During the sixties, kendo in the UK was being practised in a very small way at Judo clubs, and other dojos, Nenriki Dojo was the only kendo dojo in London and it is here that many of us started, mainly from Judo backgrounds.
Some of us branched out and started up new dojos. Ours was in West London and our first home was in Hayes Sports Centre, Middlesex. Our sensei was the late Okimitsu Fujii (5th Dan). He helped us to obtain our armour and shinais, which were very difficult to obtain and very expensive at the time. We would soak our shinais in linseed oil and white spirit, to make them last longer, and repair any armour we could get.
Eventually things improved, our kendo got better, and our membership grew.
As yet we had no name, one night we stopped for a drink to discuss the different things we wanted for our club. We agreed we wanted the club to be open to all, and to have open minds, and ideas, for learning about kendo. One member, David Chambers, spoke some Japanese and came up with the name Mumeishi (no name) as we say “no master opens minds in kendo friendship”. Our Môn was drawn by another member, the Thinking Samurai, and the Bokuto Tsuba, representing training are both are in use today.
The club moved to Heston School, Hounslow, and became a night school club. Mr Holt was offered the position of kendo instructor, at the club, in 1971. At the time he was a member of the British Team and was training hard. He decided to take the job with help from Tony Crawford, who later went on to New Zealand and started Mumeishi NZ and NZ Kendo Federation. In the early years Mr Watanabe san, a student from Japan, was also a great support and friend.
The club became more popular, and we started training on a second night, but many of our members worked late, so we changed this to a Sunday morning practise in BA’s sports centre. We heard there was to be a new community school with a sports centre being built and we were asked if we wanted to bring the club over from Heston to the new Cranford Community College. This was a dream come true, it had everything we needed, a good dojo, good floor, changing room, so we moved in the week it opened, and have been there for over 40 years.
On the third week of every November, we take over the sports centre, to hold the Mumeishi 3’s International Kendo Championship. This was started by our members in 1973 and gives all kendoka of all grades and abilities the chance to take part in a major kendo event.
Many members helped to build the club over the years and internationally, Brent Gazzaniga, who moved to Australia and became a national team member and manager, started Mumeishi Kendo Club Melbourne and for the last 20 years he has been holding the Mumeishi 3’s championship in the Southern Hemisphere. Other members like Paul Budden, who wrote the book ‘Kendo Kata, Looking at a Far Mountain’, runs his own dojo, Kodokan in Rickmansworth, and Yoshinori Inoue now runs the Paris dojo Kenyu. Marco Edry runs Mumeishi kendo Club Tel-Aviv and Daryoush Saidi in Tehran.
Our members span the world, sadly some have passed away and we have honoured them in the past by naming our fighting spirit awards in their names, The Peter Cronin, Connie and Ernie & Connie Angell and Brian Kay, awards.
This is the spirit of Mumeishi Kendo Club, through friendly rivalry and friendship we can learn.
On 1st July 1998 Mr Holt, Mumeishi Kendo Club received The Japan Festival Award for outstanding achievements in furthering good understanding of Japanese culture in the UK.
We have been very fortunate in that we have a long standing association with some of the best 8th Dan sensei in Japan.
Sumi Masatake sensei is a globally renowned 8th Dan Hanshi who Holt sensei had the good fortune to meet in Paris 30 years ago through Kodokan leader Paul Budden Sensei (7th Dan). Holt sensei invited him and his family to come to Mumeishi London and ever since then he has made frequent visits to Mumeishi over the years.
Sumi Sensei has also been coming every year to teach correct kendo at the Kodokan seminar.
We also have ties to Sueno Eiji Sensei, All Japan Champion and highly respected teacher through Emiko Yoshikawa Sensei. Sueno Sensei runs a private seminar at Mumeishi once a year.
In 2008 Mumeishi Kendo Club Celebrated its 40th Anniversary. With a big celebration practice and party in London and another in Tokyo with ex members and friends.
in 2012 we have started a second children’s class which is bring in more children to kendo, which is very important for the clubs and kendo development.
Sadly we lost Holt Sensei in January 2015, but Mumeishi carries on his values and legacy today under the leadership of Emiko Yoshikawa sensei 6th Dan.
We hope that many more of you will come and join us and enjoy this very friendly activity that keeps you fit mentally and physical and can be very rewarding overall.
2018 is Mumeishi’s 50th Year and we hope you can join us to celebrate in the Dojo some time.