The History of Mumeishi Kendo Club: 1968-2002

The very first Dojo Files article appeared in Kendo World Vol.1.2 in 2002. It was about Mumeishi Kendo Club in London and was written by the late Terry Holt-sensei. In his memory, we are reprinting that article below.

The Dojo Files: 00001
The History of Mumeishi Kendo Club: 1968-2002
By Terry Holt, 7th dan

During the sixties, kendo in the UK was being practised in a small way at Judo clubs, and other dojos. Nenriki Dojo was the only kendo dojo in London, and it is here many of us started, mainly from judo backgrounds.

Some of us branched out and started up a new dojo in West London. Our first home was in Hayes Sports Centre, Hayes, Middlesex. Here our first sensei was Mr O Fujii 5th Dan. He was a very good sensei who helped us to get our armour and shinai, which were rare. We would soak our shinai in linseed oil and white spirit, to make them last, and armour was like gold dust.

Eventually things improved, our kendo got better, and our membership grew. As yet not named, 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 mon was drawn by another member, the Thinking Samurai, and the Bokuto Tsuba, representing training; both are still in use today.

Some of Mumeishi’s founder members, (L) O. Fujii, A. Frances, Sandra, D. Chambers, D. Tubb, T. Holt
Some of Mumeishi’s founder members, (L) O. Fujii, A. Frances, Sandra, D. Chambers, D. Tubb, T. Holt

The club moved to Heston School, Hounslow, and became a night school club. Mr Terry 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 to New Zealand and started Mumeishi NZ and the NZ Kendo Federation. In the early years Mr. Watanabe, a student from Japan, was also a great help and friend.

General practice at Heston School
General practice at Heston School

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. We were asked if we wanted to bring the club over from Heston to the new Cranford Community School. This was a dream come true, it had everything we needed, a good dojo, good floor, changing rooms, and a bar. We moved in the week it opened, and have been there for 26 years.

The Mumeishi 3’s International Kendo Clubs Championships, 1984 (L) O. Fujii, T. Holt, HIH Prince Naruhito, the late Sir Frank Bowden
The Mumeishi 3’s International Kendo Clubs Championships, 1984 (L) O. Fujii, T. Holt, HIH Prince Naruhito, the late Sir Frank Bowden

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 29 years ago, and gives all kendoka the chance to take part in a major kendo event.

Many members helped to build the club over the years, Brent Gazzaniga, who moved to Australia and became a national team member and manager, started Mumeishi Kendo Club Melbourne. For the last 3 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.

Our members span the world, sadly some have passed away and we have honoured them by naming three fighting spirit awards in their names, The Peter Cronin, Ernie Angel and Brian Kay awards.

This is the spirit of Mumeishi Kendo Club, through friendly rivalry and friendship we can learn. All are welcome at Mumeishi Kendo Club London and its other associated dojo’s around the world.

[Editor’s note: Out of date information about club membership numbers and membership prices were removed. Please check the Mumeishi Kendo Club homepage for details http://mumeishi.co.uk/kendo/]