18 September 2014

A news article on Kendo in Singapore (dated 1971)

(From http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Page/beritaharian19711017-1.1.8.aspx)
This article was published in the Berita Harian in 1971, one year before the Singapore Kendo Club was officially formed in 1972. The article and translation was kindly provided by Dr Mohamed Effendy.

Berita Harian, 17 October 1971, Page 8
KENDO: Seni pertahan diri Jepun ala 'Samurai'

Kendo: A Martial Art of Japan ala "Samurai" by Sa'adon Ismail

The Japanese are encouraged to have the spirit of Bushido.

Any type of martial is good to learn and practice. Whether it be silat, Kuntao, Taekwando or karate, all of them are good exercises and self-defense arts.
However there is something special about Encik Hamid Ahmad, who works in the Cold Storage and also a part-timer with Radio Singapore. He has knowledge of Kendo.

Today he leads a small group around 10 people which includes an ASP (Assistant Superintendent) from the Police force who is also practicing Kendo. Encik Hamid is the only Singaporean who is an expert in the martial art which includes the use of the samurai sword.

This "Samurai" martial art is not well known by people in the Republic. That is why it has not many followers.

Encik Hamid learnt Kendo during the Japanese Occupation period when he studied in a Japanese school called "Koa Gagguin" near Serangoon Road.

The Spirit of Bushido

He was only 16 years old when he learnt it. According to Encik Hamid, it was one of the subjects taught in school," It is very much connected to the spirit of Bushido. It is similar to the fighting spirit of the Malays as seen in the "semangat" of Hang Tuah"

The Japanese are encouraged to have a similar spirit.

The "Koa Gagguin" or in Malay "Sekolah Timor" encourages the learning of Kendo as a part of the education system. At that time many Singaporeans learnt Kendo but only a few took it up seriously and Encik Hamid is among the few. He has also competed in Kendo competitions under the guidance of a "Gunzok" named Machida. Gunzok means an "assistant to the military"
"Even after this long, I still remember the art of Kendo and me and my friends are trying to resurrect/ establish the art"

According to Encik Hamid, the art of Kendo has 14 movements but each of these movements have specific meaning.

Encik Hamid notes that "Maybe Kendo is no different from our Malay silat today because many of the movements are very similar but the main difference with Kendo is how the sword is used which is very different.

How about our young Malays who want to learn Kendo? Well, it is not that difficult because Kendo and Silat are rather similar, according to Encik Hamid.

Fulfilling Conditions

Those who want to learn Kendo must abide by four obligations.
They must have a strong spirit or a "Yamato" spirit, have very good eyesight and good physical strength.
If these conditions are fulfilled and we train in Kendo, we can become good in it.

Kendo is among many ancient martial arts in Japan and not many in Japan know what Kendo is today.

Encik Hamid together with ASP Lim Kim Chee and company are working hard to form a Kendo club/association. They have weekly training sessions at the Singapore Police Academy at Thomson Road.

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