In February of 2009, three kenshi expats – desperately missing kendo – decided to get together and do kendo in Cambodia for the very first time over a meal of sushi. Adam McNeil, Hiroyuki Takeuchi and Kanako Kobayashi founded the Phnom Penh Kendo Club in June 2009, along with Victor Aguayo, who joined the trio 6 months later.
When the three founders finally left Cambodia, Victor continued running the club and in 2011 saw the abrupt growth of its membership. This led to an initiative by the All Japan Kendo Federation (in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Phnom Penh) to donate a number of new bogu sets to the very young club in February 2012. With Victor now back in the U.S., Dr. Itaru Mori and Sakae Yoshida, two of the club’s oldest members, are now the main teachers for the weekend practice, while Jeff Sills (4–dan from the San Francisco Kendo Dojo), who joined the club in 2014, presides over Tuesday night practice. By March of 2016, PPKC had been given the immense privilege to include in their membership Dr. Katsunori Osuga-sensei (K-7dan), who has brought a new addition to the budo taught in Phnom Penh: Iaido. He teaches every Thursday night, and also kendo kata on Saturdays.
At present, the Phnom Penh Kendo Club remains the only kendo group in Cambodia. There are currently 18 regular bogu members, majority of whom are expats from Japan, Korea, the U.S. and the Philippines, while the rest are enthusiastic young Cambodians, whom we hope would continue to foster kendo in Cambodia and expand it across the country for generations to come.