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Triple Shinsa... First Ever in South Africa

Fig 1: History in the making!

On 20 August 2022, the Ryu Ken Chi (RKC) Dojo hosted a TRIPLE grading opportunity for those members who did Kendo, Iaido and/or Jodo. This was the FIRST time ever in the history of South African Kendo, Iaido, and Jodo history that such a momentous occasion was held!

The Iaido candidate (only one candidate) was up first. After an intensive Kendo session before hand, James MILLER had to compose and re-center himself for his Iaido grading. In Iaido, the art of drawing and sheathing the sword, the practitioner must be completely focused and be mindful of his body, mind and spirit. The Iaidoka eventually will wield a sharp, live blade (known as a shinken), and hence this strict requirement of absolute focus! For James' grading requirements, 5 of the AJKF (All Japan Kendo Federation) kata needed to completed within a 6 minute time period. For now, the Iaidoka will use a blunted steel sword. and only progress to a shinken from his 3rd or 4th dan onwards (which implies almost 5-8 years of dedicated training beforehand). Being the only Iaido candidate, and being the first one to grade on the day, it was a challenge on its own. However, James successfully overcame it and passed his grading!

The three Jodo candidates were up next. Jodo, the art of of the short staff, is used as a defensive tool against the deadly sword. Being the only dojo in South Africa that practices Jodo, this grading was a vital step in growing this fascinating art further in the country. Jodo initially comprises of 3 practise: initially the basics (or kihon) is done by the jodoka by themselves. The second practise is done with a partner, where one partner will wield a jo (the staff), while the other wields a bokken (wooden sword). The basics of the jo is again practiced, but this time against a person who will attempt to cut with the wooden sword. The final practise is that of kata, or a set pattern or routine with 2 people - one wielding a a jo, the other a bokken. Kata can comprise from a few steps to a few dozen steps within the routine, and must incorporate many of the more "esoteric" principles such as seme (pressure), zanshin (state of awareness) and fighting spirit.

Lastly, was the Kendo grading. Kendo, having been practised in South Africa for almost 30 years, has a mature and structured grading syllabus which is used as a training guideline by all dojos affiliated with the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF). Kendo, which uses body armour (bogu) and bamboo swords (shinai), allows for full contact sparring by the kendoka. This type of sparring invokes the more primal emotions to be exposed, and ultimately provides a training ground to better manage those emotions in the world outside of the dojo. Kendo's main objective is to "discipline the human character through the principles of the sword". With this in mind, Kendo can cater for students as young as 6 to as old as 78!

This grading drew RKC Dojo members from both the Rivonia dojo and the Observatory dojo. Furthermore, three of the Kendo Kids (under 12 year olds who have their own separate classes away from he adults) were also at this grading. For some, this was the first time meeting their fellow dojo members from the other dojos or other classes.

Logan NAIDOO, a long-standing RKC Dojo member, and also the recently-elected SAKF Technical Director, was present at all three of the gradings to act as a judge for the kendo grading, as well as to learn more about the other two arts of Iaido and Jodo, something his new SAKF EXCO role will require him to become familiar with.

In summary, the grading for all 3 of the disciplines was a success on two levels - Not only does the Ryu Ken Chi (RKC) Dojo grow stronger by gaining more higher-ranked members, but it also bodes well for the future growth of Kendo, Iaido and Jodo in South Africa.

Congratulations again to all the RKC Dojo Members who had successfully passed their respective grading(s)!

The RKC Dojo is the only dojo in the country that practices the 3 arts or Kendo, Iaido and Jodo, that fall under the auspices of the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF)

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Keep training. 💪👍


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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