Oman welcomes its first Kendo club

If you had told me when I first started practicing kendo that I would be leading a kendo dojo,I would have never been able to believe you. However, here I am teaching kendo in Oman. When I look back at the journey that lead me to this point, I think that I was at the right place at the right time. Kendo is something that I have been very passionate about from the moment I started taking classes. It is one of those things in life that you either hate or love. It has this way of taking over your life and so when I left the UK to come to Oman, it left a big void. 

In Muscat there are several martial arts represented but none would be able to fill this gap. For a while, I practiced ice-hockey with the Oman Wadi Dogs. I used to play it backhome when I was younger and always enjoyed the game. However, I could never stop hoping Kendo will resurface in my life again.

As luck would have it, my husband works with the daughter of a very well-respected karate sensei, Mr. Farid Mohammed Al Shahaibi. This gentleman is the father of karate in Oman and most of the Omani schools of karate descend from his own school. When sensei Farid heard about my willingness to open a school of kendo here in Muscat, he not only asked to meet with my husband and I, but also offered the use of his dojo. In his mind, kendo was in Japan and it made sense to welcome it amongst the other budo (Japanese martial arts)present in Oman. Without sensei Farid, I would have never been able to make this dream come true.

The Japanese Embassy has been a fantastic support to us. They really appreciated the cultural value that we could bring to the Japanese presence in Oman and along the Oman Japan Friendship Association, have helped us promote the club even before we were able to accept students.

Traditionally, you do not become a sensei (teacher) unless you have reached the rank of a Sandan (3 rd Dan). However, often when there is no higher grade available, this responsibility will befall on whoever has the most experience. In this case, this role had to be fulfilled by myself. As I did not feel that I had the stature to open my own club, despite holding a couple of awards, I asked my sensei back in UK his approval to open a branch of his club here.

Thus, I have the backing of his experience and wisdom which I hold in great esteem. I am still registered under the British Kendo Federation and as such, have the back up of their process to support me.

In general, I try to teach the way I was taught but always follow the curriculum installed by the All Japan Kendo Federation. I have come to enjoy teaching as much as learning. It has brought a new dimension to my Kendo journey.

You can read more about the instructor and club on our website:

About Ichi Byo Shi Kendo Club Originally, the club was founded in 2006 by Sensei John Bates (3rd Dan) and Sensei Lesley Bates in Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire in Great Britain) Iain Watford (Ikkyu) and Garance Watford (1st Dan) came to Oman in 2018 and set up a branch of the club in September 2019 with the help of Sensei Farid Mohammed Al Shahaibi (7th Dan Shotokan Karate). The club is now established under his patronage in the International Karate Academy Dojo in Muscat.

The club functions under the instruction of Garance Watford under the guidelines of the All Japan Kendo Federation and with the support of both Sensei Bates (3rd Dan) and Sensei Bowden (5th Dan - Great Britain National Team).

For more information, please contact:
Garance Watford - Club Instructor:
+968- 91756417

Bader Al Lawati – Public Relations Coordinator:

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