The founding of Kensei kensan kai is the result of Watanabe Yukio (1947-) sensei’s burning interest in Iaido. Watanabe-sensei is currently ranked 7-dan Iaido Kyoshi in the ZNKR, and resides outside of Kawagoe, in Saitama prefecture, Japan. Watanabe-sensei started practising Iaido under the instruction of Iwamoto Masaaki-sensei and through seven years of arderous practice progressed to the Kuden (oral-tradition) level before Iwamoto-sensei passed away.
During this time he also made the aquaintence of Michioka Yoshinori-sensei.
Michioka-sensei, a very distinguished practitioner of Kendo and Iaido, having won numerous competions in both arts during his lifetime, was a training-buddy of Iwamoto-sensei’s. They practised together under the instruction of Omura Yuji-sensei. Omura-sensei had studied Iaido under Nakayama Hakudo-sensei since the age of 15, and was perhaps the most proficient of Nakayama-sensei’s students. Omura-sensei started his own dojo, the Yushin-dojo (named after himself, not to be confused with Nakayama-sensei’s dojo, the Yushinkan) in the Nerima ward of Tokyo after Nakayama-sensei’s passing, and ran it until he himself passed away at the age of 86 in 1980.
After Iwamoto-sensei’s passing, Watanabe-sensei asked Michioka-sensei permission to study under him in accordance with Shu-Ha-Ri, and at that time they created the Kensei kensan kai in Japan together.
Kensei kensan kai in Sweden
In 1980 one of Swedens most proficient Aikido-ka, the late Lennart Linder, went to Japan to practise for a Kobayashi-sensei, who held Aikido-practice in the Renbukan-dojo close to Hon-Kawagoe in Kawagoe city, Saitama prefecture. During this time Michioka Yoshinori-sensei held Kendo and Iaido practise in this very same dojo. It was common that Iaido practise was held after Aikido practise at the Renbukan during this time, and Lennart was given the opportunity to see Kensei Kensan Kai’s Iaido. Lennart was so impressed by what he saw that he pleaded Michioka-sensei and Watanabe-sensei to come to Sweden so that Swedish Budo-ka’s would be able to experience Kensei Kensan Kai’s Iaido there.
During Michioka-sensei’s and Watanabe-sensei’s first visit to Sweden in 1983, Mike Henry and Roger Undhagen were among the spectators at Kensei Kensan Kai’s first exhibition in Sweden. Mike and Roger, who had started practising Kendo and Iaido four years earlier, were so impressed by the display that they immediatly left their dojos, and asked Michioka-sensei for permission to study under him in accordance with Shu-Ha-Ri. They later spent a number of years studying Iaido full time in Japan as uchideshi for Michioka-sensei and Watanabe-sensei.
Kensei kensan kai Today
Today, Kensei kensan kai in Sweden is run by Mike Henry and his and Roger’s students Björn Stille, Magnus Erkstam and Lennart Hellström. Iaido practise is held in Stockholm, Sweden.
Since Michioka-sensei’s passing away in 1997, Mike and Roger has asked Watanabe-sensei permission to study Iaido under him in accordance with Shu-Ha-Ri, thus continuing the Kensei kensan kai legacy in Sweden. This legacy continues to this day with several of Kensei Kensan Kai’s students regularly going to Japan to study Iaido full-time for Watanabe-sensei.
Kensei kensan kai is forever grateful to Lennart Linder for his contribution to Swedish Iaido.