Sydney Leijenhorst

Though my first ‘job’ and passion was teaching martial arts, I did my education in healthcare. Once I finished high school, I started studying physical therapy, and successfully completed my degree. After that, I worked as a physical therapist for a few years, as a freelancer and for myself. Disappointed with the lack of depth and versatility of the job, I started to focus more on Eastern forms of medicine, something I had become interested in during my studies. Eventually, I concentrated myself on the different forms of meditation and yoga that I encountered, something which I have been doing for more than 20 years now. Recently, I have also been teaching Tibetan forms of meditation and yoga. Furthermore, since 2000, I have been giving personal consultations, or something I like to call ‘good conversations’.

Besides the activities at KenKon, I regularly teach abroad, mostly in qigong (Chinese Yoga) and karate. In the past, I have also given classes and advice in mental health institutions, about ‘dealing with physical aggression’, mostly for the Consultation and Expertise Centre in Zeeland and Zuid-Holland. I have also done exploratory research on this topic.

Concerning martial arts: I am in possession of a 1st dan in judo, a 1st dan in pancrase, a 2nd dan in shaolin kempo, and a 6th dan in karate (IOGKF). I have participated in many competitive martial arts, such as judo, all-style, semi-contact, shobu sanbon, kata and iri kumi. My most illustrious competitive achievement has been a gold medal at the ’94 IOGKF World Championship in the ‘iri kumi teams’ category, and an 8th place in the kata category. As a teacher, I have been active for more than 25 years, teaching various martial arts.

Jan Weijers, and later Joop Hellegers were my main teachers of judo; shaolin kempo and kung-fu (wushu) I learned from Klaas Padberg Evenboer, whereas Jeff Hasbrouck and his teacher Lai Ng Sam taught me hung gar kung-fu. Goju-ryu karate was taught to me by Harry de Spa. Now, Morio Higaonna is my direct teacher, and I represent him as Chief Instructor in the Netherlands.

I receive my teaching in Chinese yoga and meditation from many different teachers. The most influential ones were Zhang Yu, Shen HongXun, Lu GuanJun, Bruce Francis, Yang JwingMing, Chrissie Coburn Krzowska and Ji JianCheng. I was also taught in taijiquan, a kind of martial form of qigong, by Maerle Willemnier, Henny van der Heijden, Jeff Hasbrouck, Peter Ralston (Cheng Hsin) and Shen HongXun.

I got acquainted with meditation in 1977, and arrived, via Chinese yoga and Zen meditation, at the Tibetan forms of meditation that have become my source of knowledge. From the many teachers I had, the most influential ones were, in very different ways: Lama Chime, Chrisie Coburn Krzowska, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Dagsay Tulku, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, Lama Kunga and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. My ‘root teacher’ is Lama Chime.

Regarding modern integral presentations of Buddhism and spirituality, Irini Rockwell, Diane Musho Hamilton and Terry Patten were my main sources of inspiration.

More about lineage – The perpetuation of gratefulness

As a director, I have several functions in the world of martial arts over the years. I have coordinated the ‘NOGKA Instructors Course’ for more than 4 years, served on the kata committee of the KBN (Dutch Karate Federation), and spent more than 3 years as administrative and technical chairman of the IOGKF Netherlands (which has approx. 600 members), for which I am now Chief Instructor. I also teach at the teacher’s academy of the KBN, the NCS (Dutch Cultural Sports Federation) and the FOG (Federation for Eastern Martial Arts).

I have a ton of experience with organising courses. For example, I worked for more than 5 years as an ‘impresario’ for Shen HongXun, Chinese teacher in Chinese remedial gymnastics. I also set up many activities, trainings and courses, both for KenKon and for various organisations, such as NOGKA, KBN and IOGKF Netherlands). However, I consider myself anything but complete, and prefer to work with others who are on a similar wavelength. Unsurprisingly, KenKon’s owes a great deal of its success to students, friends, family and other generous people.

I currently teach:

  • Karate (Okinawa goju-ryu)
  • Chinese yoga (qigong)
  • Tibetan meditation and yoga
  • Dealing with (physical) aggression in the care for the disabled
  • Integral Life Practice / Integral Bodywork / Embodyment

Concerning my private life: I have a lively family with a wife and three children, aged 30, 25 and 19.

My current ambitions are the following:

  1. Getting KenKon a long-term location.
  2. Delve deeper into the different disciplines that I practice, such as Tibetan meditation, yoga and qigong.
  3. Contributing to an integral understanding of the practice of martial arts, yoga, meditation and other disciplines, partly inspired by Ken Wilber’s work.
  4. Broadening, consolidating and deepening KenKon as a community of teachers, students and instructors.
  5. Contributing to a network of trainers with similar ambitions and inspirations.