The South Eastern United States Kendo Federation.
A chance meeting between William “Bill” Holt and Haruhide “Harry” Watanabe was the start of the South Eastern United States Kendo Federation. In 1976, Bill Holt, Judo rokudan and Kendo shodan, entered a martial arts supply store owned by Harry Watanabe. Discovering that they had each practiced kendo in Japan, they decided to start a dojo in Atlanta. This eventually led to the formation of the Georgia Kendo Alliance and membership in the Eastern United States Kendo Federation, centered in New York.
In 1986, Harry Dach in Memphis and Ken Strawn in Charlotte started practices. The following year, 1987, Georgia Kendo Alliance joined with Memphis, Charlotte, and a newly discovered dojo in Miami to apply to the Kendo Federation of the United States of America (the forerunner of the All-United States Kendo Federation) to become a new regional federation. Harry Watanabe was selected as the first president.
Then two events happened in 1988. A new club in Raleigh joined the federation and the first South Eastern US Kendo Championship Tournament was held in October at Emory University in Atlanta. The tournament then moved to Peachtree City, Georgia for the next five years. After that, the tournament rotated among clubs with Miami hosting in 1994, Atlanta in 1995, Memphis in 1997, Charlotte in 1998, Tennessee Meiji Gakuin (near Knoxville) in 1999, Charleston, SC in 2000 and back to Charlotte in 2001.
As time passed, new clubs were formed by Phoung Hoang in Richmond, in Sweetwater, Tennessee by Shinobu Maeda, in Fort Myers by Joe Bass, in Charleston by James Parker, in Fort Walton Beach by Glenn Armand, in Annapolis by Richard Lab, in Jacksonville, NC by Jim Lovell, in Orlando by Eddie Miller, and in Tampa by Bob Souder.
SEUSKF has sent teams to the United States National Championship (held every three years) at Fort Worth in 1990, Santa Clara in 1993, Cleveland in 1996, Las Vegas in 1999, and Los Angeles in 2002. At Cleveland, SEUSKF entered contestants in every division for the first time. The women’s team and the men’s team won the first ever team victories for SEUSKF. At Las Vegas, the Junior Youth team won third place medals, James Tamashiro took third place in the Junior Youth Individuals, and Kunitoshi Arai was awarded a Kanto-sho (fighting spirit) award. At Los Angeles, Frank Nieves took a third place in the Senior Youth Individuals. At the University of Michigan in 2005, both the Senior Youth team and the Women’s team took third places.
In October 2003, The Charleston Kendo and Iaido Club and The Citadel Kendo Club hosted the annual AUSKF Gasshoku (summercamp) attended by 120 kenshi from all across the United States.
Harry Watanabe served as President followed by Ken Strawn, James Parker and Shinobu Maeda. Under current president (tba), the South Eastern United States Kendo Federation continues to grow and spread the Way of the Sword.