2007- present

Kendo Developments

 

After seven years abroad, we came back in Amsterdam and started our Kendo practice again at Museido Amsterdam.

I am truly grateful to my Deshi of Museido Amsterdam, Rene, Guido and Mark. They were teaching all the time that we were abroad, and when Jolanda and I came back, there were many new members.

Now it was time for me to start building up my second generation Deshi: Marije, Fleur and Donatella, who joined us from Italy. Ton Loyer who joined Museido Amstedam in 2003 and Kris Lazarevic who joined Museido in 2004 became my final Deshi for Kendo in Amsterdam.

Louis’ Chudan No Kamae 2008

 

I also continued to organize our Kendo Summer Seminars with Iijima Sensei, and gradually these Seminars were growing to quite big events.

Miyamoto Sensei, Takasaki Sensei, Nishino Sensei, Nishino Sensei were senior members of the Ibaraki Prefecture Kendo Federation, and they attended several of our Seminars.

Because of Iijima Sensei’s strong connection with Tsukuba University, we also started to invite Nabeyama Sensei and other teachers from Tsukuba University.

 

 

 

 

In March 2010 I was teaching Jodo in Bari, South Italy, when Jolanda’s elder sister Marjan called me. Jolanda had been taken to hospital because she had suffered a stroke in the left side of the brain. Her speech and left arm were affected, and she was taken into the neurology division of the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam. I still had to stay in Bari for one night, because my flight was the next day. I think this was the worst night I had ever experienced in my life. Of course I could not sleep, but being away from Jolanda at this time was extremely frustrating.

A week later, Jolanda was able to spend a weekend at home, complete disaster struck.

She was sitting on the sofa after a short walk around the house, when a second, massive stroke hit her. I called 112 immediately and the ambulance arrived within 10 minutes. Already she was losing consciousness, and by the time she was taken to hospital she was already in a state of coma.

She had suffered a major stroke and the first days the doctors were not sure if she would live or not, but they already informed us that, even if she would survive, she would be heavily disabled, and not able to live a normal life anymore.

After a few days she awoke from the coma, but she would not recognize me or other family members.

However, under these extreme circumstances, the true fighter in Jolanda emerged. She came out of the coma, and started a very difficult revalidation process, which I experienced every day from close by.

After two years of revalidation, she was able to speak Dutch at a simple level, and she could walk short distances with a stick.

I am convinced that, without Jolanda’s many years long Kendo training, and her strong fighting spirit and willpower,  she would not have been able to recover in the way that she did.

 

 

During the Iijima Cup 2012, Jolanda was awarded the NKR honorary membership.

Because of her long career as Kendo player, and the great work she did for the NKR as team manager, the board of the NKR decided to give her this special award.

 

In 2012 she was strong enough to join me on my trip to Japan and we stayed in Iijima Sensei’s house for 10 days. Edo Sensei and his wife came over all the way from Kanazawa to Tokyo, and we spend an evening together. When Edo Sensei came out of the train station, we were already waiting for him. When he came out, Jolanda stood up from her wheelchair to greet him. When Edo Sensei saw this, his eyes filled with tears, and soon we all were crying.

I thought this showed how Jolanda had a special place in Edo Sensei’s heart, as one of his Kendo daughters, and we were really very happy that he took the trouble to make the long journey only to meet with us for a short time.

In the evening Edo Sensei had arranged a dinner meeting with the famous Miyazaki Sensei. Of course Miyazaki Sensei knew me well, because I refereed him at the WKC various times. We had a very nice talk about Kendo, refereeing, world championships etc.

 

November 2012, Jolanda’s first visit to Japan after her stroke, at Iijima Sensei’s house..

 

 

From November 2012, at the age of 53, I started to challenge 8th Dan for Kendo. I went to Iijima Sensei in November for a week, and also attended an 8th Dan preparation seminar at Iwatate Sensei’s Shofukan Dojo in Tokyo. Iwatate Sensei personally invited me to join this seminar, because in his opinion I was the only European who had a “Japanese Style of Kendo”, which would improve my chances on this exam. Because I was still working full time, I could only spend one week in Japan preparing for the exam, which is of course far from ideal. I tried the exam for 3 times, and failed miserably on most of them. Only one time a had a real good fight, where we only hit three times in the two-minute exam. The first was Ai Men, which we both missed. Then I invited his Men, and hit a perfect Kaeshi Do. Then we hit Ai Men again, and he was able to hit a split second earlier than me. He passed this round but did not make it in the second round. However, for me it was very encouraging: it meant that I was not miles away from the level that was required on this exam. But since the pass rate has dropped under 1 per cent (it is now at 0,5%), it will be almost impossible for me to ever pass this exam.

 

 

 

 

After 2014, I started to develop serious health problems. First my neck hernia stopped me from any training for more than a year. When my neck problem was under control, fortunately without surgery, I developed a severe inflammation in the right shoulder, which also kept me from training. In total I did not train much at all in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Only since I stopped working in May 2018, I started to work on revalidating and getting back to the Dojo again for twice a week Kendo training.

 

 

Iijima Sensei and I decided that from 2014 the Summer Seminar should be held under the responsibility of Nabeyama Sensei. In 2014 he brought two other young 7th Dan with him, Iwamoto Sensei and Kawakami Sensei, accompanied by some top-level students from Tsukuba University Kendo Club. From this year on, the number of participants increased till over 100, from more than 10 different countries. In 2017 there were more than 170 participants, and Nabeyama Sensei told us that he wanted this Seminar to become the most successful Kendo seminar in Europe.

 

In 2014 we also decided to do a new setup for the Iijima Cup Taikai

Thanks to the help of Werner Karnadi, Guido Minnaert and Marije Wouters, we have changed the Iijima Cup into a major Kendo Tournament in Europe. Top players from France, Poland, Belgium and other countries are now participating, and the tournament is now so big that we have more than 150 players. Because of the large number of Shiai, the tournament is now held over two days.

Of course Iijima Sensei is always visiting the tournament and he is still making some of the prizes by hand.  

 

 

The 30th edition was a very successful Taikai, and we had gold medals of Makoto van der Woude (Men Individual) and the Dutch Team.

 

 

In 2014 the three Sensei who made the biggest impact on the development of the NKR, Edo Sensei, Ishido Sensei and Iijima Sensei were given a Commendation Award. For me personally this was extra pleasant, because these three are my personal “Onshi” (teacher to who you own the highest of debt), and in the case of Ishido Sensei and Iijima Sensei I was also the one who introduced them to The Netherlands.

 

Ishido Sensei’s award was handed over in presence of the Japanese Ambassador during the Iaido Jodo Summer Seminar in Eindhoven.

Iijima Sensei got the award in the Museido Amsterdam Dojo, during the Kendo Summer Seminar.

Because Edo Sensei cannot travel long distance flights anymore because of his back injury, I went to Kanazawa in November 2014 to hand over the Award to him in person.

In front of Edo Sensei´s house

I had not been to Edo Sensei’s house in many, many years and this time I stayed with him for two days. It was just like old times: for two evenings we spend our time eating his wife’s lovely food and the sashimi we bought at the Kanazawa fish market. We talked about the old times of course, but mostly we talked about the development of Kendo in Japan and the world.

When I handed over the NKR award, he was very honored to receive it. Just a few months earlier, he had refused a similar award from the ZNKR, for his many years contribution to the development of Kendo in Japan. His comment was: “ Why should I accept an award from that amateur organization? This award from the NKR is worth ten time more to me, and I appreciate it very much. I’m really proud of this award.”

 

 

In 2016 the NKR celebrated the 50th year anniversary of the founding of our federation.

With help of many of my students and other NKR members, we were able to organize a very successful event.

All the Kendo, Iaido, Jodo teacher who played a major role in the development of the NKR were present, except Edo Sensei, who could not travel because of his back injury.

It was one of those rare seminars where all three disciplines came together

Ishido  Shizufumi  Sensei

iaido Hanshi 8th dan, jodo kyoshi 8th dan

Yoshimura Keiichi Sensei

iaido kyoshi 8th dan, jodo kyoshi 7th dan

Otake Toshiyuki Sensei

jodo kyoshi 8th dan, iaido kyoshi 7th dan

Shoji Keiichi Sensei

jodo kyoshi 8th dan, iaido kyoshi 7th dan

Matsuoka Yoshitaka Sensei

iaido kyoshi 8th dan

 

 

Kinomoto Miyuki Sensei

iaido kyoshi 8th dan

Nabeyama Takahiro Sensei

kendo kyoshi 8th dan

Iijima Akira Sensei

kendo kyoshi 7th dan

Iwamoto Takamitsu Sensei

Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan

Kawakami Arimitsu Sensei

kendo kyoshi 7th dan

 

The Next Generation in Dutch Kendo

Since many years, my Deshi Mark has been coach of the Dutch Kendo Team, recently followed up by my Deshi Guido.

On the WKC of 2015 in Japan, my Deshi Fleur Smout won the fighting spirit award, and achieved a place with the best 8 female individuals of the word! The Ladies Team was with the best 8.

Fleur and Sayo both with  best 8 and a fighting spirit award!

 

In 2017, our ladies team finished third on the European Kendo Championships.

Dutch Delegation at the EKC 2017

 

At the 2019 edition of the Tengu Cup Frankfurt, at which I am always acting as Shinpancho (Head of Referees), Jo and were awarded a special present, for our contribution to the 30 year anniversary of Katana Frankfurt Dojo.

30th Anniversary Katana Frankfurt, with signatures of all the members

 

 

In 2019, the Dutch Kendo ladies had their most successful EKC ever.

The ladies won the Team final of France with 3-1, after beating strong countries such as Poland, Germany and Italy.

My Deshi Fleur Smout, who has already won so many tournaments, got third place in the Ladies Individual as well.

Olga and Fleur of Museido Dojo played an important role in the Dutch success, which we celebrated in our Dojo.

 

With Mark and Guido and Donatella now all 7th Dan, I’m pleased to see that I have built a strong foundation for the next generation of Kenshi in The Netherlands. 

 

 

Main achievements of my Kendo Deshi

 

Mark Herbold 7th Dan Kyoshi Kendo

 

1st place Iijima Cup 1992, 1995, 1998

2nd place Iijima Cup 1996, 1999. 2000

3rd place Iijima Cup 1993

1st place European Championships 1998 + FOG Topsport price

2nd place European Championships 1999

Fighting Spirit EKC 1992

3rd Place EKC team 1993                                          

1st place Nakakura Cup 1998, 1999

3rd place EKC Teams 1999

1st place NKK Team 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001

2nd place NKK Team 2002

3rd place NKK Team 1995, 2000

1st place Edo Cup 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998

2nd place Edo Cup 1999

1st place NKK Kendo 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001

3rd place NKK Kendo 1993, 1996

1st place Fumetsu Cup 1997

2nd place Mumeishi 1995

3rd place Tournoi de Paris 1993

In the 90’s Mark was one of the strongest Kenshi in Europe and very successful on many National and International Kendo Tournaments.

 

 

Here’s Mark with a replica of one of the Iijima Cups

 

 

Guido Minnaert 7th Dan Renshi Kendo

 

NKK Individual

1st Place 2000, 2005, 2006

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places)

NKK Team

1st Place 1997, 1989, 1990, 2008, 2009

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places)

NKK Students

1st Place 2005

 

Iijima Cup Individual

1st Place Iijima Cup 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places)

Iijima Cup Team

1st Place 2006, 2007, 2010

3rd Place 2009, 2015

 

Edo Cup

1st Place 1989,1995, 2005, 2009

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places)

 

Fumetsu Cup

1st Place 2000

 

EKC Men Team

3rd Place 1993, 1999, 2010

Paris Open Taikai Men Team

3rd Place 2009

 

 

Japan East West Student Championships

Fighting Spirit 2001

 

Kasahara Cup Team

3rd 2006

Alessandria Cup Individual

3rd 2010

 

Only few people in Europe have as many awards as Guido: more than 70!

 

 

Marije Wouters 5th Dan Kendo

1st NKK Ladies Individual 2014

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places)

1st place NKK teams 2009

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places)

3rd place EKC Ladies Team 2011 + 2013

2nd place EKC Ladies Team 2014

Fighting Spirit Prize EKC Ladies Team 2008

Fighting Spirit Prize Nakakura Cup 2004 + 2014

3rd Place Ladies Individual London Cup 2012

3rd Place Ladies Individual Open de Paris 2009

3rd Place Teams Coppa Italia 2009

1st & 2nd Place Teams Iijima Cup 2014

3rd Place Ladies Individual Iijima Cup 2014

Fighting Spirit (Edo Do) Edo Cup 2006

1st  & 2nd Place Team Edo Cup 2009

Look at all these prizes won by Marije!

 

 

 

Fleur Smout 5th Dan Kendo

1st Place NKK Ladies 2008 + 2009 + 2011 + 2015 + 2018

 (+ various 2nd and 3rd places at NKK)

1st Place EKC Ladies team 2019

3rd Place EKC Ladies team 2011 + 2017

2nd Place EKC Ladies team 2014

3rd Place EKC Ladies individual 2019

Best 8 WKC Ladies Individual 2015 and Fighting Spirit Prize

Best 8 WKC Ladies Team 2018

Best 16 WKC Ladies Individual 2018

3rd Place Coppa D’Italia Team 2009 + 2011

Fighting Spirit International Triscele Tournament of Kendo Italy 2011

3rd Place Iijima Cup Ladies Individual 2014 + 2015 + 2016

Fighting Spirit (Edo Do) Edo Cup 2018

(+ various 2nd and 3rd places at Edo Cup)

Fleur played a major role as captain of the Dutch Ladies in the 2019 EKC victory

 

Look at all these prizes won by Fleur!

 

Dutch Ladies Team: European Team Champion 2019!

Fleur also won 3rd Place at the EKC 2019.

 

Look at Fleur’s technique: top level!

 

 

Iaido Jodo developments

 

Since our return to The Netherlands, the development of Iaido and Jodo in Europe has gone very well.

When we moved to Germany, we started to join the Jodo training at Karl’s seminar in Villingen again. During our stay in Germany we also met with Marie-Louise, Robert & Susi of Munchen, and with Emanuele of Bari. Since 2005 I started to teach these new groups, and in the mean-time many of the first participants are 5th Dan Jodo, and Robert & Susi even passed their 6th Dan in 2018.

Munich Jodo Seminar 2011. Participants from Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland.

 

Jock joined the Munich Jodo Seminar in 2017.

 

Munich Jodo Seminar 2018: 35 participants from Germany, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland.

 

Participants are now ranging from Mudan up to 7th Dan!

 

 

Jodo Seminar Bari, 2005.

 

 

My Deshi and good friend Emanuele in his Garden in Bitritto.

 

Jodo Seminar Bari, 2018. Jodo friends from UK and Sweden joined as well!

 

Cosimo and Emanuele, my crazy Jodo students in Italy.

 

 

My first generation Deshi not only are teaching in their own Dojo, they are also regularly invited to teach abroad. They are also acting as referees on the Iaido and Jodo European Championships. between us (Louis, Rene, Aad, Andre, Edwin, Karl, Bernard), we have played a large role in the development of Iaido and Jodo in: The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland.

The European Iaido and Jodo Championships are now large events in their own right, but they all started in The Netherlands, with the great support of Ishido Sensei.

Although I cannot do Iaido anymore myself, I still sometimes act as a panel member on an Iaido grading. Because Ishido Sensei trained me so well in the points to watch for in Iaido, I can still manage to be a judge for Iaido gradings. My ability to see a lot of details has fortunately not faded away.

One of highlights of my Jodo career was when my Deshi Rene van Amersfoort passed his 8th Dan Jodo in Japan in 2016. I think this is the summum for a Budo teacher: when one of the earliest students surpasses the teacher after so many years, it’s a truly joyful event.

I will never forget my first phone call to Ishido Sensei, just after Rene’s exam. I called Ishido Sensei on his mobile, and the whole group were in a restaurant in Kyoto, celebrating Rene’s great success.

He picked up the call and I congratulated him on the event. To my surprise, the first thing he said: “the first thing I told Rene when he passed the exam was to never forget that Louis is his teacher, and will always remain just that!”. Only after he had mentioned this, he congratulated me on the great achievement of one of my longest Deshi. This clearly shows the importance Ishido Sensei puts on the human relations within our Iaido Jodo family.  

 

I think the main reason why Rene was able to achieve this is his complete devotion to Jodo training. Therefore I presented him the beautiful calligraphy that I got from Nakakura Sensei in 1985 for my Kendo book. The Kanji are Shisei  至誠 literally “go to” and “truth” but it means devotion to training in the case of Budo.

Shisei Calligraphy by Nakakura Kyoshi 9th Dan

 

 

Rene During his 8dan Jodo exam. 100% focus!

 

 

Rene with Namitome Sensei, 8dan Hanshi Jodo and a regular visitor to Europe.

 

 

In January 2018 we organized the 20th edition of the Ishido Cup. In the mean time this tournament has grown to a full international main event. On the 20th edition Ishido Sensei himself was present. There were 112 participants for Jodo and 203 for Iaido, from 17 countries. Unfortunately after this event Ishido Sensei was involved in a serious car crash when he was driving from airport back home, and he suffered serious injuries. In the mean time he has recovered remarkably, and he is planning to come to the Netherlands again in August 2019, to celebrate the 40th year anniversary of his visits to Europe.

 

Ishido Cup 2018 Jodo part.

Ishido Cup 2018 Iaido part.

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Geplaatst in Louis Vitalis & Jolanda Dekker.