We did it!
The 3-person South African Jodo team who recently took part in the 21st European Jodo Championships (EJC) brought home 2 FIGHTING SPIRIT MEDALS! This is a fantastic accomplishment for South Africa's debut participation at an international Jodo event!
The Championship took place over 3 days in October 2023 in the beautiful surroundings of Magglingen, Switzerland. The weather was unusually warm for the northern hemisphere's autumn season, but it was a pleasant surprise for all those who came.
Day 1 was a seminar day hosted by the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) delegation of FUJISAKI Koro sensei (Jodo Hanshi Hachidan / 8th dan) and HATTORI Tomoji sensei (Jodo Kyoshi Hachidan / 8th dan). With masterful precision of their movements, the sensei provided further insight into the various Jodo kihon (basics) and kata (set patterns) so as to help us further our understanding of this fascinating martial art. As the day drew to an end, the excitement of the followings day's competition in the competitors was evident through their spirited last-minute training efforts. It should be noted that in a Jodo competition, provided that competitor is 18 years or older, both men and women can compete in the same category. Jodo competitors (and their sword-wielding partners) are to perform a set series of kata in front of 3 referees who are seated in a triangular formation. After the performance, the referees will, through the use of a red and white flag, simultaneously announce who they think the winner of that performance was. The competitor with the greater number of flags raised for them, wins that match.
L-R: Heinz WEILERT, Jason EASON, HATTORI Tomoji sensei, FUJISAKI Koro sensei, Warren HO
Day 2 was the Individual competition event and began with a weapons check to ensure that all weapons were suitable and safe for use. This will followed by the opening ceremony where each country and it's representative were called up to stand up in the Swiss National Sports Centre in front of the various VIP's and referees. The South African team was met with loud applause when announced - a truly humbling and proud moment for each team member.
Finally it was time for the competition to begin. Heinz WEILERT and Warren HO took part in the nidan (2nd dan) category and fought bravely in their pool matches, but only Warren HO was able to advance to the KO rounds. However, he was knocked out by his Finish opponent, Emil Sågfors, who eventually went on to win the Gold Medal (1st place) in the nidan category. Jason EASON, who competed in the shodan (1st dan) category, was also able to proceed beyond his pool matches, but was also beaten in the first round of KO matches. However, Jason EASON's display of courage and determination was enough to impress the referees and managed to secure him a Fighting Spirit Medal - South Africa's 1st medal EVER at an international Jodo event that will definitely go down in the South African martial arts history books!
The day concluded with some intense competition in the various categories of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th , 5th and 6th dan. Each level requiring greater precision, speed, skill and focus from the competitors and referees alike.
Day 3 was the team competition event that was again preceded by a weapon's check and opening ceremony. The team competition comprises of a 3-person team, who's sum of their dan grade can not exceed 10 dan, nor can any individual member be higher than a 5th dan.
The South African team had to face some tough competition, namely the teams from Sweden and Germany, both who eventually went on to win the Bronze Medals (3rd place). The eventual team champion was Poland (Gold Medal, 1st place) ,and team vice-champion, United Kingdom (Silver Medal, 2nd place).
The South African team fought gallantly, but the lack of competition experience, and some much-needed direct, in-person sensei-guidance, was evident. However, South Africa was once again recognised for their Fighting Spirit when Warren HO went on to secure another medal at the end of the day - South Africa's 2nd medal at its 1st international Jodo competition!
In conclusion, on behalf of the South African Jodo team and the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF), we'd like to give a heartfelt thank you to all that made this Championship possible. Well done and thank-you to the Swiss Kendo + Iaido (SKI) for hosting such a professional event of this magnitude. Everything went by with Swiss-precision clockwork (all puns intended)!
A sincere thank-you must also go out to all the fellow Jodo-active countries who took part at this EJC, and whom had gave us such a warm reception, and offered advise and knowledge so generously.
Lastly, the efforts of all the sensei's, especially Pam PARKER sensei (USA) and Katja FLEURY sensei (Switzerland) , can not be overstated. Their patience, tutelage and expertise, is what brought us to this moment. Our FIGHTING SPIRIT awards are dedicated to their commitment and efforts to help grow South African Jodo. Thank you, sensei!
We will continue to development and promote Jodo in South Africa and hopefully strive towards greater heights in the near future.
21st EJC Individual and Team Competitor & Team Manager
RKC Dojo Head Sensei
The SA Jodo team with Katja FLEURY sensei of Switzerland (Jodo 6th Dan)
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.
RKC DOJO has 2 training venues within Johannesburg - RIVONIA and OBSERVATORY.
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