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Author: Sjoerd

Kendo beyond borders

A few years ago we’ve took it upon ourselves to improve our kendo and the relationships with other dojo and kenshi in the Netherlands as well as dojo and kenshi beyond our borders. Knokken & Wokken (First a fight, then a bite) is one of those initiatives as is the koryu seminar and regular visits to other dojo. Chrétien visited our friends at St. Gallen last winter and again, this time accompanied by Bink sensei, in April. I visited Sergio at Bun Bu Ichi on my Holiday in Aruba and had a truly wonderful time.



Touchdown was at roughly 20:00 on Friday night. Now this is not a major airport like Schiphol or Heathtrow so after a very short walk we could collect our bags and headed outside. We start wearing shorts and all sorts of summer clothing when the temperature reaches 21° so the first thing you notice when you step outside that it’s hot, 32° hot. After being dropped off by a cab at our house for the next 12 days we had a snack and went to bed. The next day, still a bit (perhaps a lot) jet lagged and getting used to 30°+ weather I got picked up for my first kendo session in Aruba. The people are all very friendly (you see ‘Aruba, one happy Island’ signs everywhere and they’re spot on) and the dojo is really something else. Born and mostly raised in the Netherlands I’m used to buildings having windows and such. Imagine stepping inside a dojo with no actual windows but shutters instead, a slight (and for me much need) breeze can be felt, it was truly the start of an amazing experience. We started with kata, in those temperatures not an easy task. Regular training started after kata, finishing with some nice jigeiko. It was a wonderful experience and one of the most difficult trainings I’ve ever had. As time went on and the heat slowly(I wish) started to get to me all I could think about was keep a straight posture, keep your kensen in the center and don’t embarrass yourself or your sensei especially since Valasquez sensei is an old member of KKDH and a friend of Bink Sensei. I somehow made it to the end of training.

On Monday I attended the second training after a day of s.u.p. No kata this time but among other things Tokuren inspired exercises. The heat didn’t bother me as much as it did on Saturday and all things considering I was pretty happy with my kendo. I had to skip training on Wednesday due to a, or actually the wedding since that was the whole reason I was in Aruba. Unfortunately I had to skip training on Saturday as well due to an inflamed eye…….. By Monday I was good to go and ready to enjoy my final training at Bun Bu Ichi. I was in luck as the wife of Valasquez sensei just returned from a week long kendo camp in the USA. Now I’ve met Valasquez sensei once before in the Netherlands when he visited our dojo and I was quite impressed. I’m the average height of a Dutch woman, problem is, I’m a guy. Valasquez sensei is a quite a bit taller and fast with explosive movements, so yeah, impressive. His wife is roughly the same height as me, a tad smaller even but just as impressive. I poured my heart and soul in my kendo that day, gave everything I had to give plus a little extra. I enjoyed myself immensely, received some pointers, praise and kind words that certainly helped me in my preparation for my sandan exam. I want to thank all of the members of Bun Bu Ichi and Valasquez sensei in particular who made my stay unforgettable. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to see you in the (near) future.




Every year during Pentecost a spring seminar is held in Oldenburg Germany, roughly a three hour car ride from KKDH. This year we decided to attend the seminar with a group of KKDH kenshi. Unfortunately due to the recent attacks and heightened threat level the original group of Japanese sensei weren’t able to come to Germany. Instead of canceling the whole event they found Aoki sensei from Kokugikan Berlin who was willing to lead the shortened seminar. Friday night after a hellish drive full of traffic jams due to roadwork and traffic we finally made it to our destination. The next morning after a five minute walk from our guesthouse we arrived at the venue where we met up with Roelof. The seven KKDH samurai were ready for a day of kendo. I was slightly worried that my level of proficiency in German wouldn’t be sufficient to understand the finer points of explanations, or understand them at all. Fortunately for me as well as some of the others who shared the same concerns these concerns were unnecessary. For those who had some trouble a very nice German sensei explained things in English. Anyway after a morning of kendo it was time for lunch. This was all arranged by the organizers of the seminar, and was great with salads, bread, cake, applebread, fruit and more. After lunch the second half started only to end at 18:00 after which a BBQ arranged by the organizers was held at the youth hostel next door. Once again there was an abundant amount of food and beverages and great company. At 22:30 we called it a night and returned to our guest house for a night cap. The next day we had some problems starting up resulting in, to my horror, all of us getting to the venue late. We got changed and got ready for a morning full of kendo, our last part of the seminar. This too was highly enjoyable and we’ve all learned a great deal. After a “quick” shower we got ourselves some lunch at Kahn a Mongolian Chinese restaurant. The drive back took us about two hours less and in only three hours we were back at KKDH. We’ve had a great time and hopefully next year we’ll have a bigger group of KKDH kenshi attending the spring seminar in Oldenburg.

Thank you Seikenjuku Oldenburg for organizing such a great seminer. The hospitality, atmosphere and kendo was terrific, we’ll see you next year!

National kendo exams

National kendo exams were held on Sunday the 7th of May in Amsterdam. Among those participating in the exams was one of our own; Sjoerd. Sjoerd participated in the sandan exams. After two successful rounds of geiko it was on to the kata round after which all sandan candidates were congratulated since all of them passed.

3e dan Bram Verhaegh Julien Kavish Lubeek Dai Linh Nguyen Daan Pelger Sjoerd Kater


All those who passed, congratulations!

For those who didn’t make it, Gambatte!

Results of the Kendo exam of November 29th

A central training was held on the 29th of November with afterwards an exam up to sandan. Suraya was the only KKDH participant and passed with flying colours. With a pass rate of less than 43% quite an achievement. Congratulations Suraya!



Geert is the Dutch National Champion Youth

Read all about it here.

Jasper wins the Fighting Spirit award at the Dutch Kendo championships

Read the whole story here

Coverage of the Dutch Kendo Championships

The Dutch Kendo Championship took place in Amersfoort this year and was organized by Mokuseikan. Like always we gathered in front of the dojo early in the morning in Voorburg to carpool. Yes you read it right, not only do we use biodegradable shinai, we also carpool. It must be said, Raph was actually on time but of course Sjoerd was (slightly) late. The A4 was closed down and he had pics to prove it, or so he said. After loading our gear in the cars we left for Amersfoort.

After the obligatory speech from the Chairman of the NKR the youth tournament category 1 was off to a very cute start. Since there were quite a lot of kenshi enrolled in the tournament the group was split in category 1, from age 5 to 11 and category 2 age 12 and up. It was S. Saito who won her first national championship in category 1 in which no KKDH kenshi participated.

In their first national championship ever, Geert and Jasper fought for everlasting fame and fortune in category 2. Jasper fought like a lion but to no avail, his opponents were too strong and he did not make it out of the preliminary round. Geert made it all the way to the finals and went on to claim his first title as Dutch National Champion in a nerve racking match. He certainly earned his nickname the ‘crimson reaper’, although we’ll just keep naming him Geert. During the ceremony afterwards Jasper was awarded the well-deserved Fighting Spirit price. A great success for both kenshi and Kendo Kai Den Haag.


After the ceremony it was time for the female competitors to cross swords. That meant it was time for Suraya to compete. Would she fight well or bring shame upon the dojo in her first competition ever. She fought heroically but the odds were stacked against her favor. She was up against some really tough opponents who ultimately advanced and achieved second and third place. Suraya still had a second chance though later on that day. Fleur Smout (Fighting Spirit price during the WKC 2015) took first place in the female league.


The senior league (all those above the age of 17) kicked off after a short break which was devoted almost entirely to a second warm-up by the KKDH kenshi. Rapheal was up first in the first group on shiaijo B, would he be able to prove himself? He certainly did although it did not lead to him advancing to the next round. He had a very tough group, with among other the no. 2 of last and this year’s tournament. He knew it was going to be difficult but didn’t seem fazed. He went down fighting and in style.


Suraya made here second appearance during this championship during the senior league. She fought without hesitation, unfortunately this pool was also just a tad too strong. Nevertheless she showed an unwavering spirit and some proper kendo which gives great promise for the future.

Maurice, who’s always pitted against at least one woman nearly half his size (when you’re nearly two meters roughly half of the population is about half his size of course) fought his way through his group. With a lot less physical kendo compared to last year he was even able to score a point on the Dutch female champion. In the knockout phase of the tournament he met up with Y. Saito (yes reader, that’s a familiar name) and he suffered defeat but nevertheless did a fantastic job.

Chrétien, demonstrated some nice kendo during his matches as he seemingly advanced fairly easy to the knockout stage. Due to the number of participants he had to do an extra knockout shiai where he triumphed and advanced once again. He advanced in a steady pace only to be stopped in the 8th finals by a kenshi who spent several months in Japan and the current number three of this tournament. A very good and well deserved result

Sjoerd wasn’t sure until the night before if he’d participate in the Dutch Championships. A nasty injury sustained 8 days prior left him in pain and impossible to do any form of physical activity including kendo. After some chiropractic manipulation, dry-needling and several massages he found himself looking in disbelief at the board with the draw results at the championship on Sunday morning thinking ‘F#ck, I should have stayed home’ (or as the Dutch say, the courage sank in my shoes). But with some nice and offensive fighting (if I do say so myself) he was able to advance to the next round. Next up was the Dutch female champion who was beat in encho and his winning streak continued until the quarter finals where he met Joeri. Sjoerd knew defeating Joeri was a tall order, and he proved to be a bit too tall (2m+). But what a performance, making it all the way up to the quarterfinals. The Dutch Championship was ultimately won by Jouke from Renshinjuku.


Stan and Jasper’s parents were there for moral support. After all this excitement and fun we decide to grab a bite to eat. We decided on real Haute cuisine, after all, the fries were French at the McDonald’s in Soesterberg (yes, we know they have the oldest drive thru in the Netherlands). After all the waiting and fighting the food tasted delicious.

It was a very nice Dutch National Championship with first places going to kenshi from dojo Ren Bu Kan, Kendo Kai Den Haag and Renshinjuku. The attending group was proud of the achievements that were made by all kenshi from Kendo Kai Den Haag. We’ll be attending next year, we hope so do you!


Iijima cup

Afgelopen weekend vond de Iijima cup plaats, een tweedaags evenement met meer dan 170 kenshi van binnen en buiten europa. Uiteraard was Kendo Kai Den Haag present met een aantal kenshi en wisten ze goed partij te geven. Bennie eindigde na een mooie match als derde in de ikkyu divisie. De overige kenshi hebben allemaal goed gevochten maar wisten dit jaar geen finale plaats te bereiken. Niet zo vreemd wanneer je beseft dat een groot aantal teamleden van nationale ploegen aanwezig waren als voorbereiding op het WK later dit jaar in Japan.

Op de tweede dag kwam het Kendo Kai Den Haag team in actie. Zij wisten zich door de poulefase heen te knokken door o.a. een aantal Poolse teamleden te verslaan. Na ook de extra wedstrijd in de Knockout fase te hebben gewonnen vonden zij helaas hun Waterloo tegen een team met voornamelijk Engelse teamleden.

Op naar de Edo cup!


Iijima cup

The Iijima cup was held last weekend. This two-day event was attended by over 170 kenshi from different parts of the world. Obviously Kendo Kai Den Haag was present with a number of kenshi and showed just of what we are made of.

We had a number of kenshi competing in the Ikkyu division and saw some great matches. Bennie managed to come in third after a heroic battle against Hugo. Later on that day the kenshi with dan grades took up their shinai and fought with each other. The competition was fierce with a legion of national team members attending this years Iijima cup  probably as part of their preparation for the World Championship later on this year in Japan. As expected none of the Kendo Kai Den Haag kenshi made it to the finals.

The team championship took place on day two of the Iijima cup. After beating two teams, one of them consisting of some Polish team members we advanced to the first knockout round. Some great shiai later and we advanced once again where we unfortunately met our match against a team consisting partly out of GBR team members. We did have a lot of fun though and are looking forward to the Edo cup!

Annual Meeting & Clubtournament

The annual meeting will be held February 21st this year and a club tournament will be held directly after, giving the members an opportunity to compete against one another.

  • 10:00 – 12:00 Annual meeting
  • 12:00 – 12:45 Lunch
  • 13:00 – 17:00 Tournament
  • 19:30 Dinner at Kimchi (Rabbijn Maarsenplein)

You can sign up for the tournament and/or dinner by sending an e-mail to Eric or Sjoerd.

You’ve all received an e-mail with the exact details and documents.

First a Fight, Then a Bite

On Saturday February 7th at 11:45, quite a few Kendo Kai Den Haag kenshi gathered at the dojo to set off together to Amersfoort for ‘First a Fight, Then a Bite’ with Mokuseikan. The day started well as Sjoerd and Rapheal actually were on time for a change and the whole group could leave at the scheduled time.

Once we arrived we quickly put on our hakama and gi and of course put on our bogu as well. The beginners without bogu were hoisted into the clubbogu and additional Bogu Chretien brought along. After a brief explanation by Patrick (Mokuseikan) and the necessary formalities and warm up the two poules of beginners began their matches. Stan and Jasper fought well but unfortunately only Jasper advanced to the quarterfinals where he had to face Tristan. It was a beautiful match and although Jasper gave it his all Tristan prevailed and went on to the finals where he won first place. Jasper achieved a third place in his first ever shiai. The tournament was a great way for both Kendo Kai Den Haag kenshi to experience shiai for the first time.

In the other group of kenshi there were no fewer than six pools. We made use of a K&W factor. An ippon was worth less the higher ones grade is. For example, a Nidan who made an ippon got only 0.8 point, an ippon made by a 5th kyu was worth 2 points. This gave everyone a chance to fight his way to the knockout phase. The first two kenshi of the group went on anyway, the four best number threes also went through.

Everyone from Kendo Kai Den Haag and Mokuseikan fought for what they were worth. We saw great fights with sometimes very surprising results. After many shiai there were 16 men, or actually 15 men and one miss who went on to the knockout stage of the tournament. After completion, the quarter-finals were held followed by the semifinals where Rapheal took on Chrétien and Sjoerd took on Rogier (Mokuseikan). They were both very exciting shiai where eventually Rapheal and Sjoerd managed to defeat their opponents. The matches were close and they both only managed to make just one valid ippon on their opponent. They both progressed to the final round. Another exciting shiai, Rapheal took the lead but Sjoerd was able to even things out by also making an ippon. After a small delay the shiai started again and Rapheal scored a debana kote and thus claimed the first place during the first ever ‘First a Fight, Then a Bite’ event between Kendo Kai Den Haag and Mokuseikan.

During the presentation of the first prizes to Tristan and Rapheal the Fighting Spirit price winners were also announced.

In the beginners group Stefan from Mokuseikan was the much deserved winner.

In the other group, the Fighting Spirit prize went to Ghiven from Kendo Kai Den Haag.

This brought an end to the first part of the day and after having gone through the necessary formalities, the day continued in the All you can eat and drink restaurant. After a nice dinner we still had energy left to serenade Joris (KKDH), despite the fact that is was his birthday he was still present at the event. It was a very nice day with great fights, great food and a lot of new friends. For the majority of kenshi having to be a shinpan was a new and welcome experience. Mokuseikan, we’ll see you next year in The Hague for ‘First a Fight, then a Bite II’ .
Group photo


Not pictured but present nonetheless were Grace,  Joran and Suraya who couldn’t participate because they were injured. Thank you for joining in on the fun anyway and taking pictures the whole day.