#IGAKenMemories featuring Rafael Javier

Raffy is one of those quiet and unassuming types, so he can be often overlooked when it comes to identifying the “who’s who” in IGA Kendo Club Philippines. However, this 1-dan ranked Kendoka is one of our more senior members, having been with us since March 2012. Even though he doesn’t seek leadership roles, he is more than willing to lend a silent hand to help out with the club’s various projects.

Don’t let the easy grin that is usually found on his face fool you as Raffy is a very serious competitor when properly motivated. He has represented IGA Kendo Club in various local and international competitions and was also a member of the Philippine Team that fought in the 2013 ASEAN Kendo Tournament in Penang, Malaysia. It’s his sudden explosive bursts of speed that is his trademark, which can be seen best when he does drills like kirikaeshi in the dojo.

He readily admits that he sought out Kendo due to Rurouni Kenshin (just like many of his peers), but he stayed in the club for other reasons. Let’s find out why he did.

My days being a newbie at IGA Ken will always be memorable. The senpai were really friendly and helpful. The atmosphere in the club was always fun so I never wanted to miss a day of training. I don't have a picture of me being new. The picture shows me 6 months after just getting into bogu (armored) training. On the same day, we had a fun game of balloon keiko where we tie balloons on various parts of our bogu and try to pop them until only one player is left with an unpopped balloon.

After a year joining the club, we were invited to be part of a delegation to the 10th ASEAN Kendo Tournament. The tournament was an eye opener as we were exposed to kendo from different participating nations from the South East Asia. I lost most of my matches and only pulling a draw on one. However, I had so much fun. During our stay in Penang, where the event was held, I bought everyone milk tea and various snacks as everything was so cheap there.
On the same year, our club was invited to participate in joint training with our friends at MKC. This was regularly held Mondays in Treston International College in BGC. This is also where the a friendly tournament was held where we got to form teams with anyone we wanted. I was able to team up with some of the strongest players in our club. We were able to reach the finals IIRC. However, we lost in the end. This was very memorable to me though as these were the toughest matches for me so far. However, I will always remember how Inting-sensei(3nd Dan at that time) and Osuga-sensei(6th Dan) commended my kendo on that day.
The next time I was able to participate in a tournament outside of the country was in Hong Kong, 2015. Aside from the tournament, we were also able to take part in ranking examination where I was able to get 1st Dan. I always look back on this experience as I believe this is one of the hardest test I had to endure. I don't really have the best stamina so having to continuously attack my exam partner for 2 1-minute rounds was very hard for me. We were so happy when we saw our assigned numbers on the board which showed everyone that passed the exam.
Every year, we would have training camp up in the mountains near Metro Manila. All of these are memorable to me as it always involved partying, games or a big dinner afterwards. The training camp in 2019 was mixed with our Christmas Tournament/Party so after a hard day of training, the night was spent drinking beer and singing karaoke. Even after the games and some of the people had gone to their rooms to sleep, some of us continued to drink as Ariji-sensei treated us to more drinks. This may also be the only time I drank where I didn't fall asleep as i usually would after a few drinks.

Have you been with Raffy in any of these? How about sharing with us your memories too? Message us! We’d love to hear your stories.

Next week, we will be featuring one of jolliest members, a constant source of entertainment for the rest of us in the dojo. Stay tuned and keep safe!

What dyou think?