Welcome to the President’s Report for Odoguma Kyudo Melbourne (OKM)! We will also be celebrating our second anniversary in just a few months, on the 8th March 2024. It is an amazing honour to have been part of this club and I am so proud of how far we have all come.
We officially launched OKM as a public incorporated association in March of 2022 with five founding members – Da, Kris, Zen, Calista, and myself. We started by shooting informally at Ambrose Archery in Heidelberg, and promoted the club by inviting new people to come and try Kyudo casually with us. We picked up a few members along the way - both with previous experience in Kyudo and those new to Kyudo, and with these numbers we were able to start looking at venues to establish formal training sessions.
Images © 2022 Da Fang. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
Luckily we were able to find an ideal time on Sunday mornings at the North Melbourne Community Centre. Although it was small, it allowed us to launch a structured training session that included taihai practice and at least up to 20m shooting. With a generous seed funding loan from some of our founding members, we were able to purchase and set up the dojo equipment needed at the new venue - target backstops, stands, mato, and other bits and pieces.
Having a venue, equipment, and a formal training session also enabled us to start offering a structured introduction course to introduce and promote Kyudo to new potential members. We ran our inaugural introduction course in June 2022 with great success and to date have welcomed 100 participants through our introduction courses, with 33 of those continuing on with us as members.
Images © 2023 Da Fang, Rachel Fisher, Calista Wu and Ian Khoo. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
It is very encouraging to see that our waitlist is constantly full of new names, and our last few courses have been fully booked in under 24 hours of opening registrations. Although it takes a lot of effort to run these courses, it has clearly shown huge benefit to us in encouraging the growth of the club.
In August 2022, 6 members from OKM travelled to Sydney to join the Sydney Kyudo Kai (SKK) seminar with Gregory Stewart sensei, who had kindly travelled from Hokkaido for just a few days for us. This was the first official event held in Australia for Kyudo since 2019, and I guess you could say as the first event any of our members attended, it was our official debut as a club. Our members represented us well at this event and very much helped us establish an excellent first impression of our new club to the broader Australian Kyudo community. Check out our blog post about it here.
2022 was a great start to the club, but 2023 brought us even more events an achievements. In April 2023, 3 members from OKM travelled to Nagoya to participate in the 8th Asia-Oceania Kyudo Seminar and Special Provisional Chuo Shinsa – the first grading held since Taiwan in 2019. At this shinsa we had our first two members to pass a grading – a big congratulations to Da and Kris on obtaining your shodan (1st dan)!
Images © 2023 Da Fang and Kris He. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
On the 4th August, as a little pre-seminar event opportunity, OKM hosted an open Exchange Shakai at Ambrose Archery. This was a great casual event that allowed members to socialise as well as have some casual fun shooting, and we were able to welcome members from Melbourne Kyudo Kai (MKK), Sydney Kyudo Kai, and Obihiro Kyudo Kyokai for a great evening.
Images © 2023 Eric Chau. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
In August 2023, 17 members from OKM attended the Victorian Kyudo Association (VKA) seminar with Gregory Stewart sensei as well as Momo senpai (Hui-Ai Lee) at Monash University. It was an excellent opportunity for us to collaborate with members from the Melbourne Kyudo Kai to run a fantastic seminar, and we had a very strong turnout at the event. It was also an excellent opportunity for a lot of our newer members to attend a seminar and receive instruction from a sensei for the first time. I feel that this seminar really demonstrated that there is now the capacity and motivation here in Melbourne to support larger national and international Kyudo events. Check out VKA's blog post about the seminar here.
The Victorian Kyudo Association was able to run the first in-person competition between multiple clubs this year, on the 10th September 2023 (弓道の日). This was again another excellent collaboration between the two clubs of OKM and MKK under the VKA banner, and has given me a lot of hope towards our ability to establish a local competitive scene. 17 Members from OKM competed across both individuals and teams categories. I’m very proud to see many of our members placing in the top scores, with Rina and Ian together with Diego from MKK placing second and Da and Kris together with Lee from Sydney Kyudo Kai placing third in the Teams category, and Da placing second in the individuals category. I’m also very proud that fourth place in the teams category went to some of our newest members at the time – Tim, Luke, and Ray. Well done to all our members who participated and volunteered for representing the club to the best of your ability! Check out VKA's blog post about the state taikai here.
On the week following the State Taikai, the 17th September, we once again put everyone under stress and completed the recording for the Video Shinsa. We are so glad that the International Kyudo Federation opened the opportunity to participate in the Video Shinsa for non-member countries as at the moment we have a number of members without the means to travel internationally to attend a grading. Everyone who attempted the shinsa performed incredibly well, and we are pleased to welcome 11 new shodans and 3 new nidans (2nd dan). As a total, we are now standing at 17 members holding a dan grade, and are hopeful that the opportunity to take Video Shinsa will continue.
Image © 2023 Da Fang and Eric Chau. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
After having originally enquired about booking the North Melbourne Recreation Centre (NMRC) over a year ago, we were finally able to secure a new training venue at NMRC in November 2023. Although it presents some logistical difficulties in the lack of ability to store our equipment on-site as opposed to NMCC. At this stage of the club’s development, being able to train in a venue that allows us the space to have a proper 28m with a minimum of 5 mato, and room to still move around is very important as our membership grows. At our current rate of growth, with enough members one day we may hope to establish a more permanent venue, and although this is still a pipe dream, being able to use the NMRC space is certainly a step closer to achieving this.
Images © 2023 Calista Wu, Ian Khoo, and Rina Kouch. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
I anticipate that we are about to run into the major challenge affecting all Kyudo clubs in Australia – the ability to further develop the skills of our members. At the moment it has been recognised by the Australian Kyudo Association (AKA) leadership that the level of Kyudo in Australia is hitting a wall, where very few members are getting the sandan (3rd dan) and yondan (4th dan) grades. These grades are more challenging because of higher scrutiny of strong technique, perfection of form, and the expectation that you will score at least one hit on the target. At the same time it also seems that the grading panel's standards are becoming even higher, alongside the level of Kyudo practice worldwide having become very strong in the past few years. At next year’s shinsa in February we will have multiple candidates attempting the shinsa for sandan and above. To demonstrate our strength as a club, I believe it is very important to support our senior members to be getting into these harder grades, and this is something we be focusing on in our training in the lead up to the shinsa.
Next year we will also start a Getsureikai, a monthly intra-club competition, as part of our regular training. This will be scored, and the cumulative winner at the end of the year will win a prize. The aim of this is to help us practice to still perform our Kyudo beautifully and consistently when we are under pressure, and to build the endurance to compete against our own stress, anxiety, and/or our desire to win. It will also help build in variety to our training sessions, and help promote higher attendance and motivation to participate.
Finally, next year we are hopefully looking forward to many more fantastic events within Kyudo both domestically and internationally. Increasing the variety of events, and being able to run events like competitions and seminars, is so important to our future growth and enabling our members to set goals within their Kyudo training.
Images © 2023 Rachel Fisher. All rights reserved and unless otherwise noted, may not be copied, downloaded, blogged, distributed, or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of owner.
To date our growth as a club has been absolutely amazing and I would like to give a huge thank you to all of our members. Without you all, we would not have come this far. You all encourage me to try so much harder in my own Kyudo and to constantly try to do my best for the sake of this club. These past two years with Odoguma Kyudo Melbourne have been incredible and I am very much looking forwards to what we can achieve together in the future.
Edited by: Calista Wu