Kickboxing was introduced in the Netherlands by Jan Plas, Peter van den Hemel and Jan van Looijen in 1975. Below you can read a short story about how the three Dutchmen came into contact with Kickboxing.
Jan Plas, Peter van den Hemel and Jan van Looijen were karate students. The trio was promoted to eight dan in the Kyokushin Budokai All Round Fighting by Jon Bluming. Furthermore, they had a background in boxing and judo.
The three Dutchmen had a lot of interest in making their fighting style even more effective and complete. That is how they came into contact with Tai-Ki-Ken, among other things.
Tai-Ki-Kenpo or 'Great Energy Boxing' is an oriental fighting art, (further) developed by
the Japanese master Sawai Kenichi. This kenpo has hard to compare to popular martial arts, because of its unique budo and wushu background.
In 1974, Jan Kallenbach brought a number of Japanese Tai-Ki-Ken specialists to the Netherlands. Yoshimichi Sato, Akio Sawai and Norimasa Iwama taught Tai-Ki-Ken lessons
to Dutch karate students. Peter van den Hemel and Jan van Looijen had a great interest
in Tai-Ki-Ken. For over a year, the duo got private lessons from Sato, Sawai and Iwama,
multiple times a week. These lessons were given in what was then the dojo of
Ronny van de Bos. This dojo was located in the Raamstraat in Amsterdam.
In 1975, Akio Sawai, the son of Tai-Ki-Ken master Kenichi Sawai invited Peter van den Hemel and Jan van Looijen to train under master Kenichi Sawai in Tokyo. Peter van den Hemel and Jan van Looijen decided to accept this invitation, and when Jan Plas heard about their plans for the study trip to Japan, he also wanted to join. Thus the three Dutchmen went to Tokyo
by plane, with their goal to become more skilled at Tai-Ki-Ken.
Akio Sawai would pick them up from the airport in Tokyo. But when they arrived at the airport, Akio Sawai was nowhere to be found. In the end, they reached Akio Sawai by phone. When asked, Sawai let them know that he and Sato had to work a lot of overtime because of the problems with the economy in Japan, and really had no time to guide the Dutchmen and teach them Tai-Ki-Ken. Akio Sawai did tell the three Dutchmen that they would be welcome to join the training in the park every Sunday, guided by Kenichi Sawai.
It wasn’t until much later that it turned out that the argument of the economic crisis was
a bad excuse: a sort of veto was given by The Netherlands, not to teach Tai-Ki-Ken to
the three Dutchmen.
Jan Plas and Jan van Looijen did not get back in touch with Akio Sawai during their stay in Japan. Peter van den Hemel did get in touch, and also visited a number of Tai-Ki-Ken lessons by master Kenichi Sawai.
So then the three Dutchmen sought their own way in Tokyo, they moved into a flat in the big city and thought of another study goal for their trip. No later than the day after their arrival, the trio went to the dojo of Oyama, which was located in the neighborhood Ikebekuro.
At the reception, the three revealed themselves as students of Jon Bluming from Amsterdam. The trio said they would stay in Tokyo for some time, and that they wanted to train in the
dojo of Oyama.
Right after, the trio was led to the main dojo, where about forty karateka’s were training.
Most of them were first dan or even higher, while there were also some more youthful talents with a lower belt. The training looked good, and it had a pretty high level.
At a certain moment, a highly graduated black belter, who was teaching right then, started yelling at a junior with a hare’s lip. This junior was probably about fourteen and he wore a yellow belt. The black belter shouted at the junior, in Japanese. Of course the Dutchmen didn’t understand what was being said, but it was unlikely that it was positive. The black belt then gave the junior a firm beating, he hit him hard and repeatedly on his shoulders, back and even on his head with a shinai.
The Dutchmen really disliked the abuse of the junior, stepped forward and said in English
that the abuse had to stop directly, because they would interfere otherwise. "The abuser", apparently startled by the trio’s reaction, stopped what he was doing right away. Then there was a conversation between the mostly highly graduated karateka’s and the Dutchmen.
While they said they understood the Dutchmen reaction, they also made it clear they were not amused. Because of what the Dutchmen did, they were told they were no longer welcome in the Oyama dojo. Two days in Tokyo, and already they were refused twice.
The Dutchmen then went to the martial arts trainer of the Tokyo police force. This trainer was called Miazyma (Phon) and this man had a high graduation in Judo and Ju-Jutsu. The dojo was located in the Ikebukuro police station, where about 250 Judo and Karate black belts served.
The Dutchmen were more than welcome at the dojo of the Tokyo police force.
All training facilities were made available, the Dutchmen were welcome to use these every day. Nothing was too much for Miazyma and with a letter of recommendation written by him, they could visit various other Martial Arts training centers of the police force.
The Dutchmen also visited the dojo of the police force where they could train Kendo. Miazyma organized karate and ju-jutsu technique trainings for them, and sparring sessions with the karateka’s of the police force were organized as well.
On a certain Wednesday evening, the Dutchmen were walking through Tokyo, and then they passed an event hall where they saw posters for Kickboxing. While they were looking at these curiously, they were addressed by a young Japanese man, who asked where they were from. The three Dutchmen said they were from the Netherlands, and he asked: “(…) Amsterdam,
do you know Bluming-san?”.
The Japanese man later turned out to be the Muay Thai Kickboxing champion,
Toshio Fujiwara. Fujiwara was a student of the Kyokushinkai Karate master Kenji Kurosaki. Kurosaki was the former 'left hand' of Mass Oyama. Kurosaki was the founder of Japanese Kick-boxing and a champion trainer through and through.
Fujiwara invited the Dutchmen to come watch the kickboxing event, which was organized in the event hall that evening. The Dutchmen were happy to accept the invitation, and thus they saw a kickboxing event for the first time. Fujiwara introduced them to Kenji Kurosaki. Kurosaki then invited the Dutchmen for a Kickboxing training, the next morning at five
in the morning.
The next morning, the Dutchmen went to the dojo of Kurosaki. The dojo was located
in the neighborhood Mejiro, on the eight floor of a tower block. In the dojo of Kurosaki,
the Dutchmen learned kickboxing according to the philosophy of master Kenji Kurosaki.
The training in Japan started at five in the morning every day, with a walking training of ten kilometers, and they stopped decently for every red traffic light. The streets of Tokyo were not exactly flat either. The walking training was guided by Fujiwara. After a short break to rest and eat, the next training was scheduled, supervised by Kenji Kurosaki. It was a cycle that went on all day, day in day out, for weeks. The three sparred with champions like Mitsuo Shima and Toshio Fujiwara, among others.
Kenji Kurosaki dealt with all kickboxing techniques, strategies and training methods.
The training was very hard, and they always had to show their fighting spirit. A rather new technique for the Dutchmen was the so-called Low-Kick, an attack-kick of the rear shin to the thigh of the opponent.
The Low-Kick became a powerful new weapon in their arsenal. The shins had to be hardened by kicking big truck tires, bats and rock-hard boxing bags filled with sand. Kurosaki also made a lot of time to train elbow techniques, clinching and throwing techniques.
In 1975, it wasn’t as easy as it is right now to take photos and videos everywhere.
The Dutchmen made notes and stayed in their flat to evaluate the techniques endlessly.
So in the end the study trip took a very good turn, which would mean a lot for the history
of kickboxing in the Netherlands.
When they arrived back in the Netherlands, the Dutchmen went on to share their new kickboxing knowledge with others: Jan Plas started teaching in an old boxing school,
the later world-famous Mejiro Gym Amsterdam. Peter van der Hemel went to teach
at the gym of Johan Vos. Jan van Looijen started to teach at the dojo of Jon Bluming in
De Bilt, and he also gave lessons to the Dutch Marine Corps and members of
the Amsterdam police force.
Kickboxing was a martial art that was not practiced in the Netherlands until 1975.
The valuable knowledge that they gathered in Japan was studied and refined more
in the Netherlands, and thus a new movement was established in the world
of kickboxing: Dutch Kickboxing.
In 1979, the Dutch Kickboxing Association (N.K.B.B.) was established.
Kickboxing became more and more popular in Holland. The first big events were hosted at the Jaap Edenhal in Amsterdam and it was in this period that the rivalry between Mejiro Gym, Vos Gym and Chakuriki started. This rivalry helped raise the standard of Dutch kickboxing and spawned some of the best fighters of the era.
Mejiro Gym Amsterdam
Jan Plas was in 1975 the founder of Mejiro Gym in Amsterdam. Boxing Gym Vermeulen provided accommodations for the newly formed Mejiro Gym Amsterdam. Among the first Mejiro Gym fighters were men like: Lucien Carbin, Johan Vos, Aris Koopman, Bert van Os, Thijs Veldman.
It was 1978 when they all moved to their own location at Lauriergracht 86 in Amsterdam. It was there that the now famous “Mejiro Style” was further developed and perfected. This resulted in the first of many national and international titles for Mejiro Gym.
Known as ‘The Dutchman’ and ‘Mr. Low Kick’, Rob Kaman is one of many famous Dutch fighters to make their mark in the history of kickboxing and Muay Thai. Training under Jan Plas at Mejiro Gym, Kaman would go on to have an extremely decorated career in kickboxing and Muay Thai. Kaman was known primarily for his devastating leg kicks which he perfected in Holland at the Mejiro Gym.
Under the guidance of Jan Plas, the Mejiro-Style produced many other big names. It’s a long history of many victories, titles, and successful careers. After André Mannaart took over as coach, under his guidance are names to find as Remy Bonjasky and Andy Souwer.
Chakuriki Gym was founded in 1972 by Thom Harinck, who originally began teaching his own style named "Chakuriki", a mixture of techniques of different martial arts. The Chakuriki fighters were known for their mental and physical toughness.
Chakuriki later became a kickboxinggym as Harinck added Muay Thaiand Savateto his repertoire.
In 1978, fighters from Chakuriki became the first Dutchto fight at Lumpini Stadiumin Bangkok, Thailand
The 1980s and early 1990s saw a new generation of kickboxers rise from Chakuriki such as Peter Aerts and Branko Cikatić who helped form the history of K-1.
Peter Aerts is known for his devastating high kicks, which earned him the nickname "The Dutch Lumberjack", he is widely considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight kickboxers of all time.
Vos Gym (sportschool Johan Vos)
In 1978, under the leadership of sensei Johan Vos, Sportschool Johan Vos is opened in the center of Amsterdam. Many champions were born through the very skilled and disciplined training of Johan Vos. Names such as Ernseto Hoost, Lucia Rijker, Ivan Hippolyte, Moesid Akamrane and many others.
In 1995 Johan Vos decided to stop as head of the Johan Vos gym. After some deliberation and preparation, the banner was eventually passed on to Ivan Hippolyte, who continues to teach there in general terms to this day. Champions were also born under the inspiring leadership of Sensei Ivan Hippolyte.