Martial Arts Festival 2019

On February the 16th 2019, the third edition of the Martial Arts Festival in Utrecht will take place. Whether you are already practicing martial arts and want to broaden your horizons or you have always want to practise martial arts, but never knew where to start, this is the day for you!

Since I started my martial arts journey – or my dō, as we call it – budo quickly became very important to me. I read and think about it every day, do midori keiko with YouTube and dojo recordings and aim to train five times a week (which is not always possible, #spoonie, but I try).


My dō has only just begun and I find this new adventure to have many exciting prospects. Although I won some trophies and medals, what I value most are the memories, friendships and experiences. And one occasion to find and create these cherished moments is the annual Martial Arts Festival in Utrecht.

On this day, young and old can get acquainted with more than 15 budo, fighting and self-defense sport providers from the Utrecht area. During the day, workshops and demonstrations will be given by the participating associations and foundations. There will also be information stands where guests can go for all their questions. Everyone can walk in all day (from 11:00 to 17:00) for free. For more information, see their site and the Facebook event.

Many interesting dojo’s will be there – I will certainly be checking out Yūkikan Katori Shinto-ryu, for example. And I hope that Takeda Ryu will be there again, as wel, for my friend and I did a very informative workshop with them, last year. By the way, we also did a workshop in Krav Maga, where we managed to launch the plastic pistol via the ceiling on the head of the teacher… *memorable moments*.

The 2018 edition of the Martial Arts Festival will always be special to me, anyway, because it was there & then that I encountered kendo and decided that I wanted to practise it, next to the wado-ryu karate I already did. It turned out that starting kendo had a huge positive impact on my karate, mostly in terms of fighting spirit – but that is something for another blog, I guess.

In the upcoming edition of the festival, I will participate in a kendo demonstration (already!) and I am very curious how other budoka will react to it. Next to that, I will be part of a demonstration and workshop in karate and in kobudo, because one of my groups will present itself as a new Utrecht dojo! Ladies & gentlemen, may I please introduce you to Tsuru-do Kan?



Tsuru-do Kan is a new Utrecht dojo for traditional budo, the ‘way of martial art’. Our disciplines are wado-ryu karate and kobudo. Sensei Kevin, sensei Gerard and sensei Carl teach both the traditional styles and the more applied forms of self-defense. In addition, they pay attention in the training to the building of physical fitness, flexibility and muscle strength.

Wado-ryu means ‘the way of harmony’. Traditional Wado-ryu karate strives for harmony between body and mind through ancient martial arts exercises, combining resilience, philosophy and body art. Kobudo is our weapons training, including the bo (a stick of 183cm), the sai (two small tridents), the kama (two little sails) and the tonfa (two short sticks with handles).

Some of you might already recognise some of these weapons –Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, anyone? – but to me, they were all new. I had some minor experience with the tanto (a wooden knife) and the jo (a stick of 127cm), from classes in karate and aikido/aiki-jo. Also, I participated in a workshop of aiki-jo at the MA Festival 2018. But as similar as the sticks may seem, the bo-techniques vastly differ from the jo’s.

Looking back, for me, the addition of these weapons trainings to my karate practise was a huge step forward in my development and growth. To be honest, at the beginning I was a bit hesitant to start kobudo, because I would just flow into a group of black bands that had been training karate as well as kobudo for years. I did not want to bother them or to slow down their practise. But as they kindly reminded me, within wado-ryu, not the achievement of certain physical goals is important, it is all about the learning process.

As the use of the body in kobudo is basically the same as in karate, the extra hour per week to focus on your stances, balance and movements was already beneficial for me. Besides that, kobudo emphasises all of the same mental benefits of karate, including focus, determination, fighting spirit, a complete merging of your mind and body. For as Jesse Enkamp puts it, “[t]he link between Karate and Kobudo is both physical, psychological, philosophical, cultural and historical.” Thus, kobudo is a very valuable way to improve your karate. Which I notice in my kata, for example, in which I can now envision an armoured enemy in front of me.

“Karate and Kobudo is like brother and sister. Never separate.”

– Nakamoto Masahiro, 10th dan Okinawan Kobudo
But there is more: my abilities to defend myself in a real life situations have grown as well. All weapons used in kobudo require different methods and strategies, so when you practise those, in emergency situaties, you can use all kinds of ordinary items (like your handbag or your high heeled shoe) to defend yourself. Having started kobudo makes me feel more safe on the streets and in the pub at night.


So, to round it up, there is another reason that I am really looking forward to this year’s edition of the MA Festival: you might never know what a new martial art will bring you. Kendo really helps my karate in terms of fighting spirit, for example, and kobudo teaches me maneuvers that will allow me to turn almost any object into a weapon.

Therefore, I am very happy and grateful that I can help my sensei and sempai in introducing the martial arts that I practise to you! So please, if you are in the Utrecht area, just come and join us. Physical predisposition (or “talent”) is of minor importance, you are never too old to learn – I mean, come one, Tsuneko Machida (4th dan) started karate at 63-years old! – a new martial art might broaden your horizons in unexpected ways and last but not least: it will be so much fun!


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