Katori Shinto Ryu Sensei: Otake Risuke Sensei
Otake Risuke Minamoto-no-Takeyuki was the head teacher of Shinbukan dojo. He was born in Daiei, Katori district, Chiba prefecture in 1926. In 1942, he entered Katori Shinto Ryu as a student of Hayashi Yazaemon Shihan. Because he wanted to acquire the frame of mind required of a soldier serving on the frontline he entered the dojo, during this time of war. But World War II ended the year he was to be sent to the front. So he has been able to continue his training within the school for more than sixty years.
In 1960, the Chiba Prefecture Office of Education, Department for the Promotion of Education, Section for Cultural Assets (千葉県教育庁教育振興部文化財課) awarded Katori Shintō-ryu the status of Intangible Cultural Asset of Chiba Prefecture. Because of Hayashi Yazaemon Shihan and Ōtake Risuke Shihan’s efforts the tradition was the first martial art in Japan to be designated as a cultural asset. Both Ōtake Risuke Shihan and Ōtake Nobutoshi Shihan hold the official title of Guardian under authority of the Chiba Prefecture Office of Education.
In 1964 he opened Shinbukan Dojo. Sensei has worked continuously to correctly transmit the technical and philosophical teachings of this nearly six-hundred-year-old tradition. He authored a three-volume series The Deity and the Sword: Katori Shinto Ryu in 1977. In 1987 he hosted a Commemorative Festival for the 600th Anniversary of the Birth of Founder Iizasa Choisai.
He has become extremely well-know because he participated in countless domestic and overseas demonstrations and television appearances. Sensei has also written magazine articles, and created choreography for television and films. For the past thirty years he has served as a Chiba Prefectural Japanese sword and antique firearms inspector. The Education Ministry has recognised his work with awards such as the Order of the Rising Sun; Twin Rays.
At present, guardians of the school’s intangible cultural asset designation are Iizasa Yasusada Soke, Otake Risuke Shihan, Otake Nobutoshi Shihan. Today Otake Risuke and Otake Nobutoshi Sensei are based at the Shinbukan Dojo and train students domestically. They appoint shidosha (instructors) for several overseas countries and work towards the correct transmission of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu globally. We visit Otake Sensei at least several times a year in Japan.
Katori Shinto Ryu Shihan: Otake Nobutoshi
Nobutoshi Sensei was born in 1952 and started with iai jutsu training from 5 years old and with the rest of the curriculum from 13 years old. When he was 10 years old he featured in an article with his father Otake Riske sensei. The magazine was called Japanese Child (Nihongo Kodomo). He demonstrated iaijutsu often and at different places from as young as twelve years old, for example at the Meji Shrine in Tokyo in 1972. Sometimes he would demonstrate with his father and sometimes with other students. As a child and young adult he would teach adult students and his brother. When he was 11/12 he demonstrated bo uke with Donn Draeger.
In the first years Sensei did not train directly with his father until after he became 20 years old because his father and he were mostly teaching. He trained shuriken almost every day and started cutting bamboo with a sword when he was 6 or 7 years old. At school he was bored and his grades suffered.
Otake Risuke was teaching three or four people who came for practice at a time and Nobutoshi sensei and his father were always together. But Nobutoshi sensei didn’t have much time to practice with his father because he had to teach. Sometimes people would not show up at the same time. Some would come and train in the afternoon, some at night. So father and son would teach them separately whenever they came in.
This was when there were no books or movies about Tenshinshō-den Katori Shintō-ryū. All people would know was what they learned from his father or from him. Otake Nobutoshi has been involved in training actors for the movie “A Samurai chronicle” (Higurashi-no-ki / 蜩ノ記 2014). Otake Nobutoshi Shihan has visited our dojo in Vietnam annually since 2012 to head our international seminar.
Katori Shinto Ryu Sensei: Yamada Hironobu
Yamada Hironobu sensei was one of the most senior students in Shinbukan Dojo with Menkyo Kyoshi level. He features in the BBC documentary The Way of the Warrior, shot in the 80s. You can easily spot him as he is the only one wearing a white dogi. Because he introduced martial arts to many parts in the world a great many students came to Japan to train at Shinbukan Dojo. Sadly in 2017 Yamada Sensei passed away. He will always be with us in spirit.
Katori Shinto Ryu Sensei: Erik Louw Sensei
Erik Louw was born in 1956 and has practiced many kinds of martial arts. He focused on Katori Shintō-ryū and Aikido Aikikai in which he holds the title of 6th Dan. Erik Louw trained and taught martial arts for more than 50 years but has been our sensei since 1996.
He started with Judo and Kyokoshinkai Karate. Later he moved on to Shaolin Kempo and Kendo achieving shodan in the latter in 1978. He took up Aikido and has a 6th dan since 1999. He attained a 5th dan in Sugino Katori Shintō-ryū and a Mengkyo from Otake Sensei. His work for the arts has resulted in his receiving the title of Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau. These days he visits our dojo in Vietnam twice a year to instruct us.
Accomplishments and distinctions of Erik Louw sensei
- 2013 – winner of the Dutch “ Amsterdamse pluim”. (Received for aikido integration of disabled / handicapped people)
- 2010 – Decorated as “ Riddder in de orde van Oranje Nassau”. (Royal decoration (Knight) for introducing Martial Arts in The Netherlands)
Shidosha Vietnam Malte Stokhof
Malte Stokhof has made the study of Katori Shinto Ryu his professional career. He trains and teaches daily at his dojo in Vietnam in the hope of improving himself.