London Mumeishi Dojo 40th Anniversary

This Dojo Files article originally appeared in Kendo World 4.4. In memory of Terry Holt-sensei we are reprinting the article here.

Dojo Files: Mumeishi Dojo
London Mumeishi Dojo 40th Anniversary
By Michael Komoto

Holt-sensei engaging keiko during gōdō-geiko at Shinjuku Sports Center.
Holt-sensei engaging keiko during gōdō-geiko at Shinjuku Sports Center.

In recent times, we take for granted the broad dissemination of kendo, popularization in modern culture, and the possibility of traveling and engaging in kendo in nearly any place in the world. However, it has not always been so, and in actuality, the history of kendo outside Japan is just a handful of decades. We all have much to be thankful for; thankful for the work and dedication of individuals and clubs that have forged the way for us all. This year, the Mumeishi Dojo family, led by their shihan Terry Holt, observed their 40th anniversary. Kendo World and the kendo community offer congratulations and thanks for their contribution to the spread of kendo internationally.

In the beginning, most of the start-up kendo club’s members came from a judo background, from two local London clubs, the British Judo Counsel, and Nenriki Dojo in Central London, of which R.A. Lidstone was a member. He would become one of the eventual founders of the British Kendo Association (BKA). There was a desire in the kendo community for another club in the West London area. Under the guidance of O. Fujii-sensei, the Mumeishi Club started practicing in Hayes, Middlesex. The club eventually moved to a better location in Hesston, Hounslow.

It was at the time of the club’s change to Hesston that Terry Holt was asked to become the official teacher to the club. He has continued in that position for the most of the club’s 40-year history, increasing in skill and experience to this day. Holt-sensei is now kendo Kyōshi 7-dan. Along with his ascension, the many members of the club have risen to senior roles in the BKA and in kendo leadership around the world.

The club eventually moved to Cranford Community College, Mumeishi’s home now for over 36 years. This dojo may be one of the most well known dojo in the world, as it also serves as the venue for the Mumeishi 3’s International Kendo Clubs Championship. This famous tournament has been run continuously for 37 years.

Kendoka from around the world attend the tournament. The Mumeishi tournament was the first in Europe to include a ladies championship and one of the first to hold a children’s championship. These two events are now a regular part of the championship along with the original 3-man team event. The 3-man team championship requires each team to include one kyū grade member in the team. This requirement has enabled emerging and small clubs to send teams to contest in a more even playing field, and in doing so, has served to encourage greater participation by all.  In recent years over 350 kenshi have been taking part in the three-event program and the tournament is only expected to grow in popularity in the coming years.

Over the years some of the senior members have left the U.K. to live in different countries. Tony Crawford emigrated to New Zealand and started Mumeishi Dojo New Zealand, becoming instrumental in the formation of the New Zealand Kendo Federation. Brent Gazzaniga moved on to Australia and opened Mumeishi Dojo Melbourne. Mumeishi Dojo Tel-Aviv, was started by Marco Edry. With the continuing activities of many Mumeishi family members, we should expect more developments in the future.

For the club’s 40th year anniversary this year, we all felt it fitting to have a celebration. Upon considering the many people who have been significant to the Mumeishi Dojo, we realized that many members were in Japan, so two parties would be necessary.

The first 40-year celebration was held on September 27 with a gōdō-keiko at Mumeishi Dojo in the main hall, with a party afterwards at the home of Holt-sensei. It was a great day, current and former members attended from around Europe and overseas. On this occasion Holt-sensei was presented with an engraved glass bowl celebrating this great event.

The next 40th celebration was held in Tokyo on November 22, with the gōdō-keiko conducted at the Shinjuku Sports Center. Tremendous help was provided by Mrs. Hiroko Hayashi and all the members of the Shinjuku group. Around 100 people participated in this celebration practice, former members, friends and many kendo sensei with whom Holt-sensei has been friends with for many years along the way, including Chiba Hitoshi Hanshi, Masago Takeshi Hanshi, and Takeuchi Jun.

The gōdō-geiko conducted in Japan was held at the Shinjuku Sports Center. Over 100 people attended.
The gōdō-geiko conducted in Japan was held at the Shinjuku Sports Center. Over 100 people attended.

A huge party followed the keiko. The entire program was organized by Mr. Hirai, one of the longest term Japanese members at Mumeishi who had just returned to Japan. For this huge task, he received the support of former member Mr. Tsuchihara, and Emiko Yoshikawa who is the Mumeishi Kendo Clubs children’s teacher.

Old friend and confidant, Takeuchi Jun-sensei, former Managing Director of the International Kendo Federation (FIK) gave the opening speech thanking Holt-sensei for all he had done over the years to promote kendo worldwide, and for the 40 years guiding Mumeishi Kendo, London, Melbourne, and Tel-Aviv.

One of Holt-sensei’s oldest Japanese kendo friends, Chiba-sensei, made a speech explaining how they first met at the World Kendo Champions in Los Angeles, 1973, when they were both representing their countries, and how their paths have continued to cross over the years. Then, on behalf of all the old boys and gals, he made a commemorative gift presentation to Holt-sensei.

Coincidently, Holt-sensei enjoys his 70th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary this year. We all offer our best wishes and look forward to the Mumeishi Dojo 50th anniversary, and Holt-sensei and the club’s continuing contribution to kendo.

The motto of Mumeishi Dojo:
開かれた心  学ぶ心  友を思う心

Kendo World gratefully thanks Terry Holt-sensei and the Mumeishi Dojo, London, for providing the historical data and photographs.