By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana, according to the The Concept and Purpose of Kendo formulated by the All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.

But would you believe that the history of the martial art in Malaysia begins in 1971, when Datuk Abdullah Malim Baginda and Toshima Masao, a government officer from Japan who had come to Malaysia under the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer programme for the development of sports medicine.

Abdullah Malim, the then Youth Service director of Youth and Sports Ministry, said the discipline and hard work needed to not only found the Malaysian Kendo Association (MKA) but to keep it going for 50 years in Malaysia, embodied the spirit of the martial art.

“We are very happy at the contribution we have made in promoting kendo in the region. We have gone through a lot of ups and downs during the last 50 years but with our resilience and strong will, we have managed to survive, so far.

"50 years have gone by, and now we need to look at the future prospects," he told guests during a low-key event to mark the occasion at the Club of Japan of Kuala Lumpur.

While there were initial plans to host a grand two-day event including tournaments, these were suitably scaled back following the COVID-19 pandemic but Abdullah Malim asserted that none of the challenges faced would dampen the spirit of pride of those who had gathered to mark the historic day.

"50 years is a long time and I personally never expected to see this day. But the fact that we are gathered here today clearly indicates the determination and dedication of all our members, both past and present.

"We have survived so far, mainly because of the untiring support and encouragement that we received from various parties, especially from the Embassy of Japan and also the various Japanese consuls in the country, such as Penang and Kota Kinabalu.

"I would also like to pay tribute to the International Kendo Federation and the All-Japan Kendo Federation (ZNKR) for their support,” he added.

The event’s guest of honour, Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Takahashi Katsuhiko congratulated MKA for its tireless efforts and their passion for kendo, which had seen the association go from a modest beginning into a well-known and respected institution.

“I was told that when the Association first started, the Kendo Dojo here was set up in a small wooden structure , sharing the dojo with the Judo and Aikido associations. It must have been challenging to practice Kendo on the tatami mats laid out on uneven floorings with limited access to proper facilities.

“But even under such (a) tough situation, the early members of the Malaysian Kendo Association did not give up easily. Instead, they dedicated their energy to make sure that Kendo continues to strive until they got recognised in the martial arts community in Malaysia,” he said in his remarks at the event,” he said.

The speeches were followed by several demonstrations with the demonstrator showing off their skills with the iconic bamboo swords and traditional armour that kendo is known for besides demonstrations with actual katana, Japanese sword characterised by a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands.

To mark the 50th anniversary, a book, “Kendo in Malaysia: 50 Years And Beyond” was launched, having been put together by Abdullah Malim along with the MKA.

It traces the history of the organisations, through the activities of the two prime movers in promoting the Japanese martial art Kendo to Malaysian society until it received recognition, with consistent support from various sectors.