My name is Rob Breedveld. I teach judo, karate, aikibudo and kobudo and have my own dojo in Gorinchem, the Netherlands. Through aikibudo I got my first experiences with Daito-ryu aiki jujutsu and I was fascinated by its techniques. I wanted to know more about this! At a certain moment I saw a video taped demonstration of Kondo Sensei. This captured my attention so much that I planned to go and train under his instruction.
After some research I found the address of his dojo. A first contact by fax, was followed by more faxes and I got permission to come and train at the Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Hombu/Shimbukan dojo. This was in 1997. Since then I returned to Tokyo on a regular basis. My last visit was in October 2003. During that visit I invited Kondo Sensei to come to the Netherlands. In January 2004 the plans were finalized on April 24 and 25.
Kondo Sensei gave a seminar on Daito-ryu aiki jujutsu. Through posters, folders and e-mails I had generated a lot of publicity. Since it was intended as an introductory Daito-ryu seminar, I wanted not too few but certainly not too many participans. Therefore I carefully selected the schools and dojo to contact. The result was about 90 enthusiastic students each day of the seminar. The group consisted mainly of aikibudoka but karateka, judoka and jiu-jitsuka also participated.
The first day of the seminar was dedicated to the 7 aiki that are an important part of the Ikkajo, the first 30 techniques. Kondo Sensei emphasized that these 7 aiki are not the only ones, there are many more. By demonstration and practice the 7 aiki were explaned to the students. Luckily there were no language problems. One of Kondo Sensei’s Belgian students, Bart van Maesschalck, who trained in Tokyo with Kondo Sensei for 6 years, translated everything from Japanese to Dutch. After a stay of 9 years in Japan, Bart returned to Belgium early April this year. Thus he could be present at this seminar. It wasn’t easy to translate and to be Uke at the same time, but he performed this double task admirably. Luckily two of my students, Niels van Willigen and Edwin van Gorsel, who have been to Tokyo with me twice, could take over his task as Uke sometimes.
The second day of the seminar about half of of the practitioners had not participated the day before. Therefore it was decided to quickly repeat the 7 aiki and then continue with other techniques. The 6 principles that should be an important part of every budo training were addressed. They are:
- Rei - bow to partner, courtesy. With this, no only the outer form, bowing is meant, but it mainly concerns the inner form, the correct way of behavior in order to protect yourself.
- Metsuke - eye contact.
- Ma Ai - distance.
- Kokyu - breathing.
- Kuzushi - breaking the balance of the opponent.
- Zanchin - alertness, awareness, and also giving everything you’ve got, one hundred percent commitment.
Kondo Sensei explained these principles through demonstrations of Ikkajo techniques. He also demonstrated some techniques from Nikajo, Sankajo and other sets of advanced techniques. During the seminar Kondo Sensei demonstrated with beginners and advanced students, people who were familiar with the techniques and people who were not and people with different body postures. He did this to make clear that the techniques are very efficient.
Because the techniques are often hard and dangerous, Kondo Sensei emphasized again and again the importance of being careful with your training partner in order to prevent injury. Training was intense, but nobody got injured.
At the end of each day of the seminar there was an opportunity to ask questions. Each training lasted for 4 hours, interrupted by a small break and all participants, including Kondo Sensei, concluded this was far too short a time.
On May 1, fortunately Kondo Sensei was willing to give an extra seminar for students from my dojo and teachers that regularly come to my Daito-ryu training. This turned out to be a very special training. Techniques were practiced. Defenses against Atemi Tsuki Chudan, which are not in the core techniques of Ikkajo through Gokajo.
In between the training weekends we showed Kondo Sensei a few nice sites of the Netherlands and celebrated the biggest of our national holidays, Queen’s Day, with him. All in all it was a very successful week and certainly worth to repeat.