New class in traditional Japanese art of the sword

Instructor David McLean, of Leitholm.
Instructor David McLean, of Leitholm.

Berwickshire could be the home of a Borders first with plans for a new martial arts class in Iaido – the traditional Japanese art of the sword.

Borders Genbukan hopes to introduce a beginners’ course in September at Leitholm village hall, teaching beginners the traditional use of a Katana in both offence and defensive moves.

Borders Genbukan is the only Iaido Dojo in the Scottish Borders. David McLean is its leader and he currently holds 5th Dan in this art, as well as being a regional coach for the British Kendo Association.

He is preparing to sit his 6th Dan and hopes to interest some more students in the pursuit. His own instructor is a national coach from Melrose, so if the class is successful, it may be expanded elsewhere in the Borders.

“I used to run clubs in Edinburgh and we were the largest club in Scotland,” explained David. “I had two students who qualified for the GB team and one represented Britain.”

An Iaido class has never been provided in the Borders before, he added.

“We prefer students to be over 15 years old because there are swords, but it’s solo kata, so you are not fighting against anyone,” said David. “Beginners start off with a wooden sword.”

There is a lot of concentration on body work and the sword is largely a tool, he added. The training is very similar to pilates and yoga, and there is a lot of kneeling.

Men and women can perform the art and it is for all ages, said David. “My oldest student was 72, while another trained between the ages of 65 and 68 and got his black belt.”

For more information, contact David via Facebook or on 0795 434 5476.