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Meet RKC Dojo Member, James


James does Kendo, Iaido and Jodo at the RKC Dojo

My name is James Miller and I am 58 yrs old and I have been practicing Kendo, Jodo and Iaido at the RKC Dojo at the Rivonia Sports Club since 2019.
I am an Emergency Care Practitioner (Advanced Paramedic) working at the Gauteng Department of Health in the Emergency Medical Services Directorate. I work in the Quality Assurance department. I graduated from Technikon Witwatersrand (now the University of Johannesburg) in 1988 and have worked in the Emergency Medical Services here in SA and overseas ever since.
I enjoy family and friends, motorcycling and camping, medical studies and research but my major activities, outside of work are of course, the Japanese Sword Martial Arts i.e. Kendo, Jodo and Iaido.

1. How did you become interested in practicing martial arts in a dojo?


My Martial Arts practice began in 1984, there was a Dojo very close to where I worked, I found attendance was easy and a pleasure due to the positive motivational attitudes and encouragement from the Senseis and Sampais at the time. I could attend directly afterwork and on Saturday mornings.



2. Which specific martial art(s) do you practice, and what attracted you to that style?


In these days JKA Karatedo was the only locally available martial art in the Randburg area. Later in 1987 Kendo was introduced at another Karatedo dojo, I had the opportunity to train Kendo for a few months before my studies took me away. Kendo was very different to Karatedo and there was always lots to learn. The almost continual learning cycle in Kendo was very attractive to me.


Iaido has recently been introduced at the RKC Dojo, this martial art requires great control as it is done with a realistic sword and overtime, with a real steel sharpened katana. I look forward to challenging the Nidan examination in 2024.


Jodo was also introduced at the RKC dojo. The challenge here is synchronicity with your partner. I also look forward in challenging the Shodan examine in 2024.



3. How long have you been training in the dojo, and what progress have you noticed in yourself since starting?


I have been training at the RKC Dojo since 2019, progress in Kendo, Jodo and Iaido is very carefully observed by a set of grading examinations. Additionally, performance feedback is also available to students on a one-on-one basis after every session. The biggest sign of progress for me has be my ability to memorise the Kata technical aspects for Kendo, Jodo and Iaido simultaneously.



4. What aspects of training in a dojo do you find most challenging or rewarding?


Kendo Keiko represents is most challenging aspect of all of the three Sword Martial arts due to my age, I am almost 60 years old, attention to fitness and the correct lifestyle choices becomes increasingly challenging with age.



5. Can you describe the typical structure of a training session at your dojo?


All three ZNKR Sword martial Arts follow the same traditional training structures depending on the time available for training, namely:


Warm up, Kata (Fixed form practice), Kihon (Technique Practice) and Keiko (sparing). These forms of Kata, Kihon and Keiko will change in each martial art accordingly (we do not spar with real swords…we have teki….)



6. How important is the sensei (instructor) in your martial arts journey, and what qualities do you admire in your sensei?


Without a Dojo Leader or head instructor (Sensei) training is not possible. There are many qualities a good instructor must have; the ability to motivate others positively, a passion to teach, patience and a keen eye to observe the student group and give corrective guidance. In most martial arts this also incorporates the teaching of Budo.


7. Have you encountered any obstacles or difficulties in your training, and how have you overcome them?


The biggest issue by far is achieving a satisfactory attendance at the Dojo, this requires lifestyle and workplace changes. The understanding and the participation of family members in the achieving of Dojo attendance is important, without their cooperation, attendance will be difficult. I am fortunate that my family understands my goals. Attendance is defined as 100% plus.



8. What principles or philosophies from your martial arts training do you apply to your daily life?


No constant process can be made in life with dedication. In Kendo we say; you really only get out what you put in. This simple philosophy of constant dedication and preparation must be equally applied in life to be successful and happy.



9. In what ways has practicing martial arts in a dojo impacted your physical and mental well-being?


Exercise every day is explicably linked to human physical and mental well-being, this exercise in my case is more so important, I am a diabetic; exercise forms a major part of my daily glycaemic control. Additionally, as a senior clinician in the Department of Health, an ongoing ability to think in stressful situations, like what is developed in Kendo Keiko, Iaido embu and Jodo taikai, is a useful talent.



10. Do you participate in any competitions or demonstrations as part of your martial arts training? If so, how do these experiences contribute to your overall growth?


In education as a general principal, we say there is no education without assessment. Competitions and demonstrations form an important part of a practitioner’s education in Kendo, Iaido or Jodo. The challenge of a test. The building of confidence can only be gained through the experience of psychological stressors such as the performance of Kata in front of an audience or overcoming the challenge of an opponent in a competition. I find with every demonstration I do I enjoy it more and more.





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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 6-12 years old. 4

RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY.

Please follow us on our various social media platforms:

Website: www.rkcdojo.com

Instagram: @rkc_dojo

TikTok: rkcdojo



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