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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Laverick

30 years with an English Kenshi (part 7 - August 1999 visit) - by Ozawa Hiroshi sensei

A year after this photo, in October of 2000, I was unable to play kendo due to back pain.

At that time, I didn't think I would have lumbar pain.

These photos are from my fourth visit to England when I became close to Trevor. The

primary purpose of the trip was to train with Trevor and teach at the Kashi no ki

Kenyu kai dojo. I invited Hidaka, the captain of the Tokyo University of Science Kendo Club,

as the visit was in August, and I took my son Ryo with me. I don't know why but I

applied to the Japan Foundation for funding for air tickets and living expenses and was

given a grant at this time too. Meguro-sensei always came with me. ]

The number of members of Kashi no ki Kenyu kai was small, but the training was held at a good standard. It was the result of Trevor's diligent guidance. Trevor was around 4th dan by

then. It was difficult to improve by passion alone if he practiced in a foreign country

and a local city. If you have a strong teacher and work hard for it, you can improve

naturally, but it's not so easy to do in a foreign country.

Unlike today, there were not many good teachers in the past, so it was easy to fall back

on your own style. Trevor was one of them. But Trevor was very studious. He watched

many DVDs and read books to get up to speed on kendo.

In 1997 I published an English book on kendo called “KENDO - The definitive guide”,

considering this situation. Trevor was one of the earliest who bought and read the

book. At that time, it had been two years since it was published and he asked many

questions about it. It was a nostalgic experience for me as it was for the University of

Nottingham accommodation in 1990 when he visited me in my room every night when I

was not practicing and asked me difficult questions.

In addition to the technical questions, Trevor also asked questions about the state of

mind. To answer the technical questions, I always explained the importance of footwork

and bodywork in kendo, and to the question of mental attitude, I admonished people to

practice kendo which focuses on winning, and encouraged them to practice kendo for the sake of being able to do it even when one is 50 or 60 years old. For this reason, I am partly to blame for the fact that Trevor was not very strong in shiai. However, I was only able

to watch Trevor's kendo only occasionally. What I can see was that he was steadily


However, the following year, at the age of 50, I was diagnosed with low back pain and

had to leave kendo for three and a half years. I couldn't even walk. Trevor was worried

about me and sent me many emails to see how my back was doing. Each time I sent

him an email saying, "It's no good," "I can't walk yet," "I can't hold my shinai yet," "I'm

walking with a stick now," and "I'm swinging that stick instead of a bokken now.”

At the age of 54, when I was able to change into kendo clothes and swing shinai, I

received an email saying that he would hold a kendo seminar in Nottingham when I was

able to practice. Thanks to Trevor's encouragement, I was able to get rid of 80% of my

back pain, which I hadn't expected to be cured. I'm not saying it's everything, but it's

not a mistake.

It's important for people to have a goal. And to work towards that goal. When I first

got lumbar pain, I thought, "Oh, this is the end of kendo career for me," and "If I end kendo

at 50, I'll lose my aim of living.” I went to the hospital and asked them to fix me so that

I can walk. The doctor said, "You should walk every day." I had come to the hospital

because I couldn't walk, but the doctor told me to walk every day, so I was angry. But

the doctor said so, and though it hurt and cause me to shed tears, I had no choice but to do it. I took a rest after each step. I took another step and took a rest. It took me 20 minutes to

walk 100 meters, and I walked as fast as I could.

At the Olympics, Carl Lewis was running 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. When I walked in the daytime, people looked at me as if, "I feel sorry for him at such a young age." But a year went by and I didn't get better. Two years went by and my condition was the same. However, I thought only about getting better and lived my life. Strangely enough, I didn't want to practise Kendo. It was too painful to do anything else. As to reply to Trevor's emails of

encouragement, I would describe my condition at the time. Then three years went by

and I noticed a slight change. I was walking faster than before and the pain was slowly disappearing. I sent an email to Trevor about it and he asked me if it was time to do a seminar. The following year, in March 2005, we held the first Kendo Seminar in Ollerton. It had been 15 years since I first met Trevor.

This is the seventh in a series of eight articles written by Ozawa Hiroshi sensei (Kyoshi 8 Dan). Kindly translated by Matsuda Kazuyo sensei (Renshi 7 Dan).

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