Kendo in Germany

Kendo in Germany – Attempt of a timeline – Version September 2017

Author: Tobias Kiefl (Kendo Regensburg)

Attempt of a timeline:

Erwin von Bälz was born.

1859 to 1862
Prussian Navy East Asia Expedition

Trade agreement between Japan and Prussia.

A Japanese legation visits Paris and London. Later they also visited Vienna & Berlin.

Founding of the German Empire

Japan at the World Exhibition in Vienna, Austria.
From this time on a passion for Japan sets in, not only in the german language areas, but in whole Europe. This can at best seen in the art of painting in the coming years.

Japanese Exhibition at the Gewerbemuseum in Berlin, Prussia

Erwin von Bälz begins his work in Japan.

Erwin von Bälz studies Kenjutsu under Sakakibara Kenkichi in Japan.

1885 – June
Exhibition “Japanische Kunstindustrie-Erzeugnisse” at the Hygiene-Park in Berlin, Prussia.
Her is the point where the first proof for Kenjutsu/Kendo in Germany can be found in form of a illustration.
Also like in London a Japanese Villiage was displayed.

Notice from the 7th of July 1885 in the “Berliner Tagblatt”-Newspaper:
In the first 14 days over 200.000 people visited the Exhibition.

The “Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung” and the “ Kladderadatsch“-Newspaper reported about this event.

1885 – A few months after the Exhibition in Berlin, Prussia.
The Japanese Exhibition also takes place in Munich, Bavaria.
Also with high visitor numbers.

Erwin von Bälz returns to Germany.

First ever photography of Kendo in Germany.
Performed by two ladies at the Berlin Ladies Fencing Academy.
As seen in the „Sport im Bild“-Magazine – Issue: November 1909

Erwin von Bälz passed away.

End of the German Empire.

1965 – November
After a visit to Japan Mr. Gerd Wischnewski – (shown at the pictures) founds a Kendo Section at the 1.JJC Wiesbaden Judo Club.
Wischnewski holds the rank of 2. Dan im Aikidō, 2. Dan Judo, 2. Dan Kendo, 1. Dan Karate.
His first students are Eberhard Riemann & Gerd Walsdorf.
Mr. Wischnewski (1.JJC Wiesbaden/Student of Morihei Ueshiba ) brings also Aikido to Germany.

1967 – January
First-time participation of the German Judo Federation (Deutscher Judo Bund – DJB) at the annual general meeting of the Oshu (European) Kendo Renmei in Brussels (represented by Mr. Riemann, Head of the Kendo-Section at the Judo Club Wiesbaden 1922 e.V.)

The meeting was attended by over 30 kendoka from all over Europe, and was held in the Yama Arashi Dojo under the auspices of the Association Belge d’Aikido, Kendo et Arts Martiaux (ABAKAM). Two delegates, Friedhelm Dockendorf (6-kyū, Cologne) and Eberhard Riemann (5-kyū, Wiesbaden) attended on West Germany’s behalf.

1967 – 14.-19.August
First International Kendo-Summerseminar in Wiesbaden under the direction of Mr. Gerd Wischnewski.

1969 – 31.December
Founding of the Kendo-Section at the German Judo Federation.
Chairman: Wolfgang Remp, Mannheim
Vize-chairman: Wolfgang Demski, Berlin
Clerk: Eberhard Riemann, Wiesbaden.

1970 – 21.-22.November
At the Hotel Singer in Wiesbaden the Kendo-Section of the German Dan-Kollegium (DDK) is founded. Founding members:
Mr. Hans-Jürgen Casper
Mr. Wolfgang Demski
Mr. Paul-Otto Forstreuter
Mr. Wolfgang Remp
Mr. Eberhard Riemann
Mr. Gert Walsdorf

First contact to japanese Kendo teachers of the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei and the Waseda University of Tokyo.

Gerd Wischnewski retires out of health reasons from Kendo and Aikido.

1971 – 09.October
In Wiesbaden the first official Kendo-comparative battle
in the DJB takes place. It is a city-duel between Berlin/Hamburg & Wiesbaden/Mannheim.
The team from Wiesebaden/Mannheim takes the victory.

1971 – 23. October
First meeting of the Kendo-country clerks in Braunschweig.
Wolfgang Remp from Mannheim is elected to be the Federal Chairman of the Kendo Section.
Diploma sports-teacher Yasumasa Kaneda is called to be the first national-consultant.

Accession of the Federal Republic of Germany to the International Kendo-Organisations.
Wolfgang Demski becomes Auditor to the European Kendo Federation (EKF) and Director of the International Kendo Federation (IKF, later FIK)

First national-competition versus Schweden in Stockholm.

First German Individual-Championship.

Second national-competition versus France in Paris.

Introduction of the office „National Coach“ in cooperation with the Zen Nihon Kendō Renmei . First national-coach is Mr. Itoh Katsuhiko

Third national-competition versus England in London.

First European Championship in Bletchley, England.

1974 – November
Kyudo, the japanese Art of Archery, was added to the DJB and is subordinated to the Kendo-section.

First german Kendo-Team-Competition.

Fourth national-competition versus Italy in Milan.

First participation of a west-german team at the World Championship in
Milton Keynes (UK).

First participation of a west-german team at the European Championship in Brussels (Belgium).

Vice-European champion title at the team-competition in Chambery (France).

Second participation of a west-german team at the World Championship in in Sapporo/Japan.

First Woman- and Junior-Tournament in Germany.

West-Germany is organizer of the European Championship in Berlin.
Results: European Champion at the Mens-Individual Competition and Vice-Champion at the Mens-Team-Competition.

Wolfgang Demski is elected chairman of the Kendo-Section at the DJB.

The West-German-Mens-Team wins the European Team Championship.

First german Shinpans at the European Championship.

Founding of the Austrian Kendo Association in Vienna (AKA).

The West-German-Mens-Team wins the European Team Championship.

First german Shinpans at the World Championship.

The German Reunion.

Germany is organizer of the European Championship in Berlin.

A united German-Team wins the European Woman-Team Championship.
European Champion at the Mens-Individual Competition.

The German Kendo Federation (DkenB) is founded in Lindow/Mark.
Member of the DJB with special task-position.

Germany wins bronze at the Women-Competition of the World Championship.

Germany wins bronze at the Women-Competition of the World Championship.

Germany wins bronze at the Women-Competition of the World Championship.

Germany is organizer of the European Championship in Berlin.

2017 – 25th of March
Gerd Wischnewski dies at the age of 87 in Austria.

German results till 2017 at the European Kendo Championship

Men’s Team Division
Gold: 1
Silver: 7
Bronze: 5
Total: 13

Individual Champions (Men)
1981 – H.Bier
1986 – J.Potrafki
1987 – J.Potrafki
1992 – R.Lehmann
1995 – R.Lehmann

Women’s Team Division
Gold: 7
Silver: 3
Bronze: 1
Total: 11

Individual Champions (Women)
1990 – A.Neumeister
1992 – A.Esshaki
2008 – Susanne Aoki
2010 – Sabrina Kumpf
2013 – Safiyah Fadai ( Safiyah Peric )
2015 – K.Köppe

German results till 2017 at the World Kendo Championship

Women’s Team
Bronze: 3

I beg your pardon, if I made any mistakes.
Please feel free to complete, correct me, comment and discuss with us.
Help us to shine a light on the past.


Kendo in Germany – Prof. Erwin von Bälz

Author: Tobias Kiefl

Born: 13.01.1849 in Bietigheim (Germany)
Died: 31.08.1913 in Stuttgart (Germany)

Nationality: German

Erwin Otto Eduard Bälz was a german internist, anthropologist, foreign advisor in Japan.
Together with his collegue Professor Julius Karl Scriba he was one of the cofounders of modern western medicine in Japan.
He served as a field doctor in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
From 1876 he worked at the Medical College of the Tokyo Imperial University.
He stayed in Japan for 29 years and teached over 800 students in western medicine.
Also he was a consultant for the Imperial Japanese Ministry of Health, supervisor of the University Hospital and had a own doctor’s office.
His medical abilities lead him to be the court physician of the Japanese Imperial Family and especially for the crown prince.
In 1905 he returned to Germany where he died in 1913.

So where are the links to Kendo/Kenjutsu?

During his time in Japan Erwin Bälz and other foreigners learned Kenjutsu under the guidance of the famous Sakakibara Kenkichi who was the initiator of the Gekiken Kogyo performances, the fourteenth headmaster of the Jikishinkage school of sword fighting and one of the fathers of modern kendo.
Although we couldn’t find a proof that von Bälz gave Kenjutsu lessions after his return to Germany, it could be possible.

Prof.Dr. Von Bälz became also a fan of Ju-jutsu/Judo and is credited with introducing the sport to Germany.

This is just a short summary of his life. There are many tales and merits on Prof.Dr. Von Bälz account. You can find many great books out there about this fascinating person. Unfortunatly many are just in german. For me Prof.Dr. Von Bälz was also unknown a few months ago. But thanks to Paul Budden Sensei there was a box full of stories and adventures opened. Many thanks at this point also to the Deutsch-Japanische Gesellschaft Baden-Württemberg & especially to Dr. Susanne Germann who wrote such a great book on Prof. Dr. Von Bälz and her help in reasearch aspects.