The new season starts!

Dear excellent kendoka,

Welcome to the new kendo season!

RSJ-dojo Amstelveen starts Tuesday, September 5th, and Saturday, September 9th.

Verify all kendo activities and the training days/hours the agenda on our Internet site: https://renshinjuku.nl/?Taal=E

Progress and appointments:

The Yudansha of our dojo must be reinforced! By giving much/more attention to kendoka with bogu it must be possible to raise the kendo-quality of our kendoka considerably. This I will realize by, among other things, focusing the trainings on traditional training forms. To achieve this a number of requirements must be met. Among others a committment to regular kendo training is necessary, in training forms as well as participation. Of members it is now expected that you train at least three weeks per month!! If you cannot satisfy this requirement, you must discuss this matter with me. The initiative for consultation lies with you!

There must be more respect towards teachers. Latecomers are not allowed to join training, unless dispensated by sensei. Members who didn’t pay contribution to the dojo cannot train!

We will keep attendance.

Renshinjuku is a kendo dojo where kendoka are offered the ability to train and to develop themselves. I want to do this with active members, not with sponsors; i.e.: members who only pay contribution, but do not train. If that leads to a small number of devoted attendants then so be it.

We will also give more attention to training forms for Yudansha.

For this I already have a program ready.

Think for yourself what your personal aim in kendo is this coming season and give note of it during training. For myself I have planned to teach more intensively, among other things by training more and to interfere less with the organization of our club. Therefore a number of tasks of the organization is delegated to members.

Inform yourself of our activities through the agenda on our website and decide in which you want to take part.

Anyway, I am completely ready for the coming season; my shinai have been sharpened and oiled; my hakama & keigogi washed and ironed and my bogu polished. I’m now ready to meet you at the other part of my shinai. GAMBATE!!!

 

With kind regards,

 

Bert Heeren sensei

Kendo 6 Dan Renshi

Start of the New Season

Dear members,

As the dojo has begun the summer break as of July 22nd I will inform you on certain things to look forward to:

  • Kendo summer seminar: During the first weekend of August the 4th through 6th the summer seminar will be held at the Sporthallen Zuid in Amsterdam. This is a highly recommended event for all levels of kendo practitioners. The sensei attending are Vitalis-sensei, Kanda-sensei, Iijima-sensei, and Nabeyama-sensei, as well as several students from the University of Tsukuba where Nabeyama-sensei is the head coach. Please make sure to attend!
  • Training at Museido: This dojo in Amsterdam is one that does not have a summer break, so many practitioners from across the country choose to attend training here during the summer. If you are in bogu, this will be a great way to experience a different kind of kendo compared to what we do at Renshinjuku.
  • Start of the new season: Finally on Tuesday the 5th of September and Saturday the 9th of September training of the new season will commence.
  • Buffet party: This tradition to festively open the new year will be held a week later on the 16th of September. For this party you should bring a main course dish for approximately the same number of people as you wish to bring to the party. After the training we will set up a table where all dishes are placed and then we can enjoy each other’s self-prepared food together. Drinks will be taken care of, please make sure to contribute a few coins for this.

Finally, as the weather can occasionally be quite hot, please take care of yourself well. If you practice make sure to hydrate yourself adequately, and to warm up properly. The weather might be hot, but your muscles still require preparation for training!

And if you will go on vacation, please enjoy them thoroughly!

No training this eveningGeen training vanavond

Due to some unforeseen circumstances there will be no training this evening! The reason for this is that neither of the two regular teachers can be present, nor will some of the regular members be able to attend.

I hope that by next Saturday all those who are sick will be in good health again! Please take care.

On a side note, this week the cherry blossoms at the Amsterdam forest are in full bloom, if you haven’t yet, please check them out, they’re very nice to see!

Door wat onverwachte omstandigheden zal er deze avond geen training zijn! De reden hiervoor is dat geen van de twee reguliere docenten aanwezig zijn, evenals de afwezigheid van enkele reguliere leden.

Ik hoop dat iedereen komende zaterdag weer beter is! Let goed op je gezondheid.

P.S.: Deze week staat de kersenbloessem in het Amsterdamse bos in bloei. Als je ze nog niet hebt gezien dan is het zeker een aanrader, ze staan er erg mooi bij!

2015 times suburi2015 times suburi

First off, a reminder: This Saturday, the 10th, will be Kikuta-sensei’s last class with our group. He will be moving to another country because of his work. Please join us at the potluck meal, to thank him and give him your best wishes and to celebrate the opening of the new year.

Hatsukeiko
Last Sunday I was invited by Arjan of Kochokai in Haarlem for a hatsukeiko to celebrate the new year, where we struck the number of years while being encouraged by an ensemble of taiko drums. And as this year is the year 2015 we were going to make 2015 strikes with our bokken. Afterwards there would also be a little lunch but I didn’t attend that because I went to Leiden to see the Geisha exhibit with my dad (which is highly recommended by the way).

Many different disciplines come together
The especially nice thing about Kochokai is that it’s a kobudojo, which means they train a certain type of martial art there as it has been handed down from master to pupil for many generations, all the way back to medieval times and in some cases even earlier. Kochokai sometimes organizes these special events to celebrate something or to simply exchange martial arts with each other. And in this case it was no different, there were aikidoka, iaidoka, kendoka (me and one other, Tijs Dingerdis, coincidentally), mugai ryu practitioners, katori shinto ryu practitoners and probably many more that I don’t know of. So while we were doing the actual suburi you could see many different ways of doing it. Some strike over their shoulder, others from above their heads etc. It’s good to realize there never is 1 perfect or 1 proper way to do something. This thought obviously extends to life in general.

2015 strikes
So after mingling among the guests and participants for a while the counting of the strikes was explained, with 2015 strikes to go it’s evident there should be some kind of system to keep track. The method of counting proved simple enough, there were 10 people in the front row who would each count to 10 and Arjan would then pull down a paper tab from the 20 that were hung over the kamiza after the last of those 10 people had counted their strikes. All the people who wanted to count along were told to stand on the right side, probably so Arjan could hear the last people he was supposed to keep track of better. Motivation for completing the 2015 strikes was provided in the form of an ensemble of taiko drummers who would strike the rhythm that would always be constant but varied, as there were different types of drums.

Suburi
During warm up for kendo there’s always a lot of suburi going on. But the number of strikes is usually limited to a few hundred in total, and after the entire training a practitioner would probably have made fewer than 300 strikes. So striking over 2000 times in less than half the time of one kendo training, let alone a whole week’s worth of training, becomes a whole different matter. At first I was striking like I did in kendo, which is actually quite intensive, as it’s meant to warm you up for the training to come. After a couple hundred this became too hard so I changed my strike to kote height instead of men height to make stopping my bokken easier on my arms. I also chose to use my bokken instead of my shinai because the center of weight is slightly closer to my hand and it’s slightly more aerodynamic which would also relieve some of the stresses on my arms.

Pain
After about 400 to 500 strikes I started to feel my muscles burning up. And it basically got worse after every 100 strikes or so. But the strangest thing is that sometimes the pain would go away for a while. I don’t understand why this happened, but after those first couple hundred strikes the pain would sort of oscillate up and down. Sometimes I would try to do a regular kendo type suburi in between my strikes where I stop the strike with my arms outstretched as far as proper, but that was completely impossible, the pain was too intense if I would try that. I also quickly stopped giving kakigoe the entire time because it was dry and too strenuous on my throat, although I did count along towards the end of every set of 100 strikes. The lack of kakigoe was made up for by the taiko drummers, as I could literally feel the sound of the drums vibrate throughout my body. I think this also helped me cope with the pain because it seems the drums combined with the endless rhythm of striking released a whole load of adrenaline to put me in a sort of trance. Afterwards my arms would prove to be all but dead, and they would remain this way for 3 days to come.

Almost there
Once all the paper tabs were pulled by Arjan we started the last 15 strikes. I did these strikes as best I could in the normal kendo warmup suburi way, and also gave my loudest kiai. The drums also intensified, and all the people around me started to shout louder and they started to make bigger strikes. By this time I had also developed a couple blisters in my hands, which I haven’t had since I began kendo more than 5 years ago. And then right after the last strike everybody froze and there was no sound. It was incredible.

I would like to express my gratitude to Arjan Tervoort for inviting me to this special hatsukeiko. And I would also like to thank him and all the others of Kochokai for their hospitality.

Kochokai can be found here.
Pictures were taken by Sophie from Sografie.

And again, don’t forget to attend the potluck party after Saturday’s training!

Zie Engelse versie.

Kendo in JakartaKendo in Jakarta

With the slightly cold winter months upon us, I would like to share something I wrote back during the summer while I attended practice at the Jakarta Kendo Association in Indonesia. Both to warm ourselves from this admittedly not incredibly cold weather, and because the new season is almost starting! And just to remind you, next Saturday is the bring-your-own-boo..-uh..-dinner-party. I hope to see you all there!

Jigeiko

First Impression before the training:

The moment the cab drove up the driveway of the school I could tell the super typical shape of a Japanese school. And from all the nice architectural details I could tell this school had many facilities that most schools don’t. The school looks like something out of an anime and when I approached the actual auditorium/sports hall this feeling only increased. The school looks like as if someone had teleported a Japanese school from Japan into Indonesia.

Kata

Some numbers:

The hall where I practiced kendo has a stage on one end. Along the long walls there are many double doors that were opened as it was really hot and humid outside (35 degrees C, 100% humidity), so even the summer climate of Japan is the same. The floor is nice as well. Closely resembling that of the old Renshinjuku dojo, with the main differences being: it’s way way way larger even though the RSJ hall wasn’t exactly small either, and there are permanent shiaijo markings.

The composition of the kendoka at the JKA are roughly the same as at Renshinjuku as well with all generations and proficiency levels participating with roughly half of them being Japanese nationals. The number of kendoka was slightly higher than a regular training at Renshinjuku at around 30 people in total attending. The number of sensei was also higher than at Renshinjuku with 4 sensei attending instead of the regular 2 at RSJ. All sensei are of Japanese origin and I believe there were at least 2 ranked 7th dan, but I am not too sure about this right now.

The training roughly lasted from 9 am to 12 am, with the first half hour spent on kata (again like RSJ).

Kiddykendo

Training:

Similar to RSJ, the training seemed to be heavily focused on kihon. I was rather late due to “circumstances” (or “jam karet” as Indonesians would say) so after the warming up I was directed to the back room to get my bogu sorted. During this time I missed out on the first part of the training where I believe I heard the commands being given for Kirikaeshi and Men-uchi and such exercises. Once I was able to attend these types of kihon exercises continued.

What is that?

Some of the exercises were Hayai-men, Hayai-kote-men, and Men ni taisuru oji-waza with a focus on forcing the motodachi’s men through the shidachi’s seme.

Then it was on to uchikomi-geiko (4 techniques) with the sensei and after a short break ji-geiko also with the sensei.

During the ji-geiko Ban-sensei told me where my striking distance was. So when he told me from exactly what distance I should attack my men-strike suddenly became a lot better. This was a rather bizarre insight, that I hope to keep with me.

Conclusion:

From what I have seen so far I could tell that the overall level of the kendoka of the Jakarta Kendo Association is quite similar to that of Renshinjuku with the exception that there doesn’t seem to be a core group of people who are disproportionately stronger like we have at Renshinjuku. At RSJ there seem to be a lot of beginners and a few very experienced kendoka with almost nobody in between, whereas at the JKA there’s also a sort of middle group i.e. the levels seem to be better proportioned at the JKA. As a result, the international shiai delegation of the JKA is of greatly varying proficiency. From what I’ve heard for example, some of the participants of the WKC from this dojo are only ikkyuu, and others 3rd dan.

On a more personal note, I was also told that my men is very nice. I tried to figure out why I had been told this as the type of training here is almost exactly the same as the training I receive at RSJ. I think it might have to do with my shiai experience which seems to be quite a bit higher than the average over here combined with my length which is exceptional for Indonesian/Japanese standards that makes it somewhat easier for me to score a nice men on a shorter person.

All in all the JKA seems to be like a larger, more Japanese version of Renshinjuku. Especially compared to the (small number of) dojo I have ever visited, which are all Dutch.

What am I supposed to do with this again?

Thanksgiving:

At any rate, I’m incredibly thankful that I have been able to participate in kendo training in the country in which my mother is born. And I hope I can attend the training at the Jakarta Kendo Association twice more before I return to the Netherlands on the 24th of this month.

よろしくお願いします!

http://www.jakartakendo.com/

http://www.jjs.or.id/toppage/top.html

This was my account of my training in Japan. I had already published it back in September on my Facebook, but I thought it would be nice to share it here as well.

Please don’t forget to attend training on Saturday, January 10th for the opening of the new year practice and -party!

Zie de Engelse versie van de website.

 

National Students TourneyNationaal Studenten Toernooi

It’s been a while since I wrote something but there was a kendo tournament yesterday on which I would like to make a few remarks. Especially because I was the unlikely winner of this tournament, even though I decided on saturday to give my mom a trophy as a mother’s day present.

First a little explanation of what kind of tournament this actually is:

The National Student Kendo Tournament, or NSKT, is a tournament in which all students ages 15 and up are allowed to participate in. As a student you are supposed to be enrolled in a program at an educational institution.

The conditions of the tournament as it was held yesterday:

  • 9 participants total
  • Participants’ experience ranging from 1 to 5 years, and aged around 20 to 24. (I think.. I was probably the oldest at 26, and probably the 3rd most experienced with 4 years of kendo after Juliën who regularly attends teamtraining and 5 years of experience and Ivo who has gone to the IBU in Katsuura for a year of kendo training and more kendo experience than I had before that, both of whom I had to face during the tournament. With Ivo during the poules and Juliën in the finals).
  • laminated concrete floor, in an elementary school’s gym
  • 9 x 9 m shiaijo (minimum size for a shiaijo)
  • 3 poules of 3 participants of which the best 2 proceeded
  • followed by 3 single-elimination rounds where 2 people got a bye to the 2nd round/semi-finals
  • sanbon shoubu (best of 3)
  • Afterwards the poule you were in was your team for the team competition (which was a round-robin setup like the poules during the individual competition).

Now an explanation of why I think I could win:

Right from the beginning I tried to keep my back towards the middle of the shiaijo while facing my opponent. This gave me dominance over the shiaijo and from this position it was easy for me to force my opponents into attacking my men using seme. I would do this the whole time deflecting their men when I felt it was too fast and going for their kote with debana kote or nuki kote if they were being too slow. If they got past me I would follow them right up into chikamaai usually forcing them to go backwards so they were right up in the corner of the shiaijo and I had my back towards the middle again. Usually I would even follow them further and do a men taiatari hiki men or kote. This almost always caused them to drop out of the shiaijo so they would get a hansoku or I would get a kote or men ippon. Sometimes I would not even let them pass me at all if they tried to hit me and when this happened they would sometimes try a hiki waza in that tight corner they were already in, so then it became even easier for me to do a men or kote taiatari hiki waza with the same result as mentioned before.

What I noticed as well was that, after I gave my opponent their first hansoku, they would get all flustered. And the level of their kendo would diminish somewhat, or their conviction rather. This happened to a somewhat lesser extent to the stronger opponents I had, but the weaker ones became easier to “move around” to where I wanted them to go once they had gotten their first penalty. It was like they had already lost but were still fighting. The only thing I had to do was to “finish the job”.

In the end I scored 3 kinds of points. The most points I scored were kote, followed by points given to me by hansoku and finally a couple men ippon. I believe there was no match for which I needed the hansoku points in order to win but I think I caused a whopping 8 hansoku in only 7 matches, for a total of 3 ippon I got from just my opponents’ hansoku. There was even one match during which I got my opponent out of the shiaijo 3 times. The men ippon I scored were usually followed by my opponent stepping out of the shiaijo too. All the taiatari techniques I performed were a single push while my opponents were already in an unstable position, so it wasn’t like sumo or something, just one push to propel our bodies away from eachother.

So what this tells me is that many of the contestants were poorly aware of the shiaijo lines, and they were letting themselves get pressured into underspirited attacks because of my area dominance. Most of the time they weren’t turning around properly either. This has probably to do with them minding the lines so much that their posture was off while turning around. Which obviously I took advantage of by doing my own, essentially kihon, techniques followed by taiatari.

There was one occasion during the team competition where an opponent I had was on the line, but because I felt I had taken so much advantage of the previous hansoku already I balked. I stepped back so he could regain his posture. In other words, I was being nice that time. Even though I was already starting towards him and halfway in my taiatari position. This is the only match I lost with 2 men ippon against me.

Things to take away from this tournament:

Based on what I experienced during the tournament, and on what the shimpan had to say about the performance of the various participants, I would like to make the following remarks.

  • Keep the middle of the shiaijo behind you.
  • Keep doing seme, if your opponent has a weak conviction you will back them up against the line, forcing them into a half-hearted attack so you can take advantage of their openings at your leisure.
  • Do not let them pass when they strike so you retain area dominance, sometimes they will try hiki waza even though they are already on the line!
  • If you do let them pass, follow your opponent after their strike, especially with small shiaijo they will end up near the line so their zanshin might be absent and their kamae will usually be off for you to take advantage of.
  • If they are near the line just do a men or kote taiatari hiki waza, doing this you might get an ippon for your technique or your opponent gets a hansoku for stepping outside which might mess up their train of thought. So this is “isseki ni chou” or “one stone, two birds” as they say in Japan, because you get a double advantage by only performing one technique.
  • And finally, kihon is a lot more powerful than what I previously thought. The only strikes I attempted were kote and men. No tsuki, no do, just the simple up and down motion of kote and men were mostly enough to get me the top prize.

I hope this will inspire you all to train harder at kihon! It certainly inspired me after being so flabbergasted.

And last but not least the results:

Individual:

  1. Zicarlo van Aalderen
  2. Juliën Lubeek
  3. Charl Barel and Ivo van Roij

Teams:

  • Team 2: Sarah Klomp, Pepijn Boomgaard and Charl Barel

Fighting Spirit:

  • Jonathan de Croon

Nederlandse versie volgt!

Student statisticsStudent statistieken

Here’s a bunch of interesting statistics, for the first half of the ’12-’13 season.

  • The average participation of all members (whose names are on the attendance roster) for classes in Amstelveen is ~27%.
  • So far we have had 48 trainings.
  • Everyone in the top 5 has an attendance record of over 80%: Roelof, Machi, Mike, Onno en Zicarlo.
  • Everyone in the top 5 has at least two months of 100% attendance. The only one with at least two months of full attendance, but below 80% is Machiko at 79,17%
  • Roelof-sensei has missed only one training and has a stellar attendance of 97,92%!
  • The average attendance goes down every month, starting at 37.5% in september and down to 20% in January. It went back up a little bit in February, at 23.6%
  • Mischa was only present in September (before his leave of absence), but at that time he trained in Almere as well so his attendance was 137.5%.

Wat interessante tussentijdse aanwezigheidsstatistieken:

  • De gemiddelde deelname van alle leden (op de aanwezigheidslijst) aan trainingen in amstelveen tot nu toe is ongeveer 27%.
  • Dat gaat over de 48 trainingen die tot nu toe zijn geweest.
  • Iedereen die in de top 5 voorkomt heeft een aanwezigheid van meer dan 80%. Dit zijn: Roelof, Machi, Mike, Onno en Zicarlo.
  • Iedereen in de top 5 heeft minstens 2 maanden 100% aanwezigheid. De enige die niet in de top 5 zit die dat ook heeft is Machiko met een aanwezigheid van 79,17%
  • Roelof heeft maar 1 training in september gemist, waardoor zijn aanwezigheid 97,92% is.
  • De gemiddelde aanwezigheid per maand daalde elke maand van 37.5% in september tot 20% in januari, in februari was hij weer hoger met 23.6%
  • Mischa was er alleen in september, maar in die maand trainde hij ook in Almere dus zijn aanwezigheid was in die maand het hoogst met 137.5%

(Disclaimer: niet iedereen kruist elke training zijn naam aan, maar voor zover ik weet klopt de onderstaande top 5 dan alsnog, de gemiddelde deelname van iedereen zou wel wat hoger moeten zijn)

Summary of class, 12/01Samenvatting les, 12/01

This is the summary of last saturday’s training at the Amstelveen dojo.

As this was the first saturday training of the year, it was a little different from the others in what kind of exercises were done. At the end there was also another reminder about the importance of shinai maintenance. The training consisted of kata practice in the beginning followed by an alternative kihon after a regular warming up and then normal kihon which was conluded by jigeiko at the end. The training itself was closed off with the reminder on shinai maintenance and after the training the buffet party was held.

Training:

So after the now customary kata practice and warming up Heeren-sensei told us to do something very unusual, as it is the first training of the year. He told us to do everything mirrored from what we normally do, so even rotating to your next partner was done towards the left instead of to the right. It was basically a kihon practice but just the other way around, and it consisted of the following exercises:

  • kirikaeshi
  • men
  • kote men
  • do
  • kote men do
  • jigeiko

As everything was mirrored, also the datotsubui were on the other side of the opponent. One also had to do fumikomi with the left foot rather than the right. All this combined made for some very interesting practice, especially in the case of do strikes. It would make one feel like a beginner again. It was also a nice opportunity to find out how much you have already learned physically as, instead of the normal muscles, you had to use muscles that you would normally not use in kendo.

The new year’s practice was followed by a regular training which included:

  • hayai men
  • hayai kirikaeshi
  • men ni taisuru oji waza
  • kote ni taisuru oji waza
  • jigeiko

The regular part of the training was focused on delivering quick attacks and as such, was especially useful for those who want to participate in competitions.

Shinai Maintenance:

After the physical part of the training there was another talk on the importance of shinai maintenance. Heeren-sensei said the same things as he had said before but there was more emphasis on safety and what can go wrong when shinai are not properly cared for.
There was for instance an accident in Germany where a take of a kendoka‘s shinai went into the eye (and brain) of his opponent because his tsuru and leathers were not properly tied. His opponent died from the injury.

Injuries that are far more common because of improperly maintained shinai are splinters entering the skin of the arms and neck of the opponent. Or splinters that get into the eyes of your opponent.

So make absolutely sure you do not have any splinters in your shinai. Check them after every training, and make sure to remove any splinters if you find any. Also sand down parts of your shinai that look like they may develop splinters quickly.

These parts (usually on or near the monouchi) are recognized as either being blueish/dark of colour compared to the rest of the shinai because of all the dye that has gotten between the bamboo fibers due to the many strikes that have connected here, or having many dents on the bamboo because of repeated strikes to the men-gane.

Sand down those areas untill the colour is the same as the rest of the shinai. And in the case of dents, sand it down until the angled edges of those dents have become smooth.

Buffet Party:

After the talk on shinai maintenance preparations were made for the buffet party. There were quite a few families, and the delicious food that was brought in was primarily Japanese obviously but there was a surprising amount of Indonesian food as well. Usually there are some people who also bring in some Dutch dishes (like boerenkool met worst), but this time there were not that many quintessentially Dutch foods to be had.

Alleen Engelse versie beschikbaar! Binnekort ook in het Nederlands.

Past sunday’s CTCT van afgelopen zondag

This post is about last sunday’s central training, and more specifically about the exam and preparations that were made for the exam (see this post for extra details on kata).

Because of last sunday’s exam, virtually all the classes right after the national championships up until the central training consisted of a lot of specific exam training. Some classes were entirely devoted to kata while others also had light kihon and jigeiko.

The general set up of a class was half an hour kata, followed by half an hour of very basic kihon (men, kote – men, dou, debana kote or men. Both quick and large) with finally half an hour of jigeiko. And as most kendoka were preparing for their first exam the kata mostly focused on were the first three.

As the time between the national championships and the central training was relatively short, Bert Heeren-sensei told us to focus on a single kata each week. Continuing onto the next every subsequent week. At the end of the 3 weeks a beginner of kata would then have sufficiently mastered the required first couple of kata for the exam.

However, even though everybody participated in kata training for the exam, not many of our dojo could participate in the exam because of the exam requirement that a candidate should have attended at least 3 central trainings including the training with the exam itself. But even so, 3 renshinjuka were able to participate in the exam itself, with others attending the non-exam part of the central training.

The central training itself was quite interesting for me, as I had never done an exam before. The setup was as follows:

  1. Warming-up, in which all attendants of the central training participated.
  2. Then the training was split up into 3 groups, beginners, regular attendants and exam candidates.
  3. The exam candidates were also split up into 3 groups (ikkyuu candidates, 1st dan candidates and 2nd and 3rd dan candidates. We all began with light kihon, kirikaeshi, large men and kote, small men and kote, and small kote – men etc. But also some debana waza, and a suriage technique was also practiced.
    Our teacher for the day, Koos van Hattum-sensei, told us that during the exam itself, we should just do what we already know. And that this practice was merely to give us some pointers on what to pay attention to, not so much to learn new things. So the suriage technique for example wasn’t something the ikkyuu candidates (or anyone who doesn’t regularly do this technique) should focus on.
  4. Then we went on to kata practice. This was our chance to ask for some last pointers to improve our kata.
  5. Then after a break the exams themselves started.

Please refer to this post for the following:
The exam itself consists of 3 official parts and a written examination. First a candidate had to show kirikaeshi and do jitsugi (basically a jigeiko specially for exams) twice. Then while waiting for the other candidates to finish their kirikaeshi and jitsugi a candidate would have to do the written part of the exam (called gakka). During this time those who could proceed to the kata part of the exam were announced on papers. So then exam was completed with the final kata part. All in all the entire exam with all the candidates took roughly 2 hours to complete.

In the end Nick Kistemaker from RSJ Almere and myself were able to attain our targeted ranks of shodan and ikkyuu respectively.

Nederlandse versie volgt nog!