Flourishing at the Elephant & Castle since its inception in 1966, the Nenriki Dojo is the oldest continuous member of the British Kendo Association, which is affiliated to the English Sports Council. Nenriki Dojo has provided a cadre of Kendo instructors who have founded other Dojos. It is natural that the first president of the British Kendo Association, Charles Lidstone should have been a member and that the late Sir Frank Bowden, our former president, was also the elect president of the British Kendo Association.
A principle of the club is equality and mutual assistance and in keeping with this worthy ideal we have no stipendiary instructors. Beginners will find every member ready to teach Kendo both within and without the walls of the Dojo.
The name of the club, Nenriki, was given by our benefactor the late Dr. Itoh Kyoitsu, who has discussed the deep meanings of the word in a philosophical publication entitled Nenriki written in the year of our foundation.
Nenriki has been recognised as the sought-after essence of Kendo since early times. The priest Jion, who founded the Nenryu about 500 years ago, said “However much skill is acquired in technique, the strength of endeavour alone is not good enough, everything depends on NENRIKI”. Nenriki is spiritual strength without ambition. It is a strength which applies universally and which is greater than physical skills. It comes from the repetition of great things, like the singing of hymns and thousands of cuts with the sword. Of course such an idea is not uniquely Japanese, and there are parallels in Western society like the power of love. But ‘nenriki’ and other concepts can be realised through traditional hard training with the bamboo practice sword. This is the heart and soul of Kendo.
Kendo embodies the moral code of the samurai and contains disciplines of armed and unarmed combat, together with the development of literary competence. The practise of Kendo is possible for people of all ages and abilities. It is unique in that someone with no natural sporting abilities nor inclination to academy will become progressively stronger if he adheres to the basic principles. All kinds of people meet and become firm friends at the Nenriki in the enjoyment of this the foremost of all Japanese fighting arts; a course in personal improvement and great fun for all.
Apart from normal practise evenings, members of the British Kendo Association from all over the country gather at the club for the annual Kyu Grade championship, held in memory of Charles Lidstone.