1990 – 1999

Kendo Developments

 

In 1990 we had a very strong male Kendo Team in the NKR, and they won 2nd place on the European Kendo Championships in Berlin. Sergio Velasquez even won the male individual championship, the first time a male Dutch Kendoka won a major tournament.

In order to improve the Kendo level in The Netherlands further, I proposed two new Kendo Tournaments: The Edo Cup and the Iijima Cup. These tournaments are still held, and the Iijima Cup has grown to be a major Kendo event in Europe, with more than 150 participants from more than 15 countries.

In 1990 I invited Edo Sensei to come to Amsterdam again.

Louis v.s. Edo Sensei: guess who’s winning?

 

 

The first Iijima Cup of 1990 was also my last Kendo Tournament as a player. By this time I was 31, and at the end of my career as a Shiai player. It wasn’t much of a career anyway, but the results that Jolanda was still obtaining in Kendo Shiai was satisfying enough for me.

Yes it’s true, Louis won the first Iijima Cup!

 

 

The younger generation, such as Sergio Velasques and later Mark Herbold were gaining strength, and they were much better athletes than me. However, I still felt obliged to Iijima Sensei to join the first Iijima Cup Tournament, and I fought the best way I could. I beat Sergio in the final, which was no small feat, considering the fact that he was the European Champion!

In the late 1980’s I started to focus more on teaching and refereeing in Kendo tournaments. I also started my career at Nippon Express in 1988, which meant I could not train for Shiai as much as would be needed to get high level results.

In 1991 I joined the World Kendo Championships as a referee. Although I was still a 5th dan, they selected me to referee the quarter final. This was the start of my long career as a WKC referee. After the tournament I challenged my 6th dan, and I was the only candidate out of a group of 19 who passed. Jolanda was at her peak of Shiai Kendo, and she made it to the best 8 of the WKC. It would take more than 20 years until another Dutch female (Sayo van de Woude), would achieve the same result.

 

Jolanda passed her 5th Dan Kendo in 1992.

Look at Jolanda’s focus before the grading

 

Any doubt that Jolanda was the best 5th Dan in Europe at this time?

Of course she also excelled in Kendo Kata!

Edo Cup 1992: Mark commenting to Jolanda about someone’s footwork…….

In 1993 Mark, Jolanda, Thea and Anita spend a few weeks in Japan

 

 

Iijima Sensei was also the coach of the Dutch Kendo Team for a few years.

Who is that Japanese with the mustache? Trying to copy Louis? And Rene Bonne (far left) with hair!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1995 we organized a seminar with high ranking Sensei from Ibaraki. The late Miyamoto Sensei (Kendo 8 dan Hanshi) was leader of the delegation. Takasaki Sensei is still active now, even in his mid-nineties!

 

On the WKC of 1997, my student Wing Tan and Jolanda both won a fighting spirit prize. I was referee at the Men’s Final, and for the coming years I would be selected as referee in the finals of the WKC.

The Dutch Kendo team of 1997 in front of Iijima Sensei’s house.

 

Nakakura Sensei was very fond of Jo.

During one of Sensei’s many visits to the Brussels Winter Seminar, Sensei was doing jigeiko with Jo. There were dozens of other Kenshi lining up in front of Sensei, but Sensei was having so much fun training with Jo, that he completely forgot the time and the Keiko lasted many minutes.

Finally, Hirakawa Sensei came over and told Nakakura Sensei to stop training with Jo and give the other Kenshi a chance as well!

 

Nakakura Sensei and Jo

 

At the end of the 1990’s, the EKC had grown to a really big tournament, and of course the level of Kendo in Europe was getting much better across the board as well.

In 1998 my student Mark Herbold became the second Dutch male to win the EKC. Jolanda made it to 2nd place, but by this time she was already 40 years old. Still only few females in Europe could beat her.

One year later Mark was in the final of the EKC again, and this time he got 2nd place.

In 1999 Jolanda and I made a big decision in our life: we moved to Japan, where I could get a job as an expat employee for my company. This was the start of a 7 years period in which we were not in The Netherlands, and my students had to take over the teaching and training, both in the NKR and in the Museido Dojo.

 

 

 

Iaido Jodo Developments

 

In the 1990’s my first generation Iaido and Jodo students were becoming teachers in their own Dojo, and we really build up a strong foundation for the Iaido and Jodo development in The Netherlands. The Seminars with Ishido Sensei’s group were by now well established, and we organized these Seminars every other year. One year in the UK, one year in The Netherlands.

1990 Summer Seminar UK (Hendon): Who can you recognize?

 

Sensei………how can I do Kuritsuke this way???????????

 

1990 Summer Seminar UK (Hendon): Who can you recognize? (part 2)

 

 

1990 Eishikan Jodo Taikai 3/4/5 dan division won by Jo & me. Handsome Couple, don’t you think?

 

 

 

Jolanda & Louis at Jodo Taikai. O Sensei is referee

 

 

 

 

I passed my Iaido 6th Dan in 1992 And Jodo 6th Dan in 1998.

Ishido Sensei taught us the Muso Shinden Ryu of Iaido, and we even had a Tachi Uchi no Kurai Seminar in Museido Dojo in 1992. The video that was taken of that Seminar is still the reference material for this.

The Beauty and the Sword

 

The first generation Deshi of Ishido Sensei were also allowed to join the Muso Shinden Jushin Ryu, which was taught by Ishido Sensei to a small number of students. This style is still practiced in the traditional way of the old schools, so the number of students will stay very limited. Only those who are personally vetted by Ishido Sensei are allowed to join this group. At this moment only Rene van Amersfoort is still active in this school of Iaido.

Also in the early 90’s I was teaching in Germany regularly

 

The early seminars in Villingen was just with Ishido Sensei and me as teachers

 

                                

 

The Iaido Jodo Seminars in Holland grew into major events

 

Louis: Sensei, Dutch Herring is soooo Oishi (delicious)! Hiroi Sensei: mmmm not so sure

 

Ishido Sensei, Jock and I had one big dream: European Championships in Iaido and Jodo.

Although we had already organized international tournaments in both disciplines in The Netherlands and UK, it took till 1993 for the first European Iaido Championships to be organized.

It would take until 2002 for the first European Jodo Championships to be organized.

 

Jock and Louis doing Embu at the Iaido European Championships 1994

 

By now these events are very well established, but in the 1990’s it took a lot of effort to get these tournaments officially organized within the EKF. Because the NKR was able to take care of the organization, we could prove to the EKF that it was worthwhile to do these tournaments.

In 1998, at the age of 38, I passed my 7th Dan Iaido. Of the more than 200 participants on this grading, I was candidate A1: the youngest of all. Thanks to the great support of Ishido sensei in the preparation of the exam (Jock and I trained like madmen for 6 hours a day in Sensei’s Dojo) and his support in the background, I was able to make a good performance on the grading. Jock also passed 7th Dan Iaido at this exam.

Unfortunately by the time of the grading my knees were already getting painful, and when I had to get an operation on my elbow I had to give up Iaido completely.

I’m still very grateful to Ishido Sensei for his teachings, it made me the first European ever to pass 7th Dan Iaido before the age of 40. Now most of my first generation Deshi are 7th Dan Iaido themselves, and very well qualified to take over the teachings in the lineage of Ishido Sensei.

 

 

Also, Ishido Sensei started to invite Sensei from other Ryu to join the Seminars: Jikiden, Tamiya and Shinkage followers own a lot to Ishido Sensei for bringing the very best Sensei to Europe. Without Ishido Sensei’s open mind to make Iaido accessible for other Ryu as well,  the development of Iaido in Europe would have been much more limited than it is now.

 

During the Iaido Jodo summer seminar in SIttard, unfortunately Ishido Sensei lost his wallet, with a lot of cash in it. All the students did their best to collect cash as much as possible, so I was able to hand over an envelope when I met Ishido Sensei two months later.

Here is Ishido Sensei’s thank you letter:

 

Rough Translation of Ishido Sensei’s thank you letter.

Greetings,

Already two months have passed since the 1998 August Summer Seminar in Sittard. Thanks to everybody, this year’s seminar was a great success, without any injury and in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere .

For me and the other teachers who accompanied me, it was a great life experience and study for us, and the great contact that we have with everyone made us all think that we were very lucky to have started Budo. Furthermore, I received from Louis san the support that all of you were so kind to collect, and I want to thank everybody very deeply for this. For 20 years I have been telling my fellow travelers to be careful when traveling, but now it was the one who has been telling this who made the mistake of not paying attention. I really hope this will be a one-off incident.

In any case, I feel really lucky to have so many friends with a warm heart.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope you and your family will enjoy continued health and happiness and prosperity.

 

October 1998

Ishido Shizufumi

 

I think this letter shows clearly that Ishido Sensei not only developed a teacher student relation with many people in Europe, also it has grown into a relation of deep friendship between Ishido Sensei and the Sensei that accompany him and many of us in Europe.

 

 

 

On 17th January 1999 we also organized the first Ishido Cup.

Many years we took Sensei and the group to various cities in Europe, Paris, Venice, etc.

On a trip with Ishido Group.

 

1980 – 1989

Kendo Developments

 

In 1980 I entered Leiden University, department of Japanology. Because I wanted to learn all there was to learn about Kendo, and because Edo Sensei and Iijima Sensei’s English was very limited, there was only one solution for me: become proficient enough in Japanese, so that they could teach me all the details in their own language.

 

In 1980 and 1981 I won the Dutch Kendo Championships. Because I had been training in Japan in 1979, and because I was the youngest Kendoka in The Netherlands, I had a big advantage over the other Kendoka.

Louis and Ralf Oquendo demonstrating Kendokata

 

 

Jolanda on the way to Keiko

Kendo in Shinbuken Dojo Amsterdam 1980

 

 

Also in April 1980, I invited Iijima Sensei to come over to Amsterdam and he and his wife stayed in our house for a week. I still lived with my mother in those days, but we had a great time together. After one week in our house, Iijima Sensei stayed on the House Boat which Ed and Roelof Roosterman owned. Iijima Sensei and his wife had been without child for ten years, but on the House Boat they had help from the floating feeling, and it was here that their only son, Toshikyuki was conceived. Ever since, Toshiyuki has been named “made in Holland”.

 

Iijima Sensei’s first visit to Amsterdam, with Furuya Sensei and Ogura Sensei, 1980

 

Dutch Championships 1981 Final: Louis v.s. Raph, both Nito!

 

Ralph (2nd), Louis (1st), Jaques and Hans (3rd) NKK 1981

 

Young Jolanda and Anette 1981

 

 

Dutch Team EKC Berlin 1981

In the summer of 1981 I went to Japan again, this time on a Cultural Visa, and stayed for a year.

I was very lucky that Edo Sensei became my sponsor, because in the early 1980’s there was no organized Kendo Curriculum for foreigners at Japanese Universities. I had to organize and finance everything myself, and without Edo Sensei’s help it would not have been possible.

Edo Sensei first arranged an apartment for me. This was not easy, because at that time it was not common to rent out to foreigners for only a one-year period. Fortunately Edo Sensei found a real estate agent who was willing to rent a room to me, but without Edo Sensei’s strong back up this would not have been possible.

He also supported me financially. I gave English lessons to his son, for which Edo Sensei paid the fees.

After arriving in Japan, I first went to Iijima Sensei for some time, and he and his father in law brought me to Kanazawa by car. This took all night, and when we arrived in Kanazawa, we immediately had to go to the Dojo for a Keiko with Edo Sensei.

In the Winter of 1981 Jolanda, who was Shodan Kendo, joined me and stayed in Kanazawa with me for three months. This was the start of a special relationship between Edo Sensei and Jolanda. Because he had no daughters but two sons, Jolanda became one of his “Kendo Daughters”. Oda Yoshiko, his other “Kendo Daughter”, was a young first year student in the days I was there, and she became one of Edo Sensei’s most proficient female Kendo students. Not only was she very strong in Shiai, she also made profound study of Japanese and Korean Kendo and eventually passed her 7th Dan.

The practice at Kanazawa University was very tough. We practiced 6 times a week, for two and a half hours each time. The Wednesday practice was so called “Training”, which meant that we were mostly outside, doing running, jumping, running upstairs or slopes, and Suburi with a heavy Shinai.

The Sundays were mostly filled with Taikai, but sometimes we had a day of as well.

After three months I was sick for about a week. When Sensei came into my Tatami Room which I rented, he laughed out loud: “you’re over trained! Take a break for a week and you’ll be fine”.

Kanazawa University Dojo 1981

 

 

 

After this, I could finally keep up with the training every day. I did Keiko with Sensei almost every day, and most of the times I was so exhausted fighting him, that I lost consciousness many, many times. I can’t do that with my students in Europe of course, but in those days,  no one would complain about it.

After three months I also scored the first real Ippon on Edo Sensei: I went for the Men hit, he tried to block it, so I could hit his Kote. I still remember this situation clearly. I even know where in the Dojo we stood, and how happy he was that I finally hit him! Of course in the next few minutes he hit me about a hundred times, but I still had my first real Ippon on him.

The winter of 1981/1982 in Kanazawa was very severe. As an inhabitant of The Netherlands I had never seen more than 10 centimeters of snow, but one morning I woke up and could not leave my apartment, because the snow was covering the whole height of the front door! We had to remove the snow, which was over one meter in height until we could reach the road.

In this winter I also joined the Kan Geiko of Kanazawa University Kendo Club. Of course the Dojo was not heated, and they even opened all the doors and windows, so that the temperature inside would be the same minus 5 degrees as outside! The training would start 7 in the morning and last for about one and a half hour. I clearly remember a few things about this training, which lasted for 5 days.

First, Edo Sensei and I were the only ones who attended every day. Most of the students skipped at least one or two days. Second, because the Dojo was so cold, once we took our Men off, a small cloud of dampness would develop around our heads. And lastly, I remember my feet would be so cold at the end of the training, that I could kick the concrete wall with my toes, and not feel anything. My feet were completely numb.

Fortunately every training would end in Sensei’s room with some typical Japanese winter foods, so we would warm up quickly.

Being a very small person, even for Japanese standards, Edo Sensei developed incredible footwork, but also an ability to use almost every technique that exists in Kendo in Keiko or in Shiai. Basically he taught me everything: Jodan, Nito, Katate Waza, various attack and defense options and how to set up your strategy towards your opponent.

Because of my mediocre talent, I was never able to use this training and win a major Tournament such as the European Kendo Championships. But it did work out for Jolanda, who was much more talented in Kendo than me, and who would become the first official European Lady Kendo Champion in 1989.

Edo Sensei also taught me how to be Shinpan in Kendo Shiai. We did a lot of Shiai practice and because I was a little older than the 4th year students, I was acting as Sinpan many times a week. This was the basis of my career as a Kendo Referee. Because of this experience, I was already used to refereeing Japanese Kendo and this is one of the reasons I was selected as referee on the WKC team finals for many years.

I also remember my final Keiko with Edo Sensei at the end of my one-year stay. Because it was impossible to hit his Men, I decided to try something I had learned during my stay: a faint attack under his Shinai to the Kote, and then jump forward to hit Tsuki when his Shinai moved sideways to defend the Kote. It worked perfectly, and it was only the second Ippon I scored on him in the whole year.

During my year in Kanazawa, I was one of the students who were in Edo Sensei’s “Kendo Kenkyu Shitsu” (Kendo Study Group) every day. I could read Japanese pretty well by this time, and started to translate all of Edo Sensei’s studies on Kendo. After my return to Amsterdam Henk Oosterling helped me to turn this into a Kendo Book, written in Dutch.

Jolanda and the girls from Kanazawa Univ. Kendo Club

 

 

Dutch beauty in Japanese snow

 

 

Biomechanical Study on Kendo by professor Edo

 

 

In the 1980’s Kanazawa University was inside the castle,

now it is a famous tourist attraction.

 

 

 

Louis in Edo Sensei’s Kendo Study Department, Kanazawa University

 

Kanazawa Univ. Kendo Club Graduation Party January 1982

 

 

When Edo Sensei retired, he assembled a kind of memoires of his lifelong Kendo career. Here are some parts of that (in Japanese), where my stay in Kanazawa are mentioned.

 

 

 

Message from Edo Sensei to me: “Yume, ippo, ippo” : Dream, step by step.

 

 

Edo Sensei at his retirement age.

 

 

Louis & Jolanda in Kanazawa, 1981.

38 years later: April 2019 Edo Sensei insisted we took a picture on the same location!

 

 

Edo Sensei teaching in Europe.

 

Edo Sensei’s description of my stay in Kanazawa (part 1)

 

Edo Sensei’s description of my stay in Kanazawa (part 2)

 

 

Rough Translation: The Kenshi from Amsterdam

This article was originally written by Edo Sensei for the 50th year anniversary of the All Japan Student Kendo Federation magazine in 1989.

 

Now it is very common to have international relationships, but 30 years ago it was very difficult to have regular contacts with foreigners or to go abroad for work, because of social and financial barriers. In those days, it was 360 yen for one US$!

In 1974 a few individuals such as Ed Roosterman and Ralf Oquendo had developed in interest in Kendo as a traditional Japanese martial art, and they joined my trainings in the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, where I was teaching Kendo. One of the Amsterdam Kenshi, Louis Vitalis, came walking past the Kenrokuen Park in Kanazawa, through the Ishikawa Gate of the castle, with his Bogu on his shoulder, in 1979 at the age of 18.

Two years later he came again to Kanazawa Kendo Club on “Musha Shugyo” (proper samurai training), as an overseas student, all paid by himself. The first thing that I had to arrange for him was a place to live. However, in those days it was not so easy to find a real estate agent who would rent out a room for only one year, even though a university teacher would guarantee payment for it.

Fortunately I found a real estate agent who had graduated from Kanazawa University who understood the situation and we found a place to live for Louis. The next problem was the cost of living. As a student of Leiden University Louis had saved up some money from his side jobs, but this was not enough to survive in an expensive city as Kanazawa. Because Louis was not a native speaker of English, it was hard to find students for English lessons. Therefore I decided to let him teach English to my eldest son, and with that money and his savings he could just survive.

Louis Kendo training in Kanazawa would start at 2 pm, when he came to the Kendo Kenkyu Shitsu (Kendo Study department of Physical Education Division) where he would study my teaching methods and the scientific studies we were doing into Kendo. He would then translate these into Dutch. We would also practice Jodo, besides the daily Kendo training. The other students, who were about Louis’ age, were very impressed by Louis attitude and training, even being so far away from home, and together they would improve and polish their skills in Kendo.

Of course Louis would join the Kendo Club parties and a real friendship with the students would develop. Sometimes I would walk with Louis through Kanazawa, and in those days the people of Kanazawa and the many tourists would look at him with an expression of surprise on their faces. Some of the girls students would shout out loudly: “hey look a foreigner!”. After his return to Amsterdam Louis would publish his work in a book called {Kendo, techniek tactiek en didaktiek} in 1985. Although he is still far from skilled in Kendo, he has been selected to referee the finals of the world Kendo Championships.

 

 

In the Summer of 1982 I returned back to Amsterdam. The first thing I did, was to move with Jolanda into our own rental flat in Amsterdam.

I started to teach Kendo, Iaido and Jodo from this period. Although I was young, unexperienced and totally unqualified to teach, there was no one with more knowledge in the Amsterdam area, so automatically I was teaching the things that I had learned during my one year stay in Kanazawa.

During the year I was in Kanazawa, I not only trained Kendo and Jodo every day, I also studied Kendo History and Biomechanics under Edo Sensei. I translated most of his studies into Dutch and brought all this with me to Amsterdam.

 

Together with Henk Oosterling, one of the founding members of Fumetsu Dojo in Rotterdam, I started to compile everything into a book.

It took more than 2 years to finish, but I’m still very proud of this work.

Because of Edo Sensei’s high standing in Japan, we were even honored by a written introduction and a beautiful calligraphy by the famous Nakakura Sensei, 9th Dan.

Many years later, Nakakura Sensei took me for Kendo to the Imperial Police Dojo, inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.


Nakakura Sensei, 9th Dan.

 

Also, because most of the work on this book we did at Henk’s home in Rotterdam, I was teaching Kendo in Rotterdam for almost 2 years, on a very regular basis. Both Koos van Hattum and Gerard Barbier trained with me in that period. They are now 7th Dan and 6th Dan and still very good friends of us.

 

 

In 1983 we were interviewed by Mainichi Newspaper.

In 1983 I participated in the European Kendo Championships, in Chambery, France. Although I should have won this tournament, I lost my Heijoshin in the Quarter Final and lost from Rainer Jattkowski from Berlin. He would be second in the Tournament, and I was awarded the Fighting Spirit Prize.

In 1984 I again made it to the best eight at the European Kendo Championships in Brussels, but I lost form the guy who won the Tournament and I was awarded the Fighting Spirit Prize again.

 Louis scores Men in Chambery EKC, 1983

 

 

In these years there was no official Ladies division on the European Kendo Championships, but after her three months stay in Kanazawa, Jolanda was already developing a great insight in Kendo matches, and she already won prizes at the Mumeishi 3’s Kendo Tournament in London. This was the biggest Kendo event in Europe in those days, even bigger than many European Championships.

Dutch delegation to Mumeishi 1982

 

 

 

 

 

Another Mumeishi Award for Jolanda

 

And another first place for Jolanda!

 

 

In the 1980’s Jolanda was practically unbeatable in Europe! She was 2nd at WKC 1985 Ladies Goodwill, only an American-Japanese woman was (a little) stronger than Jolanda.

 

 

Famous Iaido Enbu of Nakakura Sensei, WKC 1985

 

 

Dutch Kendo Team WKC 1985

Louis ready for Shiai, WKC 1985

 

 

 

Nakakura Sensei, his wife and Louis at WKC sayonara party

 

 

 

In the mid 1980’s, Jolanda and I were still University Students. We did not have a lot of money, but all the money that I earned by teaching Dutch to Japanese expats, Japanese to Dutch students and translating for the “King of Japanese Brothels”, who wanted to open a brothel in the Red-Light District in Amsterdam, we spent on Budo.

We trained Kendo, Iaido and Jodo as much as we could, and my first-generation students in all three disciplines started training with me in this period. (See Lineage).

In 1984, we invited Edo Sensei and Iijima Sensei to Amsterdam. We were still living in our small, two room apartment, so the two Sensei had to sleep in the living room. Japanese are used to live in small houses, so this was never a problem, and we all had a great time, combining Kendo and sightseeing.

Because we wanted to have our own Kendo/Iaido/Jodo Club, and separate from the Karate Club Shinbuken, I asked Edo Sensei for a name for my Dojo.

There is a very famous Dojo in Japan, called Museido.  It was a Dojo in Kanazawa, which was later moved to Nagoya to function as a kind of museum. Because of my strong connection with Kanazawa, Edo Sensei came up with the name Museido, which we have been using ever since.

Edo Sensei in Amsterdam 1984

 

 

Jolanda and I were also deeply involved in the activities of the Nederlandse Kendo Renmei, NKR.

I was appointed Technical Commissioner, and Jolanda took care of the ordering of Kendo equipment. We had a good relationship with Hitachi Budogu, a small Kendo shop in Ibaraki Prefecture, and they even sponsored the NKR Kendo Team on some events.

We organized Seminars with Iijima Sensei and Ishido Sensei’s Group, Regular Central Trainings and also Kendo/Iaido/Jodo tournaments.

In our first apartment in Amsterdam, May 1986.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After my return from Japan in 1982 till I started working for Nippon Express in 1988, I spend many hours teaching in various Dojo in The Netherlands.

I was teaching regularly in Heerlen, where Rene Bonne and Guido Minnaert were my students.

Working on the Kendo Book with Henk Oosterling in Rotterdam every week brought me to teaching in Fumetsu Dojo from 1982 till 1984.

I also taught in Groningen, where I trained with the founder of Shinbuken Groningen, Anton Kemmerling.

                                                                         Louis & Anton in Groningen                

In the background Willem Riesenkamp, now the Dojo Leader in Groningen

 

 

We were also active in participating in Budo demonstrations, to make our activities more known.

Niko Bijl and Dick Lindhout, unfortunately both no longer alive, were one of my first Kendo/Iaido/Jodo students in Amsterdam.

Niko and Dick showing off in Amsterdam Osdorp

Louis open air Iaido Enbu: look at the length of my sword!

 

 

 

From December 1985 till February 1986, Jolanda and I spend a few weeks training in Japan. We trained in Kanazawa University with Edo Sensei, Shimodate Dai Ichi High School with Iijima Sensei, Shinbukan Dojo with Ishido Sensei and the Shiseikan Dojo of the late Takizawa Kozo Sensei. Nakakura Sensei also took us to the famous Saineikan Dojo, which is the Dojo of the Imperial Police, inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Here Jolanda could not train because the training was only for male Kenshi, but after the training Nakakura Sensei arranged a short trip through the Imperial Palace Grounds with a big imperial limousine. At this time we were staying in Otake Sensei’s house, and he was very jealous of our direct access to Nakakura Sensei and the trip to the Palace. During this trip we trained Kendo, Iaido and Jodo, almost every day with very little sightseeing. 

Jolanda also participated in the Ibaraki Prefecture Katei Fuji Taikai, which is a Kendo tournament for amateur ladies. Only the opponent of the final was stronger than Jolanda, so she ended with a second place. The Ibaraki Kendo Federation President mentioned Jolanda’s suberb Kendo in his closing speech, and he was happy that the local lady won it, otherwise Jolanda would have had to represent Ibaraki at the all Japan Katei Fuji Taikai!

 

 

Winter 1985 in Ishioka at Iijima Sensei

 

 

Louis and Iijima Sensei making Mochi

Louis and Jo at Furuya Sensei’s Dojo, winter 1985

 

Winter 1985 Kanazawa was very cooooold!

 

 

Louis and Jolanda at Takizawa Sensei’s Dojo

 

 

 

 

Nakakura Sensei watching Louis in Imperial Palace Dojo

Louis tries Men in Imperial Palace Dojo

 

 

 

 

After Keiko in Imperial Palace with Tajima Sensei, Nakakura Sensei and Kato Sensei

 

 

Jolanda won 2nd place at Ibaraki Katei Fujin Taikai 1986

 

 

 

Although I was the first Dutch Kendoka who won Fighting Spirit Prizes in World- and European  Tournaments, the first real results came in 1986, when the Dutch Kendo Team got 3rd place in the European Kendo Championships in the UK.

In 1987 we organized the first international Kendo Seminar with Iijima Sensei, and this was the Seminar that finally developed into the NKR Summer Seminar with Nabeyama Sensei of recent years.

Because Iijima Sensei has a very well-respected reputation in the Ibaraki Prefecture Kendo Renmei, we could also organize Kendo seminars with some high-ranking Sensei from Ibaraki Prefecture. Especially Miyamoto Sensei (†), 8th Dan Hanshi and president of Ibaraki Prefecture Kendo Federation and Takasaki Sensei, 8th Dan Hanshi became close friends with the NKR Kendo members.

In 1987 I met Mr. Kumagai, the Managing Director of Nippon Express Nederland. He was a founding member of the Nippon Express Kendo Club, and he joined Museido to practice Kendo with us. Even though he was only a 4th dan Kendo, and already in his early fifties,  he was a very experienced tournament player, so training with him was always a great pleasure. We became good friends, and in June 1988 he asked me if I was interested in joining Nippon Express Nederland. I said yes immediately, and I never left the company until my retirement  in 2018.

In August 1988 Jolanda and I decided to get married, and invited Edo Sensei as witness to the official part of the wedding ceremony. Of course we combined this with many Kendo trainings, and especially Jolanda’s level of Kendo was growing to a very high level.

Kumagai Sempai, Louis, Jolanda, Edo Sensei

 

Edo Sensei as witness at our wedding

 

Edo Sensei and the Happy Couple

 

 

 

 

In 1989, we felt confident enough to organize the European Kendo Championships in Amsterdam. Fortunately Iijima Sensei helped us a lot in managing the official delegation from Japan and the tournament was a great success for the NKR as well: Sergio Velasquez made it to 3rd place in the men’s individual tournament.

In this tournament, the European Kendo Federation organized the first official Ladies Division. Jolanda had been going through a gruesome training period with Iijima Sensei before the tournament in Amsterdam, and she won this first official Ladies Kendo European Kendo Tournament in a fantastic manner.

Jolanda receives the first European Ladies Championships Award

 

 

In 1989 Iijima Sensei and his wife, son, mother and father in law came to visit us, and we visited Paris.

Still a famous story in the Iijima family: in Paris Iijima and I tried some special fried fish. The next day we both had diarrhea when we had to stand in line for the Louvre Museum.

 

 

Iaido Jodo Developments

 

In 1981 I was training Kendo at Kanazawa University. One day Edo Sensei told me to come to the Dojo early next morning, without Bogu and only with a Bokken.

Of course I thought that we were going to do Kendo Kata. I had already experienced Kendo Kata with Edo Sensei, which was completely different from what I had learned so far. His approach to Kendo Kata was “ Shinken Shobu” (real fight), and once he tried to surprise me in Kata Number 2, where Uchidachi is supposed to attack Kote, with a Katate Men to the side of my head. Fortunately I was able to deflect it with Suriage Men, which caused a big grin on Sensei’s face.

I was in the Dojo on time, only with my Bokken. Edo Sensei appeared in the Dojo with a wooden stick, and he told me to take Chudan no Kamae. The next thing I remember was that my Bokken was flying through the Dojo behind me, for many meters! It was outside the Shiaijo that we were in, so it must have been more than 10 meters. I asked “Sensei, what is this?”. He replied: “this is Jodo. How do you like it?”.

Then I remembered that I read about Jodo in Donn Draeger’s books on Japanese Martial Arts. I had never seen it in real life, and never felt the impact of a “Hikiotoshi Uchi”, the technique that Sensei used to hit my Bokken. I was so impressed with it, that I asked Sensei to teach me this art.

 

 

Edo Sensei had learned Jodo from Hamaji Sensei, a student of the famous Shimizu Sensei, and also holding the highest diploma of the Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo, a so called Menkyo Kaiden.

The first publication of Seitei Jodo by Shimizu Sensei Hanshi 9th Dan

For Edo Kokichi, signed Shimizu Takaji 9th Dan Hanshi

 

 

As can be seen in this book, which I got from Edo Sensei during my visit in April 2019, Edo Sensei and his teacher visited Shimizu Sensei’s Dojo and practiced Jodo there!

Edo Sensei holds a 6th Dan Renshi in Jodo and he explained to me his motivation to learn Jodo.

Because of his ambition to become one of the strongest Kendo players in Japan, he found that Jodo could support this. The way you can hit the sword with a kind of sliding technique, and the Taiatari from left and right side, and the fact that you use techniques both on the left and right side, were Edo Sensei’s motivation to start Jodo training.

During my one year stay in Kanazawa he taught me all the Kihon moves and the twelve Kendo Renmei Kata. We trained three to four times per week, so after one year I had made a big progress.

 

Louis and Edo Sensei doing Shinto Ryu and Jodo in 1981

 

 

 

Jolanda and Bert Heeren could never seriously train Jodo…..it always ended like this!

 

 

 

 

After my return from Japan in 1982 I started to organize Jodo seminars in Holland. Hein Odinot and Koos van Hattum were also there!

Niko Bijl, Richard Boel, Dick Lindout, Andre Raboen, Wil Abels on one of my first Jodo Seminars in Holland.

 

 

I have known Jock Sensei since the 1970’s and we invited him to teach Kendo and Iaido many times

 

 

In 1983, my long time Kendo friend and Sempai Jock Hopson asked me to join the Iaido and Jodo seminar that he organized in the UK. At this seminar, Ishido’s father, Hiroi Sensei and Ishido Sensei were the head teachers. Because I had already learned the Jodo Kata in 1981, and could speak Japanese, I was assisting Hiroi Sensei in demonstrating the Kata and translating his teaching at the same time.

Because I was performing the Kata with Hiroi Sensei during his explanation, my own Jodo made a big improvement.

Although I had received Iaido teaching from several very famous Iaido teachers (remember my first Iaido teacher was no one else than the famous Nakakura Sensei, and my second teacher was Haga Sensei!), I did not have a proper Sensei for Iaido.

Fortunately, Ishido Sensei, who had already been teaching Jock, Vic, Len and Loi in the UK for a few years, was so kind to accept me as one of his European Deshi. Since then Ishido Sensei has helped me with achieving all my Iaido and Jodo Dan Grades.

After consulting with Jock, we also invited Ishido Sensei’s group to The Netherlands. In 1984 we organized the first Iaido Jodo Summer Seminar, in Krommenie. On this first occasion we were able to get 35 people to join the seminar, and this number grew year by year.

During the Seminars with Ishido Sensei’s group, we also organized international Iaido and Jodo Tournaments.

I participated in all Jodo Tournaments as a player, and from Mudan Division to Yondan & Godan Division I managed to win all the Shiai that I participated in.

Later these Tournaments would grow into the official European Iaido and Jodo Tournaments.

First Eishinkan Taikai 1986. Wil Abels and I won Shodan Division, Jo and Jos won Mudan Division.

 


The first group of Iaido & Jodo in Museido Amsterdam.

Rear Line: Rene van Amersfoort, Dick Lindhout, Richard Boel, Arno Adelaars, Niko Bijl, Wil Abels.

Front Line: Jolanda, Louis, Ishido Sensei

Louis, Hiroi Sensei, Ishido Sensei at one of the first Seminars in Holland

 

 

 

 

From 1984, I was very active in promoting Kendo, Iaido and Jodo in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

I set up a Iaido beginners course in cooperation with the Zendokan Magazine, a Martial Arts Magazine. We had participants from Holland and Belgium.

Already in the 1980’s Jock and Louis were teaching together

 

 

In 1984 I was a kind of “missionary”, busy to promote the teachings of my Japanese teachers in Europe. Because I had competition from Iaido and Jodo outside the Kendo Federation, I asked Hiroi Sensei to write a letter of recommendation, stating that Jodo in The Netherlands should be developed by the NKR, under me.

Hiroi Sensei’s introduction letter in Zendokan Magazine

 

 

English translation of Hiroi Sensei’s letter:

My teacher Shimizu Takaji (ZNKR Jodo Hanshi), always mentioned to us that he wanted to develop Jodo all over the world, but he passed away when he was 81 years old.

I was waiting for an opportunity to teach Jodo to foreigners, as was Shimizu Sensei’s wish, when I was approached by Ishido Sensei (BKA Iaido teacher), to join him on a Iaido and Jodo Seminar in the UK. This was my first opportunity to meet with Jodo enthusiasts within the Iaido group in the UK, and I was very impressed with their eagerness. Iaido started there with just three persons five years ago, but now there are two hundred Iaidoka. So I am indeed convinced that all Budo (Kendo, Iaido, Jodo), if they are organized in the Kendo Federations, we can see a great development.

Being one of the students of my teacher who received the highest Jodo diploma (Menkyo Kaiden), I am aware of my responsibility to teach the traditional Jodo to foreigners. Therefore, if there are people in The Netherlands who want to learn Jodo, they should join the Nederlandse Kendo Renmei. Fortunately in The Netherlands the accomplished Louis Vitalis is living, so I would like the Jodo to be organized around him.

Hiroi Tsunetsugu

Jodo Kyoshi 8 dan

Kendo Kyoshi 7 dan

Iaido Kyoshi 7 dan

 

 

Second Iaido Jodo Seminar with Ishido Sensei and Hiroi Sensei in Holland, 1985

 

 

Jolanda and I also started to teach Iaido and Jodo in Belgium.

One of my first students there, Jean Trembloy was kind enough to dig up some old pamphlets and foto’s of the earliest seminars in Belgium.

Pamphlet for one of the first Iaido Jodo Seminars in Belgium, of course the prices are in Belgian Francs!

 

 

Jolanda and Louis teaching Iaido in Belgium 1987

 

 

 

 

Ishido Sensei and Louis in a serious discussion

 

 

Hiroi Sensei explaining some interesting stuff, translated by me

Who can you recognize?

 

Jolanda & Louis demonstrating Tanjo around 1986

 

 

During our stay from December 1985 till February 1986,  Jolanda and I spend a few weeks in Kawasaki and Tokyo to deepen our Jodo training. We stayed in Otake Sensei’s house for a week and in that time we trained directly with Hiroi Sensei in Tokyo and learned Omote, Chudan, Shinto Ryu and Uchida Ryu Tanjojutsu. I will never forget how HIroi Sensei demonstrated Hojo Jutsu with a Tanjo and a rope, hidden inside his Keikogi. This happened during the Wednesday afternoon training in Shinbuken Ishido Dojo, which was a kind of elite training for 7th Dan only, to which we were allowed to join. Present were Ishido’s father, mother, Aoki Sensei, Ishido himself of course, and Hiroi Sensei. HIroi Sensei told me to do the Tachi side of Tanjo Ushiro Zue, but when he controlled my elbow with the Tanjo, he kept pushing down, until I was with my face flat on the floor!

Then, without me being able to see it, he pulled out the thin rope from inside his Keikogi, and within two or three seconds he tightened my hands behind my back, with a kind of loop figure of the rope. Then he told me to get up and walk away. After three steps he pulled the rope, and the loop around my neck immediately tightened so hard that I could not take any more steps. I even had difficulty breathing normally!

Because Jolanda only learned the Tachi side and I learned the Jo side, we could learn many Koryu Kata in a short time, and after we returned to Amsterdam we shared this with the other people in the Dojo.

 

 

 

Besides teaching in the Netherlands, I also started to teach in Belgium and Germany. Many of my students of the early 1980’s have either passed away or have stopped training, but the ones that are still active are now 6th or 7th Dan and are teachers in their own countries.

I met Karl Dannecker through Kendo in 1984, when we organized an Amsterdam – Hannover Kendo event. My first Iaido Seminar in Germany was in Hannover, in April 1987. When Karl moved to Villingen later in 1987 we soon started to organize Iaido and Jodo seminars in Villingen, and many Germans joined our Ishido Seminars in the Netherlands from this time as well. Before the Deutsche Jodo Bund was founded, the German Jodoka were mostly members of the NKR, because it was not organized within the Deutsche Kendo Bund (DKenB).

 

 

In 1988, when the Ishido Group was doing the Seminar in The Netherlands, Ishido Sensei, Hiroi Sensei, Aoki Sensei and others joined Jolanda and me on a belated Honeymoon. We went by train to Koblenz, took a Rhine river cruise and visited Rotenberg ob der Tauber, which is a must see for Japanese tourists, who visit the “Romantische Strasse” in Germany.

Although Hiroi Sensei was known to be a very strict and serious teacher at our seminars, during our Honeymoon he was very relaxed and extremely funny! We had many great laughs on the deck of the cruise ship, where Hiroi Sensei was telling jokes and acting funny.

Ishido Sensei and Aoki Sensei joining our honeymoon

Honeymoon 1988

 

 

 

Article Kendo Nippon 1987 in which Hiroi Sensei explains about Jodo

Translation Hiroi Sensei Interview Kendo Nippon September 1987

Jodo can be used in all kinds of Budo

I started Jodo in 1951. During that time I was still employed as a regular police officer (in Tokyo) and Shimizu Takaji Sensei was just starting up Jodo Seminars for us.

I joined these seminars, and Shimizu Sensei told me to do my best in training with the Jo. I still don’t know whether he was just being friendly or whether he recognized my aptitude for Jodo, but I decided to join Shimizu Sensei’s seminars.

I was trying to become a Kendo teacher at the police, so I was training Kendo very hard, but in 1956 I became Keijojutsu (police stick art) teacher for metropolitan police. Yoneno Kotaro was one of my colleagues.

Of course I started Jodo from a professional point of view, but it was the fantastic technique and personality of Shimizu Sensei that really attracted me to the Jo.

In the beginning I had no idea about Jodo and I did have some doubts at first. However on the other hand it was really interesting.

In those days there were very few people training Jodo, and you cannot compare it to present day.

The most basic point of Jodo is to take the initiative (Sen) when hitting the opponent (Tachi). This point is very beneficial for Kendo. Shimizu Sensei always told us that Jodo would be very good for our Kendo development, and learned a lot about this when actually facing an opponent.

Also in Jodo there is a saying: “when you thrust it is a spear, when you sweep it is a naginata, when you hold it is a sword. So you can use these principles in Spear, Naginata and Sword techniques as well.

Because movement in Jodo is front, back, left, right, it will be very beneficial for your Taisabaki and breathing technique.

In modern society, it is better not to focus too much on one thing only, but try to get proficient in various things. “Budo no Kokoro” can be applied in everything.

Getting Dan grades is not the only purpose of Budo, but if you train the three arts: Kendo, Iaido, Jodo, you can advance your Dan grades simultaneously and get a deeper understanding on each of them. I am also teaching outside Japan and it is very beneficial that I know all three arts.

In most countries all three arts are taught. Someone who only knows Kendo, cannot answer any question about Iaido or Jodo. For every art, the specialist knows best.

I am now 8th Dan Hanshi in Jodo, and other people will not teach me anything. Therefore, my training is to keep the teachings of Shimizu in mind, and train and study as if I were a beginner.

 

 

 

Article Kendo Nippon 1987 in which Ishido Sensei explains about Jodo

Translation Ishido Sensei interview Kendo Nippon September 1987

It’s better to learn Jodo bearing in mind the differences.

I started Jodo when I was in Junior High School, which is exactly 30 years ago. My father simply told me that I had to understand Jodo. I was already training Kendo and Iaido, and I was wondering why it was necessary to learn about Jodo. Now I finally begin to realize why.

In Kendo you wear a Bogu, and in  Iaido you have a real sword but no opponent. However, in Jodo you don’t wear a Bogu, but you still train with an opponent and you must learn to correctly cut, strike, take distance and prepare your attack (Semekomi).

Because you don’t wear a Bogu, it is vital that you hit correctly and try to stop the hit correctly. You will understand this clearly when you practice Kendokata. If you wear a Bogu you can feel safe, but if you hit actually on head or wrist, it is necessary to stop your hit in a correct way.

Even Kendo 5th Dan and 6th Dan people cannot stop their hit with the Jo right on target. They tend to use the arms and hand only, and the Jo will tremble at the end of the hit. Of course one is worried about getting injured, so it is difficult to correctly judge how far one can go. Especially in Kendokata this is important. Because one is worried about injury, the actual hit to the head is only done at 70%, and this destroys the original deep meaning of Kendokata.

In Jodo this principle is still preserved in detail. Hits and thrusts are done with full force, and this is very beneficial for Kendo practice. If you make a small mistake with the Jo, you may end up with a broken fingernail, or even a broken bone. So this is a very fine Budo, in which you can train sincerely and hard.

So in my case, I use it to complement my Kendo and Iaido.

For everyone who is member of a Kendo federation, at least knowing about the 3 arts would be nice.

Being proficient or not doesn’t matter, but learning something else is always recommendable.

So if you have one main art, you can use the other two arts to make your main art more complete. Takizawa Kozo Sensei (Kendo 8th Dan Hanshi from Kanagawa) used to say: “Kendo is hitting and Iaido is cutting. But Kendoka can learn a lot from Iaido.”

Learning another art while understanding the differences is most important. There will never be a negative influence on your training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ishido Sensei also asked Matsuoka Sensei to come over. Now the Shinkage Ryu is well established in Europe.

The only two non-Japanese triple Nanadan on one of our many trips in Japan.

 

In November 1989 Jolanda and I also practiced in Shinbukan Ishido Dojo in Kawasaki, where Hiroi Sensei was teaching us Jodo Koryu.

 

Hiroi Sensei teaching us Neya no Uchi from Shindo Muso Ryu Omote Waza

1972 – 1979

In the early Seventies, there were only 2 channels on TV, and for us young kids, it was normal to spend most of our time playing outside. In those days, Anton Geesink was already very famous as a Judo player, so Judo was quite popular in our country.

One of the boys in our street, Bert, with whom I used to play soccer outside, joined a Judo Club in Amsterdam. When I was about 13 years old, I decided to join that club as well. In those days there was a kind of Dutch Jujitsu system, which was loosely based on Japanese Jujitsu, and our teacher, Dijkshoorn Sensei, taught both disciplines to us.

Louis at the age of 15.

I enjoyed the practice a lot and moved through the Kyu Grade system until I reached 1st Kyu when I was 15. Because I was the smallest person in the Club, it was very hard for me to really beat the older and much bigger and stronger guys. Of course, the Bruce Lee films made the weapons such as Nunchaku and Bo very popular, and I build a whole collection of mostly Okinawa Kobudo weapons, such as Nunchaku, Bo, Sai and Tonfa.

Dijkshoorn Sensei once showed us a Kendo Bogu, and I was much intrigued by it. I bought a Shinai and a book on Kendo and started reading about it. I hung the Shinai on the wall above my bed and dreamt about Kendo.

 

In 1975 I met Jolanda, who was in the same class as me in our high school. I was 16, Jolanda was 17.

As you can see from the picture, she was a very beautiful girl, and I had a lot of competition of other boys, whom I had to overcome in order to win her over.

Because we were sitting next to each other during some classes, we did not always pay attention to what the teacher was saying.

Once our Physics teacher said: “your relation might be very happy on the school yard, but here in the class room you’re not paying any attention to what I’m saying!”.

I told all my students that I would never show this picture. Just 16 years old, a few months after I met Jolanda. The last of the hippies!

 

Jolanda & Louis already with a bit shorter hair in 1975.

 

Louis’ room around 1976: on the wall Nakayama Hakudo Sensei, Jolanda making fun of my Kendo Kiai

 

In the days before Internet and Social Media, it was not so easy to find information about where Kendo was practiced, so it took me till March 1976 before I found the Kendo Club where Willem Alexander was teaching Kendo. Willem Alexander was one of the first Kendoka in The Netherlands, together with our honorary President Hein Odinot he was one of the very few persons who knew enough about Kendo to teach a group. Willem Alexander, Jaques Bouma, Jacques van der Linden ( I still meet him at Jodo seminars, which he is still joining!) and me were the guys who practiced regularly.

In one of my first practices as a beginner, I went to a central training where Hein Odinot was teaching. I believe Hein was the only 2nd Dan in the Netherlands. I still had no Bogu, and was training Kendo footwork.

Jolanda was watching me during this training. After the training was finished her comment was: “what a stupid, boring thing to do!”. It took her two and a half years to realize that Kendo wasn’t so bad, and she joined our trainings under Willem Alexander in November 1978.

For more than a year I trained Judo/Jujutsu and Kendo, but I chose for Kendo when I joined the first big Kendo Seminar in Europe, which was organized in Papendal in April 1977.

By this time I found out that there was another Kendo group in Amsterdam. Ralf Oquendo and Ed Roosterman were training Kendo in the Karate Dojo of Kallenbach Sensei in Amsterdam, which was called Shinbuken. I practiced in both Clubs for a few years, until we merged in one Kendo Club, under the name of Shinbuken.

The Papendal Seminar was the first major Pan European Kendo seminar, and some very famous Kendo Sensei from Japan were there: Nakakura Kyoshi Sensei (the modern-day Miyamoto Musashi he was called), Ishihara Sensei, Oka Sensei and Matsunaga Sensei.

I will never forget that Nakakura Sensei taught us the first five kata from Muso Shinden Ryu Omori, so this was also the beginning of my Iaido career!

The Papendal Seminar was limited to several participants per country, and since I was just a beginner, I got permission at the last moment from the NKR to join it.

The Sensei of the Papendal Seminar 1977

 

Participants to the Papendal Seminar.

 

From the photo album of my good friend Jacques van de Linden: the early days with Louis and Willem Alexamder in the Piet Mondriaanstraat, Amsterdam.

Above: Louis and Willem Alexander
Below: Jacques Bouma and Louis

 

In the Summer of 1977, I was still a high school student, I saved up enough money to go on my first trip to Japan. Together with Ed and Roelof Roosterman we went to Japan for about a month.

The first two weeks we joined the Kitamoto Gashuku, which was a special training camp for foreigners. The one of 1977 was only the second time it was organized, but it is still held every year.

I spend half a day training Iaido, under Haga Sensei, and half a day Kendo under various sensei. After two weeks I passed both Kendo and Iaido Shodan.

Probably, with the level that I had at that time, one would not even pass 1st Kyu nowadays, but the Japanese were so happy that a young European was practicing Kendo and Iaido, they let me pass my Shodan anyway.

After the Kitamoto Seminar, Ed, Roelof and me went to spend a week at Edo Sensei’s house in Tokyo. Edo Sensei was assistant at the Physical Education Department of Tokyo University, and he was trainer of the Kendo Club there.

At that time I had just turned 18, so Edo Sensei was just 38 years old and still competing for the All Japan Kendo Tournament. At the All Japan Kendo Tournament, Edo sensei was often with the best 4 or best 8 players, so you can imagine the level at which he was training in the days when we first met him.

Being an unexperienced, young European Kendoka, I had no idea who Edo sensei was, and at what level he was doing Kendo. I will never forget my first 5 minutes Keiko with him. Here’s me, a cocky 18-year-old, just passed Shodan Kendo, against this very small Japanese Kendo player. How could I not hit him easily? We came up from Sonkyo, I gave a loud Kiai (at least I could do that properly!), and the next thing I know is that my hands are empty. Where is my Shinai? I looked around, and there it was, a few meters behind me.

I went to pick it up, took my Kamae, gave a loud Kiai, and the next second, I stood without Shinai again. This situation repeated for a few times. I don’t remember even attempting a hit, I only remember me picking up my Shinai from the floor.

We all three stayed at Edo Sensei’s small house in Tokyo, and we had our private training with him for about a week. My first encounter with Edo Sensei made such a big impression on me, that I decided to learn Kendo from him. More than 40 years later, I still think it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my entire life.

Although most Japanese top Kendo players and high-ranking teachers start Kendo at a very early age (sometimes at kindergarten age!), the fact that I started at 16 years of age has been a great advantage in my Budo career. There were only very few Yudansha when I started, so owing to my young age and many years of training in Japan, I was the highest-ranking person in Kendo, Iaido and Jodo by the end of the 1980’s in The Netherlands.

 

 

In April 2019, I visited Edo Sensei’s house, and he explained me in great detail how he started Kendo and with what kind of Kendo Giants he was practicing as a young man.

In 1961, as a 4th Year Student at Chukyo University, he was already allowed to attend the First All Japan Kendo Teachers Study Group. On this photo, Edo is 4th from the left on the first row. We can see famous Sensei such as Nakano, Sato, Watanabe, Haga.

The picture is signed on the right hand side with Nakano Yasuji, one of the very famous Sensei in the history of modern Kendo.

Of course in 1977, at 18 years old, I had no idea what kind of a Kendo Giant I was dealing with, I would only realize this many, many years later!

Hilversum 1977: Louis (Kendo Shodan) and Jaques van der Linden showing Kendokata

 

Hilversum 1977: Louis  (Iaido Shodan) showing Seitei Iai

 

In 1979 the Kendo World Championships were held in Sapporo. By this time I was 19 years old and just finished High School.

Before the Taikai, I spend almost three months at Edo Sensei’s new work place, Kanazawa University.

During this visit I could already speak some basic Japanese, which I had taught myself from books and cassette tapes. Edo Sensei taught me one of the most important lessons in my Budo career:

“Katei Enman” means to have a harmonious, stable and peaceful private life. Without a stable situation in your private life outside the Dojo, it is impossible to achieve the best results from your training. If you have too much stress, you cannot focus on your training in a proper way, and it will be impossible to continue a lifelong career in Budo. 40 years later I still remember this lesson from Edo Sensei, and I fully believe that it is a true statement.

Louis (left) Edo Sensei (right) Kanazawa 1979

 

 

Besides being my Kendo teacher, Edo Sensei also taught me many things about Japanese Customs, Culture and how to behave as a proper human being. One visit that made a deep impression on me was to the Eiheiji Temple, the main center of Zen Buddhism in Japan.

Louis and Edo Sensei family at Eiheiji Temple, 1979

 

I trained together with the students, and I learned to do Kakarigeiko. After this I joined the Dutch Kendo Team for the Taikai. Because I was able to stand for more than 4 minutes in a Shiai with a Japanese 7th Dan, I was awarded the Fighting Spirit Price. I was still a Shodan during the Taikai.

Dutch Team WKC 1979, Sapporo.

19-year-old Louis, with beard on the far right, award ceremony.

 

After training in Kanazawa, I also spend a week at one of Edo Sensei’s students, Watanabe Kaoru Sensei, who is now 8th Dan Kendo. Watanabe Sensei was Kendo Teacher at the Chubu University, and later also visited Amsterdam with his students.

 

Watanabe Sensei and me in Chubu University

 

In this period I also met Iijima Sensei for the first time. He was Physical Education Teacher at Shimodate nr. 1 High School, and trainer of the Kendo Club there. Edo Sensei had introduced me to Iijima Sensei telling him that I spoke very good Japanese. However, in those days my Japanese language skills were still very basic, so our conversations took forever, using a dictionary. We spent till 2 in the morning explaining basic Kendo stuff, such as Heijoshin, Zanshin, Shishin etc etc.

Iijima Sensei had just turned 30 years old, and lived in a very small house (maybe 40 m2?) close to the school grounds. Because of my passion to learn Kendo and his passion to teach it, we developed a close relationship from the start.

Iijima Sensei, Sumie and Sumie’s parents in 1979

 

I will never forget the Kitamoto Seminar of 1979. Iijima Sensei was picking me up after the Seminar, so he joined the final Jigeiko. In this Seminar, the whole Korean Kendo Team was participating, and they soon found out what a fantastic Kendoka Iijima Sensei was. The whole team was lining up for Keiko with Iijima Sensei, and for one hour he fought all of them. I don’t think any of them was able to get an Ippon on him, and I clearly remember that he was all over them for one hour, without slowing down for even one second.

Of course much later I found out that Iijima Sensei was a very high-level Kendo player, and even All Japan High School Teacher Champion! He was also a member of the Ibaraki Kendo Team on prefectural Tournaments, which he continued till well in his forties.

 

 

A very young Iijima Sensei scores Ippon with Hanmen at the Kokutai Taikai 1974.

 

Iijima (yes that’s him!) and Miyamoto Sensei celebrate the 1974 victory for Ibaraki.

 

Young and Handsome Iijima Sensei

 

During this period I did not have a formal Iaido teacher. I was taught during the Kitamoto Seminars, and on some of the rare Iaido trainings that were held in Europe with Japanese delegations. In 1979 I did my Kendo and Iaido 2nd Dan exam in Kitamoto. As far as I know, Iaido Dan grades were still a very rare thing in Europe at that time.

Two Sensei that helped me a lot during this time were Tanaya Sensei and Yamashibu Sensei, who visited Europe and taught us Iaido.

Tanaya Sensei, 8th Dan Hanshi, teaching at ZNKR Iai Seminar in 1987

Yamashibu Sensei, second from the left on one of his trips to Europe

 

Louis Iaido 1979