Posts Tagged ‘Terry Holt’

THolt1On Saturday I attended the funeral and memorial service for for Holt sensei. I hope that you will indulge me in taking this opportunity to remember him.

In kendo we have the motto ko-ken-chi-ai which loosely translates to loving your fellow man through the application of the sword. To me this sums up Terry Holt sensei’s approach to life. Terry will be remembered as one of the founding fathers of British kendo and one of the first few to gain 7th dan, but above all it is his generosity and kindness to others that will stay in my mind.

Mumeishi dojo has always attracted visitors and temporary members from around the World. Most of them have stayed in touch with Holt sensei and with each other as part of an informal international old boys (and girls) association. Terry has inspired sister dojo in other countries and with Mumeishi dojo in Australia, Israel and Iran this probably ranks him somewhere near Henry Kissinger as a peacemaker.

Terry always took the view that kendo teaching is also learning and he worked side by side with his students, the last time I saw him was just before his illness when he was happily taking points from people in jigeiko while helping them improve their kendo. Although a stickler for correct kendo and etiquette Terry was always much happier to encourage rather than criticise and had the ability to make you feel good about yourself even if you had just failed a grading or lost a shiai.

Terry’s kindness did not stop in the dojo. The home that he shared with Gill and their family has always been a kendo open house. Visiting kenshi or their friends and relatives in need of a bed for the night or longer have always been welcome.

One of Terry’s driving passions was the Mumeishi 3’s Championship which is probably the biggest and certainly the friendliest private kendo competition in Europe. The 42nd annual event was held last November and even though Terry was in hospital at the time he managed to join us by Skype. I have always been impressed by the way that Terry had no sooner closed one year’s event before he was planning the next.

Terry was equally passionate about travel, particularly after he retired. In addition to his regular World tours of Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand he put massive effort into attending and organising seminars across Europe. I travelled regularly with him to Ireland, Brussels and Norway and have always been impressed by his promptness at airport check-ins, his liking for a pint of Guinness and his ability to make new friends.

Terry taught me a number of valuable lessons, not just about kendo but about life. He was testimony to the fact that life is for living, to the full, to the very end. He taught me about the value of friendship and that the principles of kendo go beyond the walls of the dojo.

I shall miss him.

*As a positive postscript I travelled from the funeral to the referee’s seminar in Brussels where two British kendo friends, John O’Sullivan and Yasuyuki Hiyama passed the seventh dan grading – a fitting tribute to Terry.

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001I was asked to write an introduction for the programme for next weekend’s 41st Mumeishi Threes competition. This must be the oldest privately hosted kendo taikai in Europe and I started to ponder the reasons for its continued success.

This event is for three person teams with a minimum of one kyu grade in the line-up. It not only gives more experienced kenshi a chance to demonstrate their skills, but by including teams with a mix of levels,  it emphasises the co-dependence of juniors and seniors that is central to kendo. It is an opportunity to strive to do our personal best while supporting our team mates. There are also Ladies’ and children’s individual competitions, with younger competitors judged on “hantei” to encourage their best kendo.

The Mumeishi Threes has continued to grow. Over the years it has attracted kenshi from across Europe, the USA and Japan, with over seventy teams competing in some more recent events. This year, at the time of writing, we have registrations from 60 teams, 61 ladies and 40 juniors.

Not content with one action packed day of kendo, an after match party on Saturday evening and an exhausting three hour keiko session that runs throughout Sunday morning completes a family friendly weekend and allows participants to meet old friends and make new ones.  In spite of current economic conditions and an increasingly crowded international kendo calendar, the Mumeishi Threes becomes more popular every year.

The “Threes” could not survive without an army of willing volunteers. Court teams, referees and sponsors are drawn from the club itself and its friends from around the world. Last year Sumi Masatake sensei made the trip from Japan to act as shinpan-cho for the 40th anniversary event.

Of course the one ingredient that guarantees the on-going success of the Mumeishi Threes is the untiring effort of Terry Holt sensei, who as soon as each year’s event finishes, promptly thinks about the next one.

I am sure that this year’s event will help brighten a dull November and serve as a celebration of all the hard work we put into our kendo.  For competitors and officials alike, there is an expectation that we should do our very best on the day. At the same time, we should not forget to enjoy ourselves and to make the most of being together for a very special weekend’s kendo.

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I seldom write trailers for coming kendo events, but think this one deserves a mention. Next Saturday will see the 40th Mumeishi  3’s Taikai. This must be the oldest club sponsored kendo competition in Europe and is probably a serious contender globally. It is not only long lived, but it is also a big event. This year we have registered 74 teams and an equally impressive number of individual competitors for ladies and children’s matches.

For those of you who are not familiar the event, the Mumeishi 3’s has a unique formula. It is a competition for teams of 3 people, two of whom should hold dan rank and one kyu grade. There are also a ladies and a children’s individual competition. The children’s matches are split by age and the youngest are judged on technique and fighting spirit by hantei gatchi. Overall the tone of the competition is one of fun and friendship and it attracts competitors from all over Europe and beyond. In the past we have also had teams from Japan, and the USA.

Day two is to my mind even more interesting. A 3 hour keiko session starts at 9.30 a.m. and people are free to come and go as they please. Those travelling home early can enjoy a practice before they leave and those that partied too enthusiastically after the taikai, can catch the tail end. This year Sumi Hanshi and two of our Japanese O.Bs, Hosokawa and Miyagawa sensei will be joining us, so with our friends from Europe we should have an 8th dan and at least 8 7th dans taking part. Not bad for a small West London club practice!

Whilst Mumeishi members contribute a great deal of effort each year, the event is driven by the energy and determination of Mumeishi’s shihan Terry Holt. Every year Terry starts the process to attract participants and raise money for the next year’s event while the last one is still fresh in everyone’s mind. On the day, he can be seen rushing around in several directions at once, keeping every detail under control.

As a long time Mumeishi member, the Mumeishi 3’s holds many memories for me. I have attended as a competitor, helper and referee. Although I have missed a few years during the times I lived outside the UK, I have been there for most of its history and have seen it grow year by year. This 40th anniversary is special and I am looking forward to catching up with lots of old friends and meeting some new ones. Congratulations Terry! Here’s to another 40 years.

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