Sei Tou Ken Yu Kai Canterbury Kendo Club

The name of the club "Sei Tou Ken Yu Kai" comes from the Kanji characters that made up the name of the high school which was attended by the club founder, Alex Bennett, on his original exchange trip Japan. Roughly translated the characters form an idiom about rice plants; when a rice plant is young it shoots up from the ground full of life, but as it gets older, it appears to bow down and becomes humble.

The Canterbury Kendo Club have trainings that cater for all levels and abilities. Trainings vary from philosophical kata sessions through to fast paced shiai (competition) practice. Outside of trainings we organise social activities like dinners and barbeques as well.

The Canterbury Kendo Club has always been actively involved in New Zealand Kendo and encourages its members to participate in NZKF events. This has resulted many successful competition campaigns. Despite the club's success at these events, competition has always been considered to be only a part of the Kendo experience, with a strong importance placed on kata, and reigi, and traditional aspects of Kendo.

Club history

The Sei Tou Ken YuKai Kendo Club was formed in 1988 by Alex Bennett and Karl Hitchcock. While on a Rotary exchange to Chiba, Japan, Alex attended a Japanese High School where he began Kendo and reached the grade of 1st Dan. Upon his return to Christchurch, he met Karl Hitchcock who had discovered Kendo through an interest in martial arts, and had been training by himself. Together they started one of New Zealand's first Kendo clubs, and the first club in the South Island. As the club grew, Alex travelled back and forth to Japan in order to learn more to teach to his students. Alex currently lives in Kyoto and holds the grade of 7th Dan in Kendo, 5th Dan in Iaido and 4th Dan in Naginata. He is the Editor-in-chief of the world's first and only Kendo magazine in English - "Kendo World". Alex eventually moved to Japan permanently, at which time Masahiro Imafuji took over the club. Masahiro helped strengthen the club with a level of Kendo training and experience which was rare in New Zealand Kendo at the time. Masahiro currently holds the rank of 6th Dan and lives in the USA where he continues to teach Kendo through his website kendo-guide.com.

As Masahiro's time in New Zealand came to an end, he left the running of the club in the hands of Alex's younger brother, Blake, who at the time was just 15 years old. Almost 20 years later, Blake remains the club leader, and holds the rank of 6th Dan in Kendo.

Karl has been continuously participating and devoting his time and skills to the club throughout its 30 year history. He still trains every week and is an integral part of the coaching and running of the club.

In 2008 Sei Tou Ken Yu Kai Kendo Club moved into a dojo on Lichfield Street, the same year in which the club celebrated it's 20th anniversary. Unfortunately the September 4th earthquake in 2010 damaged the building and the club trained at various Community Centres around Christchurch. This difficult time prompted Alex to get the club he started back on it's feet, and he bought a warehouse on Blenheim Road to be converted into a dojo. After a year with no fixed abode, the club entered a new era on October 2011, with the completion of a purpose built floor at the Blenheim Road dojo - the first dedicated Kendo dojo in the South Island.