Early in 1970, a young and good looking Japanese man reported for duty at the then Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as a Japanese Government’s contribution under JOCV (Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer) programme towards the development of Sports Medicine in Malaysia.
Unknown to him, this young man Toshima Masao will make history by being the founder of Kendo in Malaysia. While previously there have been informal kendo practices since late 1960s, it was Toshima that put in place proper training schedules and formalise the formation of Malaysia Kendo, with the collaboration of Datuk Abdullah Malim Baginda who was then the Director of Youth Service in that Ministry.
Toshima Masao now in his early 70s and a holder of 7-Dan, is still very much involved in Kendo, largely at international level, through his association with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency).
Our first Kendo Dojo was set up in a small wooden structure located within the compound of the Kuala Lumpur YMCA, sharing it with Judo and Aikido groups. It was hard to practice Kendo on tatamis on uneven flooring!
Then the Dojo was moved to Arena PJ, opposite Assunta Hospital PJ. Although more spacious, it was an open structure with cement flooring. It was hard going, but the Kendokas slogged on despite such difficulties. Later we were allocated space at the International Youth Centre in Bandar Tun Razak, but it was taken back after some years.
Now, we are very fortunate that with the support and assistance of the Kuala Lumpur Japan Club, we are fairly settled at its premises with nice wooden flooring in Taman Seputih, Kuala Lumpur.
The first President of Malaysia Kendo was Mr. T. Mori, an elderly Malaysian of Japanese origin. This position was taken over by Datuk Abdullah Malim Baginda in 1971 and he continues to lead the Association to this day.
Among the local Kendo pioneers were Wong Tun Foo, Ong Tong Heang, Micheal D. Ross, Micheal Loh and Bhupinder Singh.
Malaysia participated in all World Kendo Championships since its inauguration in 1971.