Kobilza and the ISTB
The year 1997 marked a turning point in the spread of Takeda Budo outside of Japan. After the ties were severed between Maroteaux and Nakamura, and therefore also between the EST (European Sobukai Takedaryu) and the NSR (Nihon Sobudo Rengokai), sole responsibility for the further development of Takeda Ryu Nakamura Ha lay with Siegfried Kobilza. Soke Nakamura valued Kobilza’s work very highly, not only because of the high level of proficiency with which he represents Takeda Budo, but also because of the absolute authenticity of his teaching. After having already been the highest-ranked and most extensively taught master of Takeda Budo outside of Japan for some years, Kobilza was awarded the Okuden Menkyo and became Shihan of the secret (internal) level of the school.
At the fifth international congress for Takeda Budo in July 1997, his long-time assistant and another important pioneer of Takeda Budo, Pierre Glorion, was promoted to Joden Shihan. Shihan Glorion was also appointed chief director of the ISTB Shidoshinsahonbu (the highest instructors’ council of the ISTB) and still holds this position today.
The first international tournament (a cooperation between NSR and ISTB) was held in Japan in December of this year, and the European participants made a very respectable showing in spite of the fact that they had no tournament experience whatsoever.
The ISTB organized a trip to Japan for this event and to give its members an opportunity to gain their personal experience about the country and its culture.
Motivated by the events of the previous few years, Nakamura and Kobilza came to an agreement that there should be only one leading representative of the School in Europe, and a contract was concluded to fix this arrangement on January 5, 1998. This contract made Kobilza the exclusive and comprehensively authorized representative of Soke Nakamura and granted him sole authority to teach Takeda Budo and to authorize others to teach it. From this point on, the ISTB that Kobilza established was the only legitimate organization for Takeda Budo outside of Japan.
Richard Gillet from Belgium and his organization (Sobukai de Wallonie), which had previously been members of the EST and which were still involved in a legal dispute with Kobilza, requested to join the ISTB. After hesitating initially because this group had attacked his representative in Belgium, Kobilza finally agreed to grant them membership. In doing so, Kobilza showed his good faith and brought the legal dispute in Belgium to an end.
The ISTB stepped up its activities in France during the year and hosted its first international seminar with Soke Nakamura, Shihan Morita and Shihan Kobilza in Paris.
In celebration of ten years of membership in the Nakamura School, the ISTB's headquarters arranged a fantastic budo exhibition in Arlon and Liege together with its Belgian group. The show was coordinated by Sensei Debot and featured Soke Nakamura, Shihan Kobilza and other leading masters from Japan, as well as selected students from Budokan Arlon. In cooperation with the Belgian national broadcasting company, the ISTB produced an impressive video titled Takeda Ryu - The Spirit of Fighting that documents the high quality of the ISTB's work to date. The video is now available on DVD.
2000 till 2004
As the highest-ranking Sensei after Shihan Glorion, Günther Fleischer was appointed deputy chief director of the ISTB Shidoshinsahonbu.
The first of a series of regular ISTB seminars was held in Paris in 2000. The ISTB further expanded its activities and opened new clubs in France, Switzerland and Romania.
Sensei Gillet and his group left the ISTB and founded the ESR (European Sobudo Rengokai) together with Sensei Ib Nyborg. The objective of this federation was to promote Takeda Ryu Nakamura Ha. This union between Gillet and Nyborg was not long-lived, however. Gillet, the founder and president of the ESR, severed his ties with Nyborg and the ESR after a few years and is now directing the SKW (Sobukai de Wallonie), which currently operates three dojos.
In 2001, Soke Nakamura issued a proclamation confirming Shihan Kobilza as his sole representative in Europe and confirming his exclusive and comprehensive rights.
In the same year, Sensei Kobilza published his book Takeda Ryu Sobudo - The Comprehensive Martial Arts of Takeda Ryu (in German). The manual is the first of its kind in the world, is the "bible" of Takeda Budo, and is a milestone in the international spread of Takeda Ryu Sobudo.
As a supplement to Kobilza's manual, Sensei Fleischer and Sensei Walter produced a DVD with the assistance of Sensei Peter Moser that was approved as a teaching aid by Sensei Kobilza. This teaching aid is only given to the sensei of the ISTB and shows the basic program for Takeda Ryu Aikido, Iaido, Jodo, Jukempo and Kendo based on the first edition of Kobiza's manual for Takeda Budo.
ISTB teachers DVD-Rom
In 2003, Pierre Glorion was promoted to Okuden Shihan, and Günther Fleischer, Valmy Debot, Christian Walter were promoted to Joden Shihan, and finally Markus Rockenbach, also a member of the ISTB Shidoshinsahonbu, was promoted to Chuden Kyohan. These Sensei are true pioneers and have made enormous contributions to the development of the ISTB and have played an important part in assisting Sensei Kobilza in spreading Takeda Budo.
Sensei Glorion (photo on the right) was a dedicated disciple and pioneer of the School from the very start and, in acting as Kobilza's assistant for the first fifteen years, played a key role in training the European instructors and in establishing and maintaining the generally high level of teaching quality in the ISTB's dojos. Valmy Debot was instrumental in establishing and expanding the ISTB's Benelux group in the 1990s, and also assisted with establishing the ISTB in France. Sensei Günther Fleischer and Christian Walter have also long been dedicated to faithfully representing Takeda Budo and the ISTB and have played a very important role in improving the level of the ISTB's students and instructors by assisting Sensei Kobilza at countless national and international seminars.
The ISTB organized a second twelve-day trip to Japan in 2004 that over forty people participated in, in part because of the great success of the first trip.
The most important event for the ISTB in 2005 was without a doubt the meeting in December between Sensei Kobilza and his most trusted advisors, the members of the ISTB Shidoshinsahonbu. After intense discussion, the decision was made at this meeting that Sensei Kobilza will cease representing the Nakamura School. This marks the end of an era in which Takeda Budo earned a great deal of respect outside of Japan, in which Sensei Kobilza made his own decisive mark on Takeda Budo, and in which he worked tirelessly to cultivate a passion and understanding among scores of budoka for this unique and outstanding tradition.
At the same time however, this marks the beginning of a new era of Takeda Budo practice, that of Takeda Ryu Kobilza Ha and of the International Society for Takeda Budo (ISTB), which was established and is directed by Siegfried Kobilza and which now represents this independent branch of Takeda Budo.