Hawaii Kendo Federation History

September 13, 1936
Waipahu Shinbukan
In honor of Sensei Katsumi Suzuki
(Photo by N. Murakoshi - courtesty of Hawaii's Plantation Village)

A Brief History of Kendo in Hawaiĺi


The first government-contract immigrants to Hawaiĺi from Japan arrived in 1868, the first year of Meiji Era right after the end of Tokugawa Sh˘gun's reign. They brought with them the art of Kend˘ and Sum˘ to the islands. The Kendoists at the time were actual Samurai or students of Samurai teachers, so their technique was more of thrusting and cutting with a real Japanese sword, Katana. On February 11, 1885, the immigrants were reported to have demonstrated these arts for King David KalÔkaua. A year after the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, a Kendo Taikai was reported to be held on Oĺahu.


Mr. Hanzaemon Furuyama came to Hawai'i in 1915 as an official Kendo teacher for the immigrants. Kend˘ became part of the requisite grade school curriculum in Japan in 1911 to help children develop physically and morally. In Hawaiĺi, early in the twentieth century, legendary teachers like Mr. Yonematsu Sugiura and Mr. Shűji Mikami united the Kendoists into Hawaiĺi K˘bu Kai. Mr. Sasabur˘ Takano, who is considered a father of modern Kendo, visited Hawaii during this period. By 1940, when the Hawaiĺi branch of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (the organization of Kendoists in Japan) opened, Kendo was taught at the many Japanese schools and D˘j˘ throughout the State. There were some 3,500 participants at a Taikai of that time.


Kendo was banned in Hawaiĺi in1941 at the onset of World War II, but Mikami D˘j˘ re-opened in Kapahulu soon after the war in Spetember of1945. Many of today's senior Sensei remember the rigorous Keiko at this small D˘j˘ on Martha Street. The Hawaiĺi Bud˘ Ky˘kai was established in 1947 (first president, Mr. Shinichi Sugitaya), five years ahead of the All Japan Kend˘ Federation (AJKF). It was renamed Hawai'i Kend˘ Federation (HKF) in 1955 with Mr. Ietoshi Takahashi as its first President, then became an affiliate of AJKF in 1959. Mr. Chűichi Furuyama, Mr. Shigeo Yoshinaga, Mr. Akeji Kozaki, Mr. Takao Hedani, Dr. Noboru Akagi, Mr. Iwao Sat˘, and Mr. Arnold Fukutomi are past Presidents of HKF. Mr. Terushi Ueno now serves as the President with about 400 registered members practicing Kend˘ and Iaid˘ at various D˘j˘ on the islands of Oĺahu, Hawaiĺi, Kauaĺi and Maui


The International Kend˘ Federation (IKF) was organized in 1970. HKF became independent of AJKF in 1972, then became an affiliate organization of IKF in 1988. Every three years since 1970, the World Kend˘ Championships are held where Kendoists from all over the world gather to demonstrate their skills. The Hawaiĺi team had been awarded third place in 1973 (San Francisco) and again in 1979 (Sapporo).


We had the good fortune to have many prominent teachers from Japan visit us. Some of the famous high ranking teachers include Mr. Yűji ďasa (Hanshi 10th Dan), Mr. Takashi Ozawa (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Kiyoshi Horiuchi (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Tsukasa Kojima (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Yasoji Nakano (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Sabur˘ Abe (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Kiyoshi Nakakura (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Suekichi Nagashima (Hanshi 9th Dan), Mr. Kazuo Ohya, Mr. Kakuji Ichikawa, and Mr. Toshio Watanabe. Mr. Hiroshi Onuma and Mr. Takeshi Nakamura stopped here on their way back to Japan from the Second World Kend˘ Championships in 1973. More recently, Mr. Sabur˘ Imai (Ibaraki), Mr. Haruo Nozawa (Saitama), Mr. Taizan Shimano (Osaka), Mr. Hikoto Aoki (Oita), Mr. Shir˘ Konishi (Tokyo), Mr. Masashi Chiba (Tokyo), Mr. Takeshi Kudou (Tokyo), Mr. K˘tar˘ ďshima (Tokyo) and others have given us valuable advises and Keiko. Mr. Tadashi Fujita (Iaido Hanshi 8th Dan, Tokyo) brought a group of teachers in April of 1998 to conduct the first Iaid˘ Dan Examination here.


Mr. Shintar˘ ďnuma (Tokyo), Mr. Kazuo Kat˘ (Yamanashi), Mr. Kichibei Tsuchida (Hiroshima), and Mr. Kazuyoshi Inoue (Fukuoka) are some of the regular visitors to Hawaiĺi.


Acknowledgements: Much of the information in this narrative came from Dr. Patrick Lineberger's account of "The Arrival of Kendo to Hawaii" which appeared in the HKF 40th Anniversary Program (August 27, 1995). Other information were obtained from Dr. Jinichi Tokeshi's "Aiea Taiheiji Kendo Manual" (1995), an article in Kendo Nippon (Ski Journal, February, 1981, p.140), and through personal communications with senior Sensei. (Updated June 2005: DYT)