Given that we have just had our Annual General Meeting, I though that is would be worthwhile to put the President’s report out through the Budo Blog so that members who were not able to attend on Saturday could have access to it. Having been returned to the position of President at that meeting I will also provide some comments on where I would like for our Club to be in twelve months hence.
2017 has been another successful if at times challenging year for the Club. There are several very positive headlines to remember in the year that was, especially in terms of membership, composition and community engagement.
To start, I would like to note the inclusion of Taiko and Olympic Fencing to the group of disciplines and activities that the Club supports. Both have been a tremendous input of activity and membership for the Club, and have opened a number of avenues for greater community engagement. In particular, the Taiko group has seen the building of links with both the Toowoomba Regional Council and the community from Toowoomba’s Japanese sister city of Takatsuki. With the dedicated efforts from Tomoko Sneath, Michelle Wiersma, and Sian Carlyon, the numbers of practitioners have grown over the year and we have been the beneficiaries of a very generous donation of taiko drums from the Takatsuki community. And while the inclusion of Fencing has come late in the Club’s year, I am very pleased to note how well they have integrated with the Club and look forward to Jamie Webb and Michael Stockwell building on that in the coming year.
Furthermore, the Club has continued its tradition of active community participation and engagement, where we have continued to support events such as USQ Market Days, especially around Orientation Weeks, The Toowoomba Languages and Cultures Festival, USQ Harmony Day celebrations, and special public events such as the Jodo public demonstration provided by Glen Henry sensei, and the Kendo “Have a Go” day hosted at the end of February this year. Such events require significant support from members, not the least fronting up and demonstrating what we love doing to a broad audience, but to all of the organisation, packing, transporting and setting up necessary for these events.
Additionally, Club members have had significant amounts of success in their progress through the arts, especially at gradings. In particular, Matt G deserves special mention for not only successfully grading to ikkyu in both Kendo and Iaido, but also backing that up only days later with a successful grading to gokkyu in Jujutsu. This has set both him personally and Club up well for future expansion, which I will outline shortly. In addition, the Club successfully hosted Queensland’s very first successful regional Kyu grading, providing an opportunity for long-time kendo practitioners Sian Carlyon and Sean Thompson to kick start their grading progress after a very long time from when they last tested.
Seminars both hosted and attended this past year added important outside vision to what we do here in Toowoomba. As a small community of practitioners, it is critical that everyone has the opportunity to gain insight from interacting with other martial artists and especially other instructors. In particular, I would like to thank Tom Johnson, sensei, for his very generous frequent visits to help progress iaido in Toowoomba, Glen Henry, sensei, for his mentoring of Eric in SMR Jodo, John Isaacs, sensei for his generosity in letting Toowoomba-based kendoka train at the Kenshinkai in Brisbane, Kurt Graham sensei and Andrew Seyderhelm for their seminars at Easter last year, Jason Griffiths sensei and Don Ouellette sensei for their support throughout the year including sitting on grading panels and with Arnis, and to Peter Hills sensei for organising another enjoyable IBF training day at the end of August. We also participated at the Australian University Games, primarily in a support role for Kendo, though Jack Baker did have a valiant tilt at the Judo competition. We will look to build on this in 2018, as the Games will be held on the Gold Coast again this year.
It has been really pleasing to see the return to practice of long-absent friends this year, especially to Kendo. We have also seen new faces turn into indispensable members of the Club across a number of disciplines. This has resulted in a significant spreading of the administrative, teaching and organisational load over this year, something I am personally grateful of. This year has also seen the start of a sister dojo based in Gin Gin, and the possibility of BBRD North Queensland firing up in the next few months.
And finally to some vision of the year ahead. As many of you will know, at the start of this year I accepted a place to study Physiotherapy at CQ University Bundaberg. The course is a full time load of four years, the next two and a half of which will see me travelling weekly to Bundaberg and staying there for at least half of the week while semester is on. While anticipating that I can juggle my range of responsibilities for this year, it is unlikely that I will be able to do justice to the position of President next year when the load for my studies intensifies. As a result, I announced my intention at the AGM to see out this tenth year of the Club as President and look to hand over that responsibility next year. This will allow me to continue to provide guidance and input for the disciplines that I am instructing while being able to take a step back from the vital administrative and promotional work that keeps the Club ticking over.
Given that the 10th birthday for the Club is in November, I believe that it is an excellent time to organise a transition of the reigns so as to create some renewal for hopefully the next ten years of the Club. There are some significant things I would like for us to achieve in this year coming. First is to place us in a position this year to become an incorporated association. As a not-for-profit incorporated association, we will be able to access a wider range of funding and grant opportunities, and better meet the needs of our membership. Second, we will be looking to support the growing diaspora of BBRD members to set up satellite dojo, especially in the Bundaberg region (Ken Jin Kan) and Tully/Mission Beach/Townsville (the proposed BBRD NQ). Third, we will also continue to look for a location for a possible full time facility that can meet the needs of all the Club’s disciplines under one roof. And we will also look to continue our tradition of public engagement through special courses, open days, seminars, and public demonstrations.
So onwards and upwards for 2018, and as always, I will look forward to seeing you and training with you at the dojo!