The history of Kenkukan starts in the early ’70s Paul Gledhill would train at the Nenriki Dojo, Elephant and Castle, London. After achieving 2nd. Dan he volunteered to start a new Kendo club in Stevenage. At this time there was a Kohichi Kikuchi sensei teaching at Nenriki. He was the first secretary of the Japanese embassy and 7th Dan Kyoshi. He was incidentally the last all Japan University Kendo champion before the onset of World War II.
Paul Gledhill enlisted the help of Fujii Okimitsu sensei and asked Kikuchi sensei if he would name this new dojo. It was explained to Kikuchi sensei that Stevenage was connected with the oak tree. In Japanese this can be pronounced ‘Ken’ the same sound as in ‘Kendo’ (sword way) so Kikuchi sensei suggested KenYuKan:
Ken | oak or sword
Yu | friend(s) or friendly
Kan | hall or building
So KenYuKan literally means: “sword friends hall” or the gathering of friends with the common ideals of sword training.
In 1986 Martin Clark joined KenYuKan at Stevenage practising laido under Gledhill sensei’s guidance. Martin rose through his dan grades rapidly, joining another of Paul Gledhill’s students, Greg Drewe, in the British Iaido squad. Martin and Greg both qualified as full coaches while being very successful and active in both home and European competition, with Martin being named as British team captain in 1999. From the mid 90’s Iaido at Stevenage had become the joint responsibility of Greg and Martin as coaches (Godan) assisted by Mike Bradley (Yondan).
In 1998 Martin Clark approached Gledhill sensei asking permission to carry on the name KenYuKan at another dojo in Suffolk (Haverhill), while keeping Gledhill sensei as overall dojo head. And so KenYuKan (Suffolk) was born. Further extending the history of KenYuKan.