December 2008 Newsletter


From Honbu Dojo

Our 45th anniversary year proved to be extremely eventful… some things you plan and other things just happen when you are least prepared.

ImageThe highlight of the year was of course our wonderful 45th anniversary Gashuku, attended by instructors and students from all over South Africa and abroad. The lowlight of the year was the collapse of the ceiling at Honbu dojo. We are grateful for two things however…it did not happen during the Gashuku and it did not happen when anyone was here or it could have caused damage to people as well as property.

At the beginning of the year (1st and 2nd March), we were privileged to host Sensei Bob Davies and his partner Shaz from TENSHIN SHINTO KATORI SHINTO RYU who presented an extremely interesting course on the Samurai sword and exposed the students to the ancient Japanese traditions and way of life. Sensei Bob also gave an illustrated lecture on his incredible pilgrimage from Mount Koya on Japan's main Honshu Island down to Shikoku Island to follow the classic 1,647 kilometre Japanese Buddhist 88 Temple trail around the island and then back to Mount Koya.

On the 28th, 29th 30th March Hanshi ran an instructors seminar at Honbu dojo and as well as all the local instructors, Shihan Allan Thomson from Riverside dojo in Johannesburg and Sensei Mauro Pereira from Morningside dojo in Durban, flew down to participate.

10th May we had our normal White belt Day and on 19th July the Green and Brown Belt Kata and Randori day. Thank you to Renshi Nico and dojo heads Shihan Lawrence Milward Bridges (head of Plumstead Dojo) Sensei Brian Woodland (head of Tygerberg dojo, Sensei Rijk de Jamaer (head of Hout Bay dojo) Sensei Kurt Wucherpfennig (head of Kalk Bay dojo) and Senseis Miles Pattrick and Shaun Beckley of Plumstead dojo and Sensei Cathy McCracken of Honbu dojo. The students are privileged to have access to such a wealth and diversity of knowledge provided by these dedicated instructors.

One of the most popular courses of the year was the CQP (close quarter protection) course held on the 5th July, given by Hanshi at Honbu dojo. Sensei Cathy Mc Cracken ran two successful women's training courses on 15th March and 17th May (see the article from Sensei Cathy).

Instead of the 100 rounds of Randori this year Hanshi decided to have a Marathon Kata training on the 8th November. This proved to be extremely popular and almost a relief after the annual Randori marathons. The participants on the Marathon Kata survived the ordeal, but complained about the blisters on the feet of course…. but they have a year to recover…. well done to those of you who participated, (including the white belts who would have been precluded from participating in the Randori of course).

The International Gashuku was held from 28th September to 3rd October at the Jan van Riebeeck High school. 60 participants from the Western Province, Boland. Joburg and Durban as well as from Britain, Namibia and Switzerland arrived in beautiful Cape Town to participate in the Gashuku. September in Cape Town had been very cold and rainy and we hoped that the weather would improve for this our 45th anniversary Gashuku. Well, fortunately the weather did improve and it only rained one day on the Gashuku, much to our (and especially the Swiss) relief.

The Gashuku started off in a traditional way with Shihan Henk Blankenberg leading a hike up Table Mountain on the Sunday morning before the start of the Gashuku.

All the participants clocked in at the school on Sunday afternoon and the training started in earnest on Monday morning. Hanshi worked out a very inclusive program, in which all the Shihan and dojo heads and senior instructors had to play a part. The school has a big hall next to the swimming pool and some of the training was done out of doors and the Black belts were also able to use Honbu dojo as it is so close to the school.

Hanshi and Renshi Nico handled some of the training with Renshi Paul and Shihan Juanita Baumann from Switzerland. Shihan Henk Blankenberg from the Boland, Shihan Lawrence Milward Bridges from Western Province, and Shihan Alan Thomson from Gauteng were responsible for much of the teaching, as were Sensei Brian Woodland form Tygerberg dojo, Sensei Kurt Wucherpfennig from Kalk Bay dojo, Sensei Cathy Mc Cracken and Sensei Markus Bauriedl from Honbu dojo and Sensei Mauro Pereira from Durban dojo.

All aspects of Kushido were covered and the students had a variety of excellent teachers, which made this a very special, and successful Gashuku and a fitting celebration of the 45 years we have been in existence.

We always try to do 'something different' during the Gashuku and this year we invited the capoeira instructor (who also gives classes at Honbu now) to give a class at the Gashuku. This proved quite difficult and caused much laughter but was enjoyed by all. Thank you Renaud!

At the end of the Gashuku some of the instructors and students went 'river rafting' on the Orange river led by David Kriel who is an experienced tour guide. He is a brown Belt from Honbu dojo and is otherwise known as 'Big Chief Running Water'.

On the 25th October we had a terrible shock when we arrived at the dojo for the normal Saturday morning training only to find that the ceiling had collapsed and it really looked like a tornado had hit. (The ceiling had not been in a good state of repair but this was totally unexpected) It took a few weeks to clean up the mess and we had to cancel some of the classes and then we lived on a 'building site' while the rest of the ceiling was removed and the new ceiling and lights were installed.

All the posters and the wall hangings had to be removed and there was a lot of damage. Once the ceiling and lights were up again students and instructors from Honbu and all the other Western Province dojos came to help to put up the posters and all the other wall hangings and to paint the walls and even sand and seal our huge wooden badge. Thank you so very much…I will not mention your names because there were so many of you who came to help and we really appreciate it. This showed the true spirit of Budo. The dojo now looks very good and in the end it was all worth it. (We are relieved that this did not occur during the Gashuku).

This year we celebrated the marriage of Sensei Mauro Pereira to his beautiful bride Annie (who also happens to be one of his students) and of course for the honeymoon he brought her on the Gashuku. We applaud that Sensei and hope that the unmarried Senseis will take a leaf out of your book!

This year the following achieved higher grades:

Amanda Adams (Shodan, Kalk Bay dojo)
Sakkie Jooste (Nidan Oranjemund dojo)
Sandy Standish (Sandan Plumstead Dojo)
Shaun Beckley (Sandan Plumstead Dojo)

On the 6th December we invited all the 'old' and 'new' Black Belts to join us at Honbu for a 'get together' in celebration of our 45th anniversary year. Unfortunately we could not trace some of the 'oldies' but hoped that they would see our anniversary page in the Cape Times. A special thanks to Sensei Cathy for helping with the catering and to Liz for her excellent work in producing the newsletter every year.

Take care and be aware.

From Hanshi and Merelle