“I’m trying to be for instead of against”, was the first thing Sveneric Bogsater
told me when I started to interview him. In front of me there is an impressive
53 year young man, 12th dan Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. He belongs to the
world’s finest in our martial art. But you’ll never notice that, except when you
see him playing around on the tatami. In spite of his status, he remained down
to earth and freindly. In fact his friendliness is one of the first things you notice
when you go to a seminar taught by him.
With that first sentence he meant that you always have to approach things in a
positive way. He tries to be as optimistic and happy as possible in life, this by
always being positive. “Don’t be against war, be for peace”. “Don’t tell anyone
to quit smoking because he will die if he doesn’t. No, tell him he’ll live longer if
Off course it isn’t possible to be like this day in day out, but it can help you to
find peace and harmony in your life. I’ve met Sveneric a couple of times now
and in my personal opinion he has to be very close to complete harmony and
happyness in his life. In my opinion, his worldy wisdom will probably have
something to do with his age too, because experience means a great deal, also
in daily life.
Before I start to tell you the history of his martial life, some facts. At the
moment of writing (3/9/2000), Sveneric is 53 and he’s married to 11th dan
Mariette van der Vliet. He claims to have 3 children, namely 2 cats and a dog.
He lives in Holland for about 7 years now (He was born in Sweden as you all
When Sveneric was about 5, he was a small and slender kid (you really can’t
imagine if you see him now). He told me he was afraid of everything and in his
own words “I was a fucking coward”. At some point the girls in school had to
defend him in a fight (well this sounds familiar, check Takamatsu sensei’s bio).
His father was a police officer and eventually told the boy that although use of
violence is wrong, he had to stick up for himself. To help the little Sveneric, his
dad took him to the police school where they practiced wrestling (Greek-
Roman style). The small kid didn’t like it at all, he didn’t like the feeling of the
sweaty bodies while entangled in a fight…. it wasn’t something for a kid like
He often complained about that to his father, and someday some policeman of
the youth-section overheard them and suggested that Sveneric would take up
Judo. That was the beginning of the martial life of Sveneric, since that day he
never quit practicing martial arts, he always studied, worked hard and
improved his skills.
Age 15, he took up Kyokushinkai karate (a full contact karate style). He did
this for about 10 years. Sveneric quit Kyokushinkai karate when it changed
structure (when he came back from his military service). He thought that there
was too much emphasis on the competition. People where pushed to compete
in full contact fights before they were ready for it, all for the glory of the club.
The following year, he practiced some other style karate (Wado ryu if I’m not
At that point in life, Sveneric was looking for the philosophy behind martial
arts, therefore he started practicing Aikido. But with his long history as
Karateka that didn’t work out very well (as we all know, those 2 systems are
quite different). So eventually Aikido didn’t work out the way he wanted and he
didn’t find any philosophy there either. “If even Aikido has no philosophy deep
within, I can better concentrate on the true roots of martial arts, and that is
fighting!” Sveneric thought, and he joined a ju-jutsu club (after about 2 years
of Aikido). In the next 12 year of ju-jutsu he studied about 3 styles.
In the club where he practised ju-jutsu, different martial arts where taught,
including Judo. When a certain person called Bo Munte (you already see where
this is leading too…) got his judo shodan, he received a book. The book was
about Ninjutsu. Bo got interested and went to Japan to meet Hatsumi Sensei
(~ 1970). After his return Bo started teaching ninjutsu in his garage.
That was the true beginning of ninjutsu in Europe, the first European got in
touch with ‘The martial arts of distance’.
In 1983 Bo opened his first real dojo. This was the beginning of Sveneric’s
Bujinkan adventure that till this day on still continues. The real beginning,
because at that point he quit all other martial arts. It was also the year in
which he went to Japan to meet Hatsumi sensei for the first time. The dojo
flourished and Sveneric became instructor together with Larry Jonsson. Small
note: Larry Jonsson is not a student of Sveneric (as is often wrongly
suggested), he started ninujtsu a year earlier than Sveneric. Of that first group
of Europeans that started Bujinkan there are still 4 persons active at this
That small group introduced Europe to ninjutsu. Sveneric and Bo went to
Spain, Ireland, Holland, Great-Brittain, …. to teach people the Bujinkan system
and make it as well known as it now is.