Getting to know Sensei - Cedric Jacques
In a recent interview with the local newspapers, Cedric Jacques sensei completed a list of answers to their questions. This made for some very interesting reading that will help you get to know him better! Here are the questions and answers:
Question 1: Who are you and where are you from?
Response: CJ Jacques
My name is Cedric Jacques Jacques (yes, my surname and middle name is the same and there is an interesting story behind that) and I work in the Information Technology and Procurement environment, within the Mining Industry.
I am also a proud member of the Ryū Ken Chi dojo in Rivonia (Sandton, Johannesburg), where I am a practitioner of martial arts as well as a Sensei (teacher). I hold my 5th Dan in Kendo and my 1st Kyu in Iaido.
I have been practicing Kendo for the past twenty-four (24) years. Kendo may be described as the way of the sword and is a Japanese martial art based on the teachings and practices of the ancient Japanese Samurai warriors. It’s a full contact sport, making use of bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armour (bōgu). In 2000, I was honoured to be awarded with my South African Protea colours in Kendo.
Iaido is something that has always interested me over the years. Iaido is also a Japanese martial art that is all about drawing and cutting with the sword, with emphasis on being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to sudden attacks.
The foundation of my martial arts practice began as a child when I had the opportunity to begin Karate at the age of 6 and continued for over a decade. I hold a purple belt in Karate.
Whilst I have lived in various parts of South Africa, I currently reside in Sunninghill, a quiet little suburb in the north of Johannesburg. In my childhood, I was fortunate to have lived in Namibia for a number of years. Coincidentally, it was in Namibia that I began Karate.
Question 2: Why did you start practicing Kendo?
Response: CJ Jacques
As a young boy, I was fascinated with swords and especially loved watching those TV series and movies as well as reading story-books with brave heroes brandishing swords. For your readers who are old enough to remember He-Man and the Masters of the universe or Voltron, the stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table or the infamous Conan the Barbarian, these are the kinds of fantasy stories that held me captive. Over the years, I had toyed with the idea of other sports involving swords, including fencing and sabres, however none of these really appealed to me.
When I learnt about Kendo and began my practice of this martial art in the late 1990’s, it instantly hit home and resonated powerfully with me. It was more than just the actual sport. It was all about what Kendo stood for, and what the fundamental tenets were. In the 1970’s the All Japan Kendo Federation developed and published the concept and purpose of Kendo, which I was able to connect deeply to.
Very briefly, the fundamental concept of Kendo is usually described as a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana (traditional Samurai sword). The purpose of Kendo is to mould the mind and body, to cultivate a vigorous spirit through correct and structured training, to strive for improvement in the art of Kendo, to hold courtesy and honour in high esteem, to be sincere in one’s association with others and to continuously strive for self-development (cultivation of self). In so doing, one will be able to love one's country and society, to contribute to the development of culture and to promote peace and prosperity among all people.
My practice of Kendo and my ability to give back through my teaching, has been of tremendous benefit to me, on every level, and is something I would encourage anyone to practice. Of note to mention, Warren Ho who runs the Ryū Ken Chi dojo where I practice, has also established Kendo Kids where self-confidence, resilience and discipline is encouraged within children through the practice of Kendo. Check out Ryū Ken Chi dojo on https://www.rkcdojo.com/ .
Question 3: What does being in the South African national Kendo team mean to you?
Response: CJ Jacques
It is an honour to be part of the South African national Kendo team. I applaud and admire the work being done by Michael Grice, President of the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF) to raise awareness of Kendo both locally and internationally and show that South African Kendokas (practitioners of Kendo) have what it takes to compete toe to toe, or perhaps that should be, shinai to shinai, on a global scale.
The network of South African Kendo practitioners is not as expansive as in other countries, but we are growing steadily and we have (in my view) some of the best senseis and students who sincerely appreciate the concept and purpose of Kendo. Hence it is indeed an honour and a privilege to be associated with the SAKF and a member of the South African national Kendo team. In addition to myself, the rest of the team members are: Yentl Krugel, Wendy Vermeulen, Natalie Morris, Brendan Dateling, Mitchell Kyle, Sebastian Holscher, Terry Chau, Brandon-Lee Coskey and Michael Grice.
Question 4: How would you describe the training for the upcoming European Kendo Championship (EKC)?
Response: CJ Jacques
I have a vigorous training schedule with at least three sessions a week in the dojo. While training with the South African squad for the upcoming EKC, I am also simultaneously continuing my discipline of practicing and teaching Kendo at Ryū Ken Chi dojo.
It is important to note that training is not just a physical exercise. In my view it is pointless to exclusively condition your body at the expense or other important components that constitute the whole person. So I have been working on other less mainstream aspects of my overall training which I can openly admit has not been easy, however it is a journey that I am committed to. To that end allow me to acknowledge how truly grateful I am for the solid support structure surrounding me within my personal life/ family, professional environment and within the Kendo community that enables me to be the best that I can be.
I must also commend both Warren Ho (Ryū Ken Chi dojo) and Michael Grice (President of SAKF) for their efforts to extend the practice, training and awareness of Kendo beyond the norm. For instance, Warren has arranged a Gasshuku for the end of February; it will be an opportunity for us at the Ryū Ken Chi dojo to get away for the weekend with our families, where we can focus on training, have fun and deepen our sense of family and connection as dojo members. I’m really looking forward to that.
I am also excited about the SAKF 2022 International Seminar & Sefor Cup arranged by Michael and scheduled for March 2022. This highly anticipated event is open to all South African Kendokas (dojo representatives and members), where, in addition to training and competing, we will have the unique opportunity to listen to and learn from internationally acclaimed Sensei’s and speakers from around the world, including Germany, Finland and Austria. All these efforts contribute to the bigger picture of training for the upcoming EKF Championship in Germany.
Question 5: What is expected of you and South Africa’s performance at the European Kendo Championship scheduled for end May 2022 in Germany?
Response: CJ Jacques
I am going to Germany as a member of the South African Kendo Team and I am additionally going to challenge for my sixth (6th) Dan in Kendo. So it is undoubtedly a great honour for me to have the opportunity to elevate the profile of the Kendo as a martial art being practiced in South Africa as well as the efforts of the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF).
It is far too easy to say that the expectation of me and the team is to win. Undoubtedly, this is a championship and as a South African team, we are going to Germany, bringing our A-game with us. But we are also going there as proud Ambassadors of South Africa and the SAKF. As a team, we will showcase and spotlight our talent and teachings and above all else, we will represent the SAKF and our country with courage, honour and integrity.
So thank you to everyone for their love and support… and to our fellow Kendo practitioners that we will meet in Germany in a few months, let me just say, “Achtung! Don’t take the South African Kendo team for granted.”
The above article appeared in the CAXTON'S SANDTON CRONINLES ON 9 March 2022. Links to that online article can be found here: https://sandtonchronicle.co.za/311021/rivonia-kendo-athletes-go-international/
* NOTE - A slight correction to the article: It states incorrectly that Cedric JACQUES is "the most experienced international competitor on the team", when it fact it should read that he is "ONE OF the most experienced international competitor on the team".
The Ryū Ken Chi (RKC) Dojo train the traditional Japanese martial arts of Kendo and Iaido (sword-based martial arts), as well as Jodo (the art of the short staff), that encourages the cultivation of the human character.
Kendo Kid is also available for children aged 6-11 years old.
RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY. Online training is also available.
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