Meeting Katsuyuki Kondo sensei

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

On the afternoon of April 23rd, 2012. I attended a private lesson with my Japan Trip group consisting of English, Irish, Polish and Slovakian that I had arranged though third parties with katsuyuki Kondo sensei.

We left our Kyoto Hotel in the morning arriving by Shinkansen in Tokyo around lunch time. I had planned ahead by printing maps of various levels of zoom to show so the taxi driver allowing him to find his way to the Dojo. Unfortunately my group needed 3 sets of maps to guide the 3 taxi drivers which I stupidly did not anticipate. So, I was in the lead taxi with the maps, The 2 other taxi drivers following behind. This ensued a hilarious and equally terrifying journey, as my taxi went through a changing red light the other two went through red dodging the oncoming side traffic, the third taxi driver was laughing at every junction to the screams of his passengers. This continued across Tokyo until we arrived from the white knuckle ride at the dojo.

We arrived too early and after some deliberation, I decided go inside to find someone to inform or our arrival. Taking my shoes off, I headed up the stairs. I came across a door so I decided to knock and see if it would open. To my surprise, there was Kondo sensei sitting at his desk right in front of me. I informed him of our arrival. Kondo sensei directed us to a restaurant around the corner. We returned at the correct time, Kondo sensei took me around and told me about the toilet etiquette which was a seemly very long and complicated. I decided to tell my multi language group not to use the toilet for fear of upsetting kondo sensei as he was extremely fixated with it!

We started our class with Kondo sensei who had a couple of black belt students assisting him as he was explaining Daito Ryu, he pulled out a device the measures grip strength and griped it hard showing the measurement, he said, now I use Aiki and it registered more. He passed this device around which the larger students and myself griped it extremely hard at points taking the reading off of the scale. He then showed Aiki-age then various joint locks.

We had a break, and due to the underestimated travelling time required to get from the dojo to the bus station to return to Tokyo in time, we realised we wouldn’t be able to stay for evening class. So, I went to his office to inform him of our problem. He was exceedingly understanding and personally arranged the taxis to take us to the bus station.

Realising that I were alone with the world leader of Daito Ryu, I decided to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to ask him about Aiki. He answered, “there were many kinds of Aiki”. I requested if I could demonstrate my Aiki, he agreed, I instructed him to grab my little finger strongly, I created a Zero Point Aiki connection, then pulsed a wave into his centre. This threw him back a lot harder than I intended into the lockers behind him. He was very shocked and I apologised. He said that this was a different kind of Aiki and began to question me intensively in how I had acquired this skill and what I could do with it. I explained that I had developed it myself from studying under with my father.

This is where I began to show him techniques that I learnt from Terry Wingrove which are essentially killing techniques. Kondo sensei recognised them immediately and became very enthusiastic as we started going through many versions back and forth. One in particular that I did on his throat, Kondo sensei suddenly exclaimed this was Takeda sensei’s favourite technique! During this exchange Masayuki Kondo sensei entered the office. Kondo sensei introduced him as his number 1 guy and he joined in the fun with kondo sensei starting by telling me to do the same to his brother with throwing him into the lockers.

I noticed the time and informed Kondo sensei the break time was over, but Kondo sensei said one of his students will take over the lesson in the dojo. We continued to exchange, with Kondo constantly questioning me. When I answered a question that I drew a great deal of inspiration from Okamoto sensei saying he was a student of Kodo Horikawa sensei. Kondo sensei exclaimed “ah I knew Kodo sensei" This is when Kondo sensei became determined to show me a picture of himself with Kodo sensei. We went downstairs and out the back door to his house. It was raining, Kondo sensei took an umbrella and held it above my head all the time I'm trying to put it over him as we walked to his house.

We entered his beautiful house, walking around an internal garden and what seemed like hundreds of picture frames on the walls with insects in them. He led me into his study room, there was an almost floor to ceiling dark wood and glass book case completely filled with books and piles of paperwork. He began pulling out and dropping books and loose papers all over the floor. He was frustrated as he couldn't find the photo.

He led me back to the dojo basement where there was a large steal container-like box. He opened the first door that immediately revealed another to enter the what seemed a secure vault room filled with antique clocks, samurai armour and all sorts of random things. The Menkyo Kaiden certificate was on the wall, He started to tell me that this is the real one which has subtle difference with the one in the dojo, so he always knows if someone has a fake certificate as they copy the one in the dojo. In the left corner there was a solid metal safe about 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. He opened it and started to route through looking for the picture. He showed me a small round cine film tin saying this is the original 1935 film of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei’s demonstration, he began to pull it out, up to the air to see in the light. Then he showed me the Eimeiroku and the Soden. Sadly, kondo sensei never did find the picture of himself with Kodo Horikawa sensei.

We went back up to the dojo, my group were not happy with me due to them being left with a low-level instructor. Kondo sensei ended the class and we went to get changed as the children’s class was about to begin. Then we went downstairs into the basement to wait for the taxis to arrive, this is when a poor-quality photo was taken in front of the vault room. We said out goodbyes and left for another crazy overnight journey back to our Kyoto Hotel.

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