From Holland to O’Hara’s

Mar 04, 2012

Review of Rico van Veenendaal’s visit to NY
February 3rd & 4th, 2012: Jinenkan Dōjōchō Rico van Veenendaal from the Mononofu Dōjō in Schiedam, Netherlands visited New York during the first week of August for training and to teach a weekend workshop. Rico had recently traveled to Japan to train with Unsui Sensei, so it only made sense that when he wanted to visit New York, we wanted him to teach! So the plan was set to have Rico and his wife Liona visit New York for training, teaching and a good night out on the town.

True to the New York Dōjō form, when Rico arrived he got right onto the mat for training regardless of the long trip and time difference. The next few days would be defined by hours of strikes and takedowns characteristic of the Shinkengata Taijutsu, plus a few extra bruises and minor injuries.

Training over the next few days began early and went into the early evening, quickly completing the kihon gata and shodan patterns of the Tora no Maki. Led by Adam Mitchell, this training was attended by yudansha from the Jinenkan Kōsei Gōgi Dōjō as well as our friend and colleague from Los Angeles, Marc Franco.

Half way through the last day of his training, Rico was brought down by what appeared to be a severe ankle injury. At first the fear was a break, certainly something had at least been torn. Quite a let down for everyone, considering the high anticipation of Rico’s first US workshop was scheduled to begin only hours from then. Fortunately Marc, a certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine began working immediately on Rico’s ankle and leg.

Rico, a graduate of the Qing Bai Academy and practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine was able to work with Marc’s input along with his own understanding of how to fix himself. Within an hour Rico went from not being able to stand and in complete agony, to walking without a limp.

That evening he bowed in a class with students attending from all over the north east. He taught without any notice of injury or pain.

The focus of training for the first evening was the beginning of the Gyokko Ryū Chū Ryaku no Maki, the middle strategy scroll. Rico began his teaching with an excellent warm up and moved right into kata Ujaku. The premise of the training would be centered around the ura gata, orthodox variations of the form, designed to allow the practitioner to consider the strategy and principles within the form under varied conditions of stress and attack.

​With a strong attendance, the training level was top notch.

Saturday morning began early with the testing of Kōsei Gōgi Dōjō student Christy Tyberg who successfully passed her Shōdan test. 

Training that day consisted of completing the middle level scroll of the Gyokko Ryū along with the ura gata as taught to Rico by Usnui Sensei and Rico’s teacher, Mario DeMol. Other Jinenkan Dōjōchō who attended Rico’s workshop included Chad Flakker (PA), Amanda Charrier (MD) and Evan London (CT).

Following the training that afternoon, Adam and his wife Laura joined Rico and Liona to New York City for a night out. The evening began meeting with Marc at his suite on Lexington Ave. where he was staying while in town for business. Following a nice dinner, the group made it downtown to visit Ground Zero. As it was late in the evening, certainly there would be no tourist spot open and with the frigid temperature there was not a person on the streets. Adam took the initiative to bring the group to a place he’d visited when Unsui Sensei had visited New York and took a tour of Ground Zero, O’Hara’s Pub.

The pub had an interesting story he’d heard from his previous visit and thought it would be a great way for them to finish the night. The pub, situated across the street from WTC, had an interesting story Adam had heard from his previous visit. He thought it would be a great way for them to finish the night.

The pub was empty for the exception of a few regulars, but the friendly barman was quick to seat the group and order up a few pints and a hot coffee. When he returned, Adam introduced the guests from out of town and asked the barman if he could share a little of O’Hara’s story from 911. Proudly, the barman returned to the table with photograph books of the pub and scenes from 911 that nobody at the table had ever seen before.

​The barman pulled a large framed photo from the wall and brought it to the table to share. Being from the Netherlands, New York or Los Angeles, it made no difference where anyone at the table was from. Reflecting on the photos of 911 from a perspective rarely seen by anyone was a humbling moment, in the right place, at the right time and with the right people. Ichi-go, ichi-e, and an excellent way to finish a night in one of the world’s greatest cities. True to the New York Dōjō form.

We look forward to having Rico back once again in the coming year.


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