14th Central stage - Amsterdam / Almere

May, 23rd to 25th 2014

The 14th Central stage of Jodo was held in Amsterdam and nearby Almere on May 23-25. The seminar was once again lead by Fred Quant (Menkyo Kaiden) and Kees Bruggink (Gomokuroku). There were 37 participants, mostly from the Netherlands (Amsterdam Shin-shinbuken dojo, Haarlem Munen Muso dojo and Groningen), but also from Belgium, Sweden, England, USA (or Russia), Czech Republic and Hungary.

About half of the participants arrived already for the Friday evening training, which was held in the smaller dojo in Amsterdam. The program consisted of kihon sotai and the katas of Shinto ryu kenjutsu, demonstrated and corrected by both teachers.

The Saturday and Sunday trainings took place in a hall in Almere, just large enough for almost 40 participants. After introductions, Fred gave thanks for the kamiza brought by Kees's students and the calligraphies prepared by Rob Stemmerik, which featured the favourite sayings of Nishioka sensei: keiko shokon and shuri kosei.

On Saturday, we practiced the basic techniques in the uchikomi form, frequently changing the partners. In similar way, we trained a few selected katas from omote waza (tachi otoshi, tsuba wari and ukan), with several slight variations.

These were motivated by the recent seminar in Guadarrama which was lead by Watabe sensei together with other teachers (including Pascal Krieger). Next, we divided into groups according to the experience. The Sunday was similar, first focusing on the intensive training of basic techniques and selected katas, then separate program in groups.

More advanced participants practiced the katas of kage, samidare and okuden, in which both teachers again included the observations from the Guadarrama seminar. Other participants worked on omote and chudan.

Furthermore, some time was devoted to intense ran-ai practice, exams (on Saturday) and a possibility to practice with the teachers or the most advanced students.

Although we know both teachers quite well, their approach at this seminar showed us new options and variants, some of which they themselves tried just a few weeks ago. We had an opportunity to realize how many possibilities are hidden in what we practice, and how much is there to learn.

In addition to the trainings, we would like to praise the organization by Jeffrey and Shanti (Fred's students), including the possibility to sleep in the dojo, the breakfasts and lunches, as well as the excellent dinner for all the participants. The next Central stage is planned in a year, but we will hopefully meet Fred and Kees already this summer in Sweden as well as at other seminars in the autumn.

Patrik Orth, English translation Zdenek Dvorak, Photos Frank Hoekzema