#IGAKenMemories featuring Verns and Shane Chiongbian

Born in a secret government facility. One of the youngest Filipina international supermodels. Jetted across the globe modeling for prestigious brands at 16. Outside the glitz and glamour, the statuesque Cebuana pursued varied interests such as taking culinary arts, overseeing their restaurant business, tending to an herb garden and doing martial arts training. And that’s just the opening for our 2-dan yudansha Verns Chiongbian. Where does Kendo come in?

Well, this mother, wife and athlete is also a romance author, penning the award-winning novel “Hanami” which won second place at the 2015 Beacon Awards, sponsored by the First Coast Romance Writers under the Romance Writers of America. The main character in her series, Sakura Shintani, is a female Japanese kendoka. Verns’ foray into Kendo is actually to research the martial arts to make the scenes more authentic – and then she fell in love with the sport.

Verns has always been fascinated with weaponry, budo and self-defense arts. Apart from Kendo, she does Tai chi and a bit of Wing Chun (traditional Southern Chinese Kung Fu style) training which halted when her sifu left the country. Due to the pandemic, even Kendo training is on pause.

Now that you’re quite acquainted with one of the most beautiful, generous and down to earth people we know in IGA-Ken, let’s check out her memories from joining the club since 2015 and how Kendo became another avenue for Verns and her sons, Skye and Shane, to bond outside their home.

Passing second dan exam ♥️
I was preparing to take the 3-dan exam in 2020 but the pandemic hit and everything got shelved. I am still determined to take it soon in the near future and am slowly picking up the training pace for this.
I did not take any ranking exams for the other martial arts I trained in, because I wasn’t as passionate as I was with Kendo.
Being part of the national Kendo team, twice I think – ASEAN in Jakarta and ASEAN in Bangkok.
One thing from this experience is that I am amazed at the determination and resilience of the Filipino. All my teammates fight and train so hard from their country, and the sense of camaraderie with your opponents is the epitome of sportsmanship. There’s an air of respect every where you go and it is expected to and from you. It is such a wonderful thing to be a part of.
Scoring against a strong opponent in an international tournament.
This was during the last AKT in Jakarta. Our team did a major clean sweep in our first match and we were all so happy. Most of us, including me, got 2 ippons each.
First Gasshuku experience.
I remember it being just such a fun time. It was also where I had my bogu exam so it was quite memorable. I was also able to bond with other kendoka from the other IGA-Ken dojos since it was a joint event.

Shane started when he was three years old. He was curious about his mom’s hobby and loved looking at bogu and the shinai so one day, he went with her and tried it out.

While he’s the youngest in the dojo back then, he continued to do Kendo because its fun. Verns also said Igarashi-sensei is the perfect teacher for him because he knows how to handle children and allows them to be kids whilst learning the art.

He’s currently an incoming fifth grader in a Christian school. Shane’s all grown up now but let’s look at his cuteness in the dojo.

Grab a copy of the Hanami series now! Available in e-book and paperback. For more details, visit www.vcbuckley.com

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

Next week, we’ll feature a 5-year old trying out a sport his dad used to do, and then two weeks later, his mom joined too.

What dyou think?