ANU Kendo Club


ANU Kendo Club History 1978-2003




Dr. Masayuki Miyasaka, Mr Fritz Güldner, Mr Paul Harrison.


This document highlights the activities of the ANUKC and its members from its inception in 1978 until 2003. It is by no means complete and although a number of people have been referred to, it must be said that the club has benefited greatly by the significant contributions of past and present members, which not all can be referred to in these pages.
Events prior to 1982 have been taken from a previously started history that was put together by Mr Chris Denton. Events after this date have been drawn from articles within “The Tenagui Wrag”, information gathered from former members and my (some what sketchy) memory. Events from 2004 onwards can be viewed at
References to Australian National University Kendo Club include ANUKC and “the club”.
This document is a “work in progress” and I welcome any contributions to help make it more complete.

Joachim Semmler

Instructor(s) – ANUKC

1978 – 1981 Dr Masayuki Miyasaka
1981 Dr Masayuki Miyasaka Mr Kazu Shinozuka (1981)
1982 – 1983 Mr James Fennessy Mr Chris Denton
1984 Mr Chris Denton Mr Alan Geier
1985 Mr James Fennessy Mr Chris Denton
1986 – 1988 Ms Maria Liondis
1989 – 1991 Mr Stillianos Polochroniadis
1991 – 1996 Mr Joachim Semmler Mr Michael McIntyre
1997 – 1998 Mr Michael McIntyre Mr Cameron Le Maitre
1998 – 2000 Mr Cameron Le Maitre
2000 – Present Mr Joachim Semmler Mr Philip Baker (~2000-2013)

Significant Achievements Dateline – ANUKC

1978 ANU Kendo Club Formed (see Kendo Club advertising poster, 1978, featuring Dr. Masayuki Miyasaki (L) and Stephen Lawley (R)
Early club members: Fritz Güldner, Paul Harrison. Mike Smith (c 1981), Barry Cundy, Kazu Shinozuka, and ‘Yoshi’. (see photo prepared by Dr Masayuki Miyasaka)
1979 Dr Masayuki Miyasaka awarded an ANU BLUE
Club photo, taken not long after the club started.
Club photo, taken in Sydney (Willoughby dojo?
– front row; left to right; Kazu Shinozuka, Dr Masayuki Miyasaka, Yoshi;
back row; Barry Cundy, Fritz Güldner, Mike Smith).
1980 Shizawa Sensei (7 Dan) visits ANUKC for 1 month
Visit by Baba-sensei (8 Dan) and Sato-sensei (7 Dan)
Club members included Dr Masayuki Miyasaka, Peter Atkinson Mark Woolston, Frank Crone, Allan Geier, Brett Cormick, and others.
Canberra Times clipping ‘Inexperienced ACT team fares well‘ 10 April 1980.
1981 Visit by Japan-Australia Kendo Goodwill Mission
International Kendo Championships held in Sydney. Miyasaka
won the Individual Championship after defeating a couple of Nittai-dai squad members and the then Australian Champion, Stephen Lawley (see photo prepared by Miyasaka Sensei, where he is pictured on the left, with Stephen Lawley on the right)
Dr Masayuki Miyasaka returns to Japan.
Club photo (taken somewhere in NSW) Front row; left to right; Alan Geier, myself, Kazu, unknown. Back row; unknown, Mark Woolston, Chris Denton, Frank Crome.
1982 Mr James Fennessy – 1st Individuals AKC’s
Mr Alan Geier – 1 Dan
Club photo: (taken in Canberra, date unknown), when Mr. Isamu Sato (front row, second from the left) was visiting the Club (Dr. Miyasaka is first from the left). Mr. Sato became the Secretary General of the International Kendo Federation later. Ron Bennett is 6th from the left in the back row.
Group photo: (taken in Canberra) a group photo with Ron Bennett’s Kendo tour bus ‘Hiroko’s Express’. Ted Rixon is second from teh let in the back row, Ron Bennett is 6th from teh left in the Australian tracksuit. Dr Miyasaka is second from the left in the front row.
1984 Mr James Fennessy – 4 Dan
First “Tenegui Rag” newsletter
ANUKC hosts 9th AKC
1985 Mr James Fennessy  & Mr Chris Denton selected for Australian Team at 9th WKC’s
1986 Mr Joachim Semmler – 2nd Kyu Individuals AKC
ANUKC hosts 11th AKC
1987 Nakakura Sensei (9thDan Hanshi) and Nakamura Sensei (8 Dan Hanshi) visit ANUKC
Ms Maria Liondis –  3 Dan
Mr Stilts –  3 Dan
Mr Joachim Semmler – 2 Dan
1988 Ms Maria Liondis –  1st Women’s Individuals AKC
Mr Phil Baker – 1st Women’s Individuals AKC
ACT Team – 1st Kata Competition AKC
1989 Mr Chris Graham – 1 Dan
Mr Edward Gesini – 2 Dan
Mr Michael Barlow – 1 Dan
Mr Joachim Semmler – 3 Dan
1993 Mr Edward Gesini – 3 Dan
Mr Michael Barlow – 2 Dan
Mr Philip Baker – 2 Dan
Mr Greg Wyncol – 1 Dan
Ms Lisa O’Connor – 1 Dan
ANUKC – 2nd Kyu Team AKC
ANUKC 15th anniversary Taikai & visit by Dr Miyasaka
Joachim Semmler receives the ANUSRA Inaugural Peter McCullagh Achievement Award
1994 Mr Michael McIntyre selected for Australian Squad – 9th WKC
Ms Maryanne Whybrow – 2nd Women’s Individuals AKC
Dr Shichiro Suzuki (7th Dan) Fukashima Prefecture Visits ANUKC
1995 ANUKC hosted the Australian Iado Championships
ANUKC hosts 20th AKC
1996 Mr Joachim Semmler – 4 Dan
Mr Philip Baker – 3 Dan
Mr Alan Spencer – 2 Dan
Ms Maryanne Wybrow – 2 Dan
Ni-Tai-Dai delegation lead by Shizawa Sensei visits ANUKC
1997 Mr Philip Baker Selected for Australia Team – 10th WKC
Ms Jenny Hawksworth Selected for Australia Team – 10th WKC
Sharyn Wragg commences kendo with ANUKC, after a year with Melbourne University Club and prior to that, a year at the Newcastle University Club.
2000 ANUKC hosts 25th AKC
Ms Melanie Smith selected for Australian Team – 11th WKC
Ni-Tai-Dai delegation lead by Shizawa Sensei visits ANUKC
2001 Maryanne Wybrow – 2nd Women’s Individuals NSWKC
David Cunningham – Fighting Spirit Award NSWKC
Ms Katie Swann – 2nd Women’s Individual
ANUKC – 2nd Open Teams NSWKC (Founders Cup)
Mr Joachim Semmler – 5 Dan
Mr Martino Ellero – 1 Dan
2002 Mr David Cunningham – 3rd Kyu Individuals AKC
Ms Shizuka Kouda – 1st Individuals NSWKC
ANUKC Kyu Team – 1st Founders Cup
ANUKC Dan Team – 2nd Dan Han Moo Do Kwan Kum Do Champ’s
Ms Shizuka Kouda – 1st Women’s Individuals Dae Han Moo Do Kwan Kum Do Champ’s
ANUKC “A” – 3rd place Mumeishi 3’s tournament
Ms Shizuka Kouda – 1st Individuals NSWKC
Ms Sharyn Wragg – 3rd Women’s Individuals NSWKC
ANUKC – 2nd Women’s Teams NSWKC
ANUKC – 2nd Kyu Teams NSWKC
Mr Martino Ellero – 2 Dan
Mr Greg Wyncoll – 3 Dan
2003 Ms Sharyn Wragg selected for Australian Team Reserve – 9th WKC

The ANU Kendo Club was formed in 1978 by Dr Masayuki Miyasaka, Mr Fritz Guldner and Mr Paul Harrison and has been affiliated with the Australian National University Sports Union since. Approximately 15 members joined the club in that first year. However as the club was new with no financial assistance, possessed only 1 set of bogu and just a few shinai (bought by a club member) membership steadily decreased. In November 1978 the club received is first grant from the ANUSU to purchase 2 additional bogu and shinai.

(NB: please see the table above for identification, documentation, and larger version of the photographs shown inline.)

In March 1979 the club was visited by members of the Sydney Kendo club for a training weekend. This was the first of many visits by NSWKA club members that supported the development of the ANUKC. Members visited Melbourne and Sydney Kendo Clubs for training weekends.

Dr Miyasaka was awarded an ANU BLUE in 1980 for outstanding achievement in Kendo displayed at the Australian Kendo Championships. Since then two additional ANU student members have received recognition of their successes: Ms Yoko Nemoto (1999) and Ms Rebecca Marshall (2007).
Although membership had increased steadily since 1979, with the return of Dr Miyasaka to Japan in 1981, there were no qualified Dan-grade instructors in the club and as a result membership decreased considerably. The club only continued due to the efforts Mr Chris Denton and Mr Alan Geier. Fortunately Mr James Fennessy, who had won the Australian Kendo Championships the previous year and relocated to Canberra for studies, joined the club in 1982.

James had a profound influence on the ANUKC and his approach to physically demanding trainings remains with the club to this day. He went on to win two more Australian titles and establish Kendo clubs in Hobart and Newcastle. James would also be one to first and youngest westerners to achieve the rank of 7th Dan in Kendo.

Being geographically located between Melbourne and Sydney proved to be extremely beneficial for the club, particularly in the developing years. Kendo leaders such as Sensei Nagae, Mr Rex Lawley, Mr Ron Bennett and Mr John Butler, provided much needed support through training weekends and competitions that involved ANUKC members. One of the more memorable moments was at one of Australian Kendo Championships held in Willoughby.

We were introduced to Kirikaeshi by Mr Rex Lawley and Mr Stillianos Polochroniadis (Stilts) during this event. Stilts looked like he’d come off second best after a run in with the local biker gang, sporting a bandage covering his right eye. Together with his bushy beard and long hair gave him a fearsome appearance. Rex reassured us that Kendo was indeed a very safe pastime, but his slight smile wasn’t really convincing.

A good-cop/bad cop routine appeared to have been developed between John Butler, Rex Lawley Ron Bennett where John and Rex would invite the keen junior grades to sit and relax near the competition area and Ron would rouse on us and insist we all sat upright in seiza for the matches – which everyone hastily did after a quick blast from Ron. Like James, Ron would become, and still is, a strong influence on the ANUKC’s development.

In those days there was only one real sensei overseeing things and that was Nagae sensei. You could tell not because he was Japanese, but by the way everyone hung off every bit of valuable information he passed on. Nagae Sensei’s visits to ACT always attracted a large gathering of kendo players. His ability to work a player to the edge of their limitations, and then demand just that little bit more become notorious – “you’ve just been Nagae-ed” was a favorite expression the Victorians would say; whist were trying desperately to keep our lunch from coming back on us.

In November 1982 the club hosted the first National Kendo Seminar with over 40 members attending. Although seminars involving numerous clubs had been held previously, this one was regarded a National seminar as it included members from the Brisbane Kendo club.

Since then ANUKC has hosted many training seminars, the most recent involving the Australian National Squad members. One of the more memorable seminars was over the Australia Day long weekend in 1985, as a preparation weekend for those competing at the World Kendo Championships in Paris.  As it was an open invitation, approximately 70 AKR members attended to support and train with the Australian Team members. Those taking up the invite quickly realized that this was big a mistake, particularly after the 3rd lap of the sports oval in Do and Tare with shinai. Nagae Sensei was determined to toughen up the Australian Team Members for the rigors of Paris, and the best way was with kakari-geiko.

The Kakari-geiko sessions became infamous as 35 pairs lined up to perform the deed; one side attacking only, the other received only, which meant those on either end of the lineup to do 35 sets in a row.

Two ANUKC members were chosen to attend the world Championships that year:  Mr James Fennessy & Mr Chris Denton. Since 1985 a member of the ANUKC would be part of each Australian Campaign to the WKC’s until 2004.

By this stage beginner and club numbers had steadily increased. One year a particularly large group of beginner students started and equipment, particular Shinai were always scarce. Garden stakes that had been left by the grounds keeper in the sports hall store room were employed in their place. Unfortunately this solution didn’t last too long due to their quick destruction, and the splinters left in our hands.

The “Tenagui Rag”, the ANUKC newsletter was born with Maria Liondis as Editor. In the years to follow this paper was to become the conduit for communication between the Australian Kendo Clubs. Contributions were made from all over Australian and New Zealand.

March 1984 saw the club hosted the 9th Australian Kendo Championships with over 70 competitors attending from NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and ACT.  James had returned to Japan for his studies, and to (successfully) try for his 4th Dan we were later to discover. Chris and Alan had the task of organizing the event. This was to be the first use of our Mon (club symbol/logo) the Wattle; it has remained our Mon since then and changed only slightly.

In August 1986 an inter-university competition was held in Wollongong between ANU, Wollongong University and Newcastle University. The ANU team was successful in winning this first competition. It event progressed until it became an official intervarsity competition in 1996 known as the Australian University Kendo Championships, which continues to this day.

In March 1987 the first beginner’s course commenced at the club as part of the recreation program offered by the ANUSRA. Initial participants were 12 with 6 finishing the course. The course has become a bit of an institution at the club and has attracted an average intake of 30 – 40 participants each semester. Only a few ever go on to take up Kendo seriously and with the transient population of a University, it is always difficult to retain members for any length of time.

This year also saw the club honored by a visit from two high profile Japanese sensei: Nakakura Sensei (9th Dan Hanshi) and Nagashima Sensei (8th Dan Hanshi) for two days prior to the 12th Australian Kendo Championships. To put things in perspective, this was like Sir Donald Bradman and Ian Chapel stopping in at the Nara Cricket Club. We all used to wear light-weight hakamas in those days, and the material didn’t require folding. Imagine our surprise when Ron Bennett fronts us and say “guys, fold the sensei’s gi will you” – Stilts sweated blood that afternoon.

Nakakura Sensei made the front page of the Canberra Times. The club then provided transport for the sensei to Cowra with Stilts’ “limousine” whilst the rest of the members traveled to Cowra in a cheep rental van. For an instant the world came to a sudden stop as the tailgate of the rental van flew open and distributed sensei’s and our Shinai bags across the Hume Highway. Club members literally risked life and limb retrieving the items whilst waving down the oncoming traffic. Obviously we didn’t rent from that company again.

A second Kendo club was established in 1989 at Belconnen, the north-western region of the city. As a result the first ACT Teams competition between clubs was conducted in December.
Canberra’s geographic location permitted events such as shinpan seminars, and senior coaching clinic’s to be conducted and well supported by interstate instructors. Two shinpan seminars were held in 1990 and 1991 at Camp Birragai, the latter resulting in the destruction of their newly installed floor that was obviously not designed to be a dojo floor. Nagae Sensei was the major contributor to these events and provided valuable guidance. A senior coaching seminar was also conducted in by Nagae sensei 1992, who managed to attract the support of professional senior coaches from the Australian Coaching Council. This event involved almost all eastern state Kendo players ranked 2nd Dan and above at that time.

The club’s location also allowed members to travel to interstate events on a regular basis. During these times a well worn circuit between Melbourne (Oktoberfest), Brisbane (Brisbane Bash) and eventually Newcastle had been established.

The Sydney Kendo club’s connections with Japan, provided opportunities to train with senior visiting kendo players, and particularly the Ni-Tai-Dai Sports University and Shizawa Sensei. Ron Bennett Sensei was always heavily involved with these visits and always tried to find a unique way of imparting some of the Australian larrikin on the visitors. One of the more memorable moments was when a group from the Ni-Tai-Dai that included teacher’s family members as well as students were taken camping at the Kangaroo Valley Community centre. Ron had acquired a couple of gorilla suites and not so eager volunteers to play the part of escaped circus animals – literally dancing gorillas in the mist.

In July 1991 members of the club traveled to Melbourne to participate in the opening of the Melbourne Budokai. The event was supported by a delegation of 19 sensei that included Nakakura Sensei (9thDan Hanshi) and Shizawa Sensei (7th Dan Kyoshi). The delegation traveled to Canberra for a two day visit that included trainings at the ANUKC, and Belconnen Kendo Dojo, and morning tea with his Excellency Mr Hiroumo Fukada, Ambassador from Japan.

1991 saw the departure of long time members – Maria Liondis, Michael Barlow, Stillianos Polochroniadis and Helen Rigney. As a result Joachim Semmler consolidated the Belconnen Kendo Dojo with the ANUKC. Three senior members still train at ANUKC: Mr Greg Wyncol, Mr Michael McIntyre and Mr Tony Pollock.

Mr Katsumi Kuramochi (6th Dan) visited the club for 6 weeks in October and November 1992. Attendance at trainings were consistently at 20 people over this period – which was significant for the club at that time.

In 1994 Michael McIntyre was selected for the Australian squad at the 9th World Kendo Championships held in Paris, France.

ANUKC hosted the Australian Iado Championships in January 1995. A delegation of 3 Japanese Sensei Haga Sensei, 8th Dan Hanshi, Hoshino Sensei 8th Dan and Kodono Sensei Kyoshi 6th Dan supported the event and undertook a Dan Grading. Hoshino Sensei was a prisoner of was held by Australian troops in Papua New Guinea. Years latter he would write a book about his experiences and him befriending the (then) camp Commander, whom he managed to track down as living in Deniliquin, NSW.  Hoshino Sensei’s traveled to Deniliquin from Canberra to visit his long time friend.
In April ANUKC hosted the 20th Australian Kendo Championships. Accommodation for this event was arranged through Bruce Hall on the ANU Campus. James Fennessy would win the Australian championships at this event beating a very fast, young and up-coming Brett Smith for the last time.
In October 1996 ANUKC also hosted the first Australian Team selection weekend for the 10th World Kendo Championship to be held in Kyoto, Japan next year. This was the inaugural such event where approximately 40 participants fought for one of 10 places on the Australian Squad. Three members from the ANUKC participated and Mr Philip Baker and Ms Jenny Hawksworth were selected to represent Australia in the Men’s and Women’s squads. The event was also supported by the visit of Nomasa Sensei (7th Dan Kyoshi) from the famous Mitsubishi Kendo Dojo, who taught us the value and consequences of a strong kamae. Many participants returned home with the new found knowledge together with a wealth of Kendo “love bites” to their necks.

In October 1997 ANUKC also hosted the first Australian Team selection weekend for the 10th World Kendo Championship to be held in Kyoto, Japan next year. This was the inaugural such event where approximately 40 participants fought for one of 10 places on the Australian Squad. Three members from the ANUKC participated and Mr Philip Baker and Ms Jenny Hawksworth were selected to represent Australia in the Men’s and Women’s squads. The event was also supported by the visit of Nomasa Sensei (7th Dan Kyoshi) from the famous Mitsubishi Kendo Dojo, who taught us the value and consequences of a strong kamae. Many participants returned home with the new found knowledge together with a wealth of Kendo “love bites” to their necks.

One of the highlights for 1997 was in September where four members traveled to Melbourne to participate in the Intervarsity Games, and the 8th University Kendo Championships. The games were well supported by the then Kenneth Government and participation numbers rivaled the Commonwealth Games. Kendo specific included 52 competitors from 11 University’s.
Joachim Semmler & Alan Spencer traveled to Grafton (Copmanhurst) in October that year to participate in the inaugural Founders Cup training seminar and Taikai hosted by Sensei Ron Bennett. Again Ron was in his element introducing us to bush tucker, bush showers made from perforated spare irrigation pipes and bush entertainment including bokken manufacture.

Throughout 1998 and 1999 ANUKC members continued to support events such as the Summer camp in Sommers, Victoria, the Founder’s Cup in Picton, Winter training at the Kenshikan, and numerous events in Sydney, ranging from general training and grading, to the Nittaidai visit, the Women’s weekend seminar, and the NSW Championships

A second Kendo club was established in Queanbeyan, NSW by Cameron Le Mert and for some 6 months a number of members were able to train 4 x per week. The Kumdo dojo joined the ACT Kendo Renmei and was supported by ANUKC members.
The ACT hosted the 20th Australian Kendo Championships in April 2000. Participants benefited enormously from the instruction of the IKF delegation:

  1. Mr M. Matsunaga     – Kendo Hanshi  8 Dan
  2. Mr    Komeya             – Kendo Kyoshi 7Dan, Iaido 7 Dan, Jodo 5 Dan
  3. Mr J. Takeuchi          – Secretary-General of the IKF

The event was supported by a visit from the Japanese Ambassador, His Excellency Masaji Takahashi and Ms Takahashi, and event volunteers Mr Masakasu Mitsunari and Mr Nobuhiro Kikuchi, also employed at the Embassy. Ms Katie Swann also provided much valued translating and sensei wrangling skills.

This was to be the beginning of a great period of support from, and developing friendships with, associates of the Japanese Embassy. Training with these gentlemen together with Mr Kauro Shiakawa, Mr Shun Ono and Ms Shizuka Koda greatly benefit the senior members of the club.
In November Joe Semmler was invited to shinpan at the Poneke Challenge hosted by the Wellington Kendo Club, NZ. This month also saw Mr Martino Ellero and Sharyn Wragg participate in the Australian Team Squad trainings that have become part of the Kendo landscape. These very high-level trainings have pushed the boundaries of Australia’s Kendo standards, producing flow-on effects to dojos through the participants.

An ACT Open Competition was reintroduced in 2001 on the long weekend in June, introducing some new individual competition formats by splitting the Open competition into 1 Dan, 2 Dan, 3 Dan and 4+ Dan categories. This event continued until 2004.

In May 2002 a delegation of 7 visiting sensei who travelled to Australia as part of the Founders Cup competition visited the club: Tajima Sensei 6 Dan, Sukurai Sensei 7 Dan, Hasegawa Sensei 7 Dan, Iwatsubo Sensei 6 Dan, Mrs Maki Sensei 5 Dan, Ms Takahashi 3 Dan, Ms Takeishi 2 Dan.

2002-05-07 ANUKC Canberra