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Success for the Kendo Kids at the 2024 RKC Winter Championships

Updated: Jun 16

8 June 2024 - It was a cold but sunny South African winter's day, but the 2024 RKC Winter Championships, and especially the Kendo Kids competitions, produced some exhilarating Kendo moments that heated up the Rivonia Sports Club!

Kendo, the traditional Japanese martial art of swordsmanship, is not just a physical practice; it is a way of life that demands discipline, self-confidence, and resilience.

The Kendo Kids competition allowed the children to demonstrate this way of life through full contact sparring with their bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armour (bogu).

In Kendo, the objective is to score a valid point on the opponent, whilst engaging with each other in a 9x9 meter (and up to 11 x 11 m) area, within a set time limit. For the Kendo Kids, each round was 2 minutes. 2 points will get you the win!

There were 9 competitors this year who were divided into 2 age categories, namely the 8-10 year old group, and the 11-13 year old group.

Suri WILLIAMS (age 10, a student at Crawford College in Benmore, Sandton) was the winner of the 8-10 year old category, and had this to say about her experience: "When they announced my name as the winner, I was so surprised and felt elated! I could not believe it!".

Suri further went on to express why she does Kendo: "I love Kendo because I have made good friends and, its a good workout! After Kendo I always feel happy and empowered."

Taking 2nd place in this category was 10 year old, Marcus LIN (a student at St Peter's Boys Prep). When asked how he felt about his silver medal achievement, he said: "When I won one match, I became better and more confident. When I play with someone taller than me, I felt very very nervous, but was still able to hit their kote and Do. I won three matches. But in the final I lost, so I got second place. I felt good to get the second place."

Marcus gave us further insight into his understanding of Kendo: "I think kendo is a reaction sport and you need to be focused during the competition and during the practice. You have to very respectful when you play kendo. If you show your emotion on the battlefield, you would get half a point taken away."

Photo of Marcus with his proud father, Gavin LIN.

Lastly, Redhill student, Nathan Ho, aged 9 and the youngest competitor at the Winter Championships, won the Fighting Spirit Award after showing courage and resilience during his matches. In one of his matches, he received 2 painful strikes to his legs, which caused him to shed a few tears and stop the fight. However, after a pep talk from his sensei, he was back in the shiai-jo (fight area) with even more determination to keep on fighting!

Photo of Nathan with his father, Warren and grandfather, James.

In the age 10-13 category, Caden HOWELL (13), a St. Peter's College student, improved on his previous year's performance of 2nd place by winning the top spot this year!

When asked about his achievement, Caden had this to say: "As I was training for my competition two days before I was thinking about the techniques I would use, I also thought in the eyes of my opponents thinking about what they would do. Going into the the competition I felt nervous but when I finished my first fight I felt that it was no biggie, but in the finals as I was fighting it felt surreal the adrenaline I felt was amazing and just as quickly as it started it finished. Walking up to get my first place medal felt like I had just accomplished something In my life. Don’t do things because you want to do things do it because you love to!"

Caden also elaborated on why kendo keeps it "REAL" for him: "When I started Kendo I thought that I was just trying it and thought that I’d lose interest. But, a couple minutes turned into hours, then days, then months and now years! I have a burning passion for kendo. I really do love it, the fighting, the suburi, and just waving my sword around, makes me feel alive. I wouldn’t know my life without it. Kendo is what makes me ME!"

Connor DINGLI (13), who only started Kendo in January 2024, surprised even himself by making it to the finals of his category and obtaining the 2nd place position! "I thought the competition was really fun and I really enjoyed it. I was very surprised when I realised I was going into the finals and super happy with my second place award. I was very proud of myself. I think Kendo is an amazing sport which I really enjoy doing. I have met lots of nice people and have so much fun training. I love the rush of excitement when I step onto the battlefield and the way that my armour feels when I put it on".

Jamie LEWIS (12), also a Crawford College Sandon pupil, and last year's winner of the competition, won the Fighting Spirit Award for her category at the event this year.

The other Kendo Kids who participated were also rewarded with the "SHUGYO" award which has a message of encouragement that reads: "Continue to train hard and improve you body & mind" .

Congratulations and well done to all our Kendo Kids!

Kendo Kids Instructor, Nirisoa RASAMIJAO, concluded with this statement: "The kids must be commended for their participation during the RKC Winter Championship. For many, it was their first official shiai (competition), which is a daunting experience. But they all showed up on the day! Some even competed against adults in the kata competition. It was sheer joy watching these children putting energy and tenacity into their fights. Kudos! I look forward to witnessing many more of their kendo milestones."

As the RKC's Kendo Kids continue to shine, they serve as beacons of inspiration for kendo practitioners both young and old. Their dedication, passion, and indomitable spirit remind us that success is not just about winning medals; it is about embodying the principles of Kendo in every aspect of our lives. Through their success stories, they encourage others to push their limits, strive for excellence, and embrace the path of the warrior with courage and humility.

Explicit permission was given by the parents to allow pictures of their Kendo Kids to be published on social media.

The RKC Dojo Kendo Kids program is open for both boys and girls aged 6-13 years old, and is a fun and interactive training program that allows a child to experience a traditional Japanese martial art using a bamboo "sword".

Other benefits include: discipline, self-control, stress relief, confidence-building, social interaction and builds resilience.

Kendo Kids train every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30pm - 4:30pm at the Rivonia Sports Club, 47 Achter Road, Paulshoff. For more information, please visit, or call Warren HO on 082 389 9098.

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