End of the training year

This Saturday will be the last formal training for 2017, and I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the year that was and to wish all of you a happy, safe and enjoyable break until we reconvene on January 2.  

First to procedural matters. This Saturday, we will be holding a joint sword-arts training session where we can explore the commonalities between kendo, iaido and jodo. We will be training from 10 am–12 pm and sharing a light lunch to formalise “keiko yame” afterwards. Everyone who is currently practicing or is interested in these disciplines is most welcome to attend, and everyone is cordially invited to share lunch to mark keiko yame. Please let me know directly if you are intending to be there or respond to the Facebook event so that we can cater appropriately. 

Keiko Hajime will be from 5 pm Tuesday 2 January. We will start as we always do with a cleaning of the dojo and, most importantly, our training surfaces. We will then share a vignette from each of the disciplines participating to kick off the training year. The MEAC is scheduled for an industrial floor clean on Monday 8 January, so we will need to pack away our training surface on Thursday 4 January. I will be sending out reminders to everyone closer to that time. 

Second, I wanted to provide some closing comments for the year.  

As 2017 draws to a close, we have clocked up nine years as a formal organisation. When we founded the Club at the end of 2008, we primarily saw it as a vehicle to promote and practice Kendo with the intention of supporting the development of a University Games presence, and for me to teach some Jujutsu. It rapidly expanded to include many other disciplines as right from the start we generated significant member interest in exploring all types of martial arts, and at that time there were no University/Guild based Clubs to cater for that. While we have retreated from a high water mark of actively supporting 16 disciplines and activities, we continue to pursue our charter to support the teaching and practice of quality martial arts delivered by experienced and appropriately qualified instructors. 

This year has seen a consolidation of what we teach and some significant changes to those who are currently part of our community. We have seen familiar faces leaving Toowoomba for fresh adventures, some who have had to take breaks from the dojo due to a variety of personal reasons, and the late return of some old faces after extended absences. We have also been gifted with new members, particularly in Kendo, who have rapidly become indispensable in a very short period of time. To all of you, I hope that 2018 brings challenge and success in whichever fields you are pursuing. And to those that might find the tyranny of geography a tough ask to overcome with respect to regular training— remember that you will never be strangers; that you will always be welcome here when in town; and that I will look forward to opportunities in the new year to catch up either at seminars or training trips. 

With regard to more personal stories, I would Iike to make a few specific mentions:  Matt G gloriously embodied the notion of “burn out, not fade out” this year. As a last act of honour/madness this year, he successfully challenged for 5KYU in Jujutsu, on top of his successful challenges at 1KYU for both Kendo and Iaido 10 days before. After a particularly punishing year for him both physically and professionally, it was immensely satisfying to see him rise to the task on Thursday evening. I hope he can be as proud of his achievements as I am, satisfied in the knowledge of job well done and spurred on to keep improving over the coming years. 

Tracy Campbell has been an absolute bedrock for the Club this year. Tracy has shown amazing tenacity in just simply showing up and training, and for coordinating the regular cleaning of the MEAC. She had easily logged up the greatest number of training sessions throughout the year, and has been at the MEAC week in and week out to help provide as best an environment as we can manage in a shared facility. While the cleaning may often seem as a thankless task, I wanted to publicly say how appreciated her constancy has been. This has been in the face of some significant personal challenges she has had to deal with this year, and again, I cannot undersell how proud I have been to see her successes this year, including grading to 2KYU in Iaido. 

Eric Tavenner requires mention for his dogged determination to improve the processed of the Club. As a volunteer organisation, BBRD at times can feel like it is help together by good wishes and bluetac. We do well given the specialised interest that traditional, adult-focused, martial arts represents, but of course, we can always improve our processes. I look forward to building on the progress that we have made this year, especially as we are faced with some exciting potential opportunities for growth and change in the new year. 

Sian Carlyon has likewise has a challenging year personally, with unwellness, surgery and the passing of her mother unfortunately punctuating this year. In spite of this, she successfully graded to 1KYU in Iaido this year, and has an opportunity to potentially reach shodan in both Iaido and Kendo in the year ahead. Sian has always been a backstop for me personally, and I will look forward to her continued input and effort in the New Year. 

Kateena Martin requires mention for the enthusiasm with which she has thrown herself into the Club. She initially started in Kendo, but after leaping at the opportunity to come and participate at this year’s IBF Brisbane training day, she has again rapidly become in integral part of the Club. Kateena has seemingly developed a habit to launch into the unknown often without the support of other “newbies” to share the experience with, so as to at least soften the challenge. In doing so, she has certainly embodied the “give it a go” spirit that the Club was founded on, culminating in her double grading this year in Kendo to 5KYU. Along with Minty Ma— whose presence in Kendo I have truly appreciated; and Tracy, Kateena represents all I would hope for members of the Club, positivity, curiosity, tenacity and reliability. Quite well deserving of the “A-team” moniker that Sara has coined for the trio. 

And to all others in the Club, I would like to wish you a wonderful year ahead. For many of you, this year has met out both significant challenge along with the successes you have experienced. Please know that as a community, we are all here to provide what support we can to lessen the former, and make the latter more possible. I have found great inspiration in all of your journeys this year, and hope to continue my own pursuit of challenge knowing that everyone’s individual success is indeed of collective benefit in a Club such as ours. 

2018 does hold some uncertainty for the Club. With the rise in rental cost at the MEAC there will inevitably have to be changes to the way we train compared with how we have done so over the past five years. Whether this is a change to times we train or venue, we will continue to work towards providing the best opportunity for instruction in high quality traditional martial arts and related activities. But as always, we shall forge ahead and be true to the core values we state in our dojo kun: Integrity • Perseverance • Compassion. 

So finally, whatever you are doing over the next twelve months, I sincerely wish you a rousing cry of “ganbatte!” and I will certainly look forward to training opportunities with you in the New Year, either in our regular classes or when we get to catch up at State and National events!