welcome any time throughout the year.

Monthly dues are $20, payable directly to the Singleton Community Center for the use of practice space.

Beginners should dress in comfortable clothing and purchase a shinai (bamboo sword) and a bokken (wooden sword). Both are available at Dach Imports on Summer Avenue and online.
More information is available online at

October 06, 2008

2008 SEUSKF Shinsa Results (Memphis Club Members)

Congrats to the Memphis kenshi who passed shinsa this past weekend:

Rogers Gossett - 4.dan
Jeremiah Mazurek - 1.dan
Conrad Delancey - 1.kyu
Chris Cole - 1.kyu
Darren Williams - 1.kyu
Jon Kahre - 2.kyu
Rowan Troyer - 3.kyu
Joshua Schoeneberger - 3.kyu
Chris Corleone - 3.kyu
Shinn Tanaguchi - 5.kyu

2008 SEUSKF Tournament Results

There was a lot of great effort made by a host of volunteers (new students, moms and dads, etc.), and were it not for those folks, the tournament simply could not have happened. Thanks to everyone who sacrificed their weekend to help out!!

Final tournament results are as follows:

Youth A:
1. Riku Imamura, 6.kyu (Little Rock)
2. Sayaka Givens, 5.kyu (Little Rock)
3. Kai Imamura, 5.kyu (Little Rock)
3. Chris Corleone, 4.kyu (Memphis)

Youth B
1. Yuki Kasuya, 2.dan (Memphis)
2. Masumi Kamimura, 2.dan (Memphis)
3. Hayato Desouza, 1.dan (GKA)
3. Conrad Delancey, 2.kyu (Memphis)

1. Kevin Kim, 1.kyu (GKA)
2. Jamie Tillman, 1.kyu (Nashville)
3. Jiff Kim, 1.kyu (GKA)
3. Paul Kutz, 3.kyu (Charlotte)

1. Shingo Watanabe, 2.dan (Nashville)
2. Craig Philbeck, 2.dan (Charlotte)
3. Pavel Litterbach, 2.dan (GKA)
3. Yuki Kasuya, 2.dan (Memphis)

1. Masumi Kamimura, 2.dan (Memphis)
2. Ryoko Barr, 5.dan (GKA)
3. Sonoko Mori, 3.dan (Gulf Coast)
3. Reiko Desouza, 4.dan (GKA)

1. Tomoya Tanaka, 4.dan (GKA)
2. Katsuyuki Tamura, 4.dan (GKA)
3. Masahiro Ishizaka, 3.dan (Little Rock)
3. Yukihisa Tokunaga, 3.dan (Triangle)

1. Susumu Yazaki, 7.dan (Nashville)
2. Sakae Imai, 4.dan (Nashville)
3. Michio Kajitani, 6.dan (Little Rock)
3. Kunitoshi Arai, 6.dan (GKA)

1. GKA (A) - Akira Hara (3.dan), Pavel Litterbach (2.dan), Ryoko Barr (5.dan), Tomoya Tanaka (4.dan), Katsuyuki Tamura (4.dan)
2. Memphis (A) - Yuki Kasuya (2.dan), Don Crittenden (2.dan), Rogers Gossett (3.dan), Kazuto Yasuda (4.dan), Patrick Register (4.dan)
3. GKA (B) - Yuki Desouza (3.dan), Daniel Kim (3.dan), Stephen Kang (3.dan), Hyon-ki Yi (3.dan), Kentaro Hara (4.dan)
3. Nashville (A) - Dale Kirby (1.dan), Jamie Tillman (1.kyu), Susumu Watanabe (2.dan), Sakae Imai (4.dan), Susumu Yazaki (7.dan)

Takaaki Nakahama Memorial Kanto Sho Award - Patrick Register, 4.dan (Memphis)
Chris Aday Memorial Kanto Sho Award - Pavel Litterbach, 2.dan (GKA)

July 23, 2008

Kendo Medical Alert - Achilles Tendon

Pay attention to this and make yourself aware ----
Even though injuries in kendo are, by and large, not terribly common and not terribly major, Achilles Tendon injuries are not unheard of and they can be, to varying degrees, serious business. Snapping the Achilles Tendon isn't life threatening and, as I understand it, they tend to heal just fine with surgery and don't have real long-term detrimental effects to your ability to walk, run, etc., but those kinds of injuries can certainly affect your kendo future, so pay attention to this email I received a little while back, but have put off posting here...


Dear Fellow Kendoka and students of Budo:

This message is an urgent medical alert for all Budo students and specifically for Kendo and Naginata students.

Distribution list:
Budokai Kendo List
Budokai Business List
Arai Sensei
Maeda Sensei
Hyun Sensei
Strawn Sensei
Seto Sensei
Dr. David Hall / courtesy
Dr. Bill Dvorine / courtesy
Dr. T. Inoshita, GNEUSKF / courtesy
Summerlin Walker / courtesy
Mr. Alex Bennet, Kendo World Magazine / courtesy

On Tuesday, July 8 (yesterday), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a "Black Box" warning regarding the antibiotic drug Cipro. Specifically, the warning alerts all users of this drug, and the related antibiotic drugs Avelox, Floxin, Proquin, Levaquin, and Norfloxacin, that the use of these prescription antibiotic drugs has been linked to a significant weakening of muscular tendons, particularly the Achilles Tendon and the Rotator Cuff, and may contribute to tendon rupture or tendonitis.

See this link:

The story is also being given wide circulation on Reuters, the Associated Press, and CNN, and was a lead story this morning on CNN at 7:52 am EST.

The mechanism by which these drugs weaken muscular tendons is unclear, but it is believed that they raise the toxicity level in muscular tendons, thereby weakening the tendons and rendering them much more susceptible to rupture. What is certain, however, is that there is now a undeniable linkage between these drugs and an increased probability of tendon rupture, particularly the Achilles Tendon. As all Kendoka know (or should know), rupturing the Achilles Tendon is the most common and debilitating injury in Kendo, so this news is of particular interest to us. If you are practicing any martial art and particularly Kendo or Naginata, and you are taking any of these prescription drugs, you are in danger of rupturing your Achilles Tendon or tearing your Rotator Cuff. The obvious stress placed on the Achilles tendon in the practice of Kendo makes Kendoka particularly susceptible to this threat. If you are a Kendo student and currently taking any of these drugs, please consult your physician to see if there is a prescription alternative to these drugs, or consider modifying your practice schedule. Perhaps it is time to brush up on your Kata?

As Budokai Chairman for 2008, I request that all Budokai instructors share this information with their respective practice groups. As a member of the SEUSKF and a Kendoka, I urge my fellow Dojo leaders in SEUSKF, as well as the Dojo and Federation leaders copied in this message as a courtesy, to consider passing this message on to your clubs and students. I am also of the opinion that the AUSKF should probably alert member Federations as well.

I hope this message proves to be timely and useful to the Kendo community, and I pray that it serves to prevent any Kendoka on these medications from suffering an injury that would prevent them from enjoying this art that we all love so much. May we all train in good health!

Yours in Kendo,
Reverend Chion Ernest Lissabet
Chairman of the Board 2008
Capitol Area Budokai, Washington DC USA
Wednesday July 9, 2008

July 02, 2008

Club Zekken/Nafuda for Memphis Kendo

As the SEUSKF tournament approaches, some of you folks in bogu have been involved with kendo long enough for you to need a "nafuda" (or "zekken" or "thing-with-your-name-on-it-that-fits-on-the-tare").

It is highly recommended, encouraged, etc. (in fact, AUSKF laws REQUIRE it), that you purchase such an item prior to the SEUSKF tournament and since it normally takes around 4 weeks for them to get it back to you, this is something you need to think about (and order) fairly soon.

In order to maintain consistency (letter style, size, etc.) with those who already have them, we ask that you please place your order with E-BOGU at the following link:

If you order on your own, $35 is a fairly standard price to pay, regardless of what company you go with, so... please... go with E-bogu. If you go with anybody else, that's fine, but be advised that your zekken may NOT look exactly like everyone else's.

If at least 5 of you can get your collective minds and money together, there is a discount (see the link) if you order at the same time. Shipping is also free for any order more than $100 (I think that's still true.. see the website for details).

Ordering instructions:
1. access the above website linked.
2. click on "add to cart" and go through the process of filling out your information AND paying for the item
3. then PRINT OUT this form:
4. on the form, write MEMPHIS across the top line; write your last name in Romanji (that's "English") on the bottom line; write your last name in Katakana (or Kanji, if applicable) vertically down the center. It doesn't have to be perfect handwriting in any case, just so long as it's legible.
If you are not absolutely 100% certain of how to spell your name in katakana, please consult Yasuda-sensei.
5. after filling out the form in full (be sure to have your order # handy to write on the form as well), FAX the form to E-bogu. ***Obviously, you'll need several of these forms if you order as a group ****

June 11, 2008

MKC's Don Crittenden passes Iaido Shinsa

Congratulations to Don Crittenden who successfully challenged his 3.dan shinsa for Iaido in Pennsylvania recently!

May 21, 2008

No More Menjo in Japanese

Effective June 1, 2008, the AUSKF will no longer issue menjos in the Japanese language.

April 01, 2008

2nd Largest Club in the SEUSKF

Memphis Kendo Club, with 34 registered members, tied Koryu Dojo (Virginia) as the SECOND LARGEST kendo dojo in the Southeast U.S. Kendo Federation.

299 kenshi joined the SEUSKF this year and the breakdown is as follows:
1. Georgia Kendo Alliance - 62 members
2. Memphis Kendo Club - 34 members
2. Koryo Dojo (VA) - 34 members
4. Charlotte Kendo - 21 members
5. Northern Virginia Kendo - 19
6. Triangle Kendo Club - 15
7. Knoxville Kendo - 14
8. South Florida Kendo - 13
9. Baltimore-Annapolis Kendo - 12
9. Georgia Language School Kendo Club - 12
11. Summerlin Academy Kendo (FL) - 11
12. Nashville Kendo Club - 10
12. Peachtree City Kendo (GA) - 10
14. Shudokan USA (VA) - 9
15. East Georgia Kendo - 7
16. Annapolis Kendo - 6
16. North Raleigh Kendo - 6
18. Meguro Kendo Kai (FL) - 4

Clubs not having submitted dues:
Charleston Kendo Club
Gulf Coast Kendo
Il Kum Kwan

Memphis Kendo Club's registered AUSKF/SEUSKF membership jumped from 22 people in 2007 to 34 in 2008.

The SEUSKF covers kendo in 7 states: TN, GA, VA, NC, SC, FL, and MD

Great job, everyone! Thanks for joining!

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