IAIDO is the Japanese martial art of drawing and sheathing of the sword and requires intense focus and concentration in order to gain mastery over one’s body, mind and emotions. Practitioners of Iaido generally practise kata (or set patterns) by themselves as they eventually progress onto using a razor-sharp katana (or a real Japanese sword with a cutting edge).
Jodo is the Japanese martial art of the short stick (or staff). Using a 128cm staff, the practitioners of Jodo learn how to defend against the deadly katana. Used predominately back in the day to help keep the samurai warriors in check without injuring them too badly so that they could still be called upon to fight for their daimyo or feudal lords. In the modern practise of Jodo, both the practitioners of the jo (the staff) and the (wooden) sword must have excellent co-ordination and timing between them so as to not injure each other at all.
Over the period 31 March to 3 April 2022, two South African members of the Ryu Ken Chi (RKC) Dojo in Rivonia, took part in the “Great Iaido and Jodo Seminar and Grading” in Magglingen, Switzerland, organised by the Swiss Kendo and Iaido Association. With close on 200+ participants over the 4 days, the atmosphere at the seminar was one of both excitement and relief. “Excitement” as there is nothing quite like the sounds of 150 swords cutting through the air of a large hall, and “relief” because it has been 2 long years that such a seminar of this size was held again.
Warren HO, who successfully graded to his IAIDO 1st dan (shodan), as well as his JODO shodan, had this to say: “Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, it has been over 2 years of dedicated online training with our international senseis to get us to a point where we could travel overseas again and finally take the examinations for our respective grades! A huge thank you to our senseis, Pam PARKER sensei of the USA and Stephan NAJI sensei of France, and our other international friends for all the support and encouragement they gave us during this time! Our grading success is thanks to their generous time and knowledge! I dedicate these gradings to them!”
Jayson ROTHMAN, who also successfully graded to his IAIDO 1st dan (shodan), had his first ever experience of snow whilst staying at the Swiss Olympic training venue in Magglingen! ROTHMAN, who is the assistant Iaido instructor at the RKC Dojo in Rivonia, said meeting Pam PARKER sensei in person was one of the most memorable moments of his trip. He added, “"I met my hero and was amazed by the absolute power house that this little, petite woman is!"
HO, the RKC DOJO’s chief instructor comments that although they are now shodans (1st dans) in their respective arts, that this is merely the beginning of their martial arts journey. “The 1st dan means you have studied some of the fundamental” building blocks of that art, but now the journey forward is to go and build and create something from it! This can only be done through more dedicated and consistent training. One of our goals is to represent South Africa at the European Iaido Championships (EIC) and European Jodo Championships (EJC) later this year or the next!”
Iaido and Jodo provide a much “quieter” and contemplative alternative martial arts compared to their louder and more cardio-intensive sibling, Kendo, which uses bamboo swords and body armour for full contact sparring during their practise, whilst screaming at the top of their lungs as part of their “KIAI”!
PRO TIP: Unlike some other martial arts, there are no “coloured” belts in Kendo, Iaido or Jodo to show ones rank or skill level. However, the shodan (1st dan) is the equivalent of that of a “1st Degree Black Belt” of some other styles.
Extract of a post from the SAKF:
“Congratulations Warren Ho and Jayson Rothman on your success. South Africa is proud of you.
Warren Ho, 5th Dan kendo, successfully passed the JODO Shodan exam on Friday 1st April 2022, and passed the IAIDO Shodan exam on Sunday 3rd April 2022.
Jayson Rothman also passed his IAIDO Shodan alongside Warren Ho.
These are wonderful achievements for both Warren and Jayson, as well as for the future
of these arts in South Africa.
A brief SA history:
The previous South African to pass a JODO examination was Buster Sefor in 2002 (Shodan).
The previous South African to pass a IAIDO examination was Buster Sefor in 2005 (Yondan).
Warren Ho is the 6th South African in the history of the SAKF to hold Yudansha rank in all three arts, and currently the only active Yudansha member practicing Kendo, Iaido and Jodo.
Through the dedication and hard work put in by Warren Ho, Jayson Rothman and the students at RKC Dojo, the arts of Iaido and Jodo are once again actively practiced in South Africa. The further growth and development of Iaido and Jodo is good hands. “
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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