December 2016 was a busy month at Shiranamikai. For the last month of the year, we had a lot to cram in…
Christmas Dinner, 17th December
Enjoyed our traditionally, non-traditional club Christmas dinner, which doubled-up as a leaving party for Kentaro. As well as a chance to say goodbye it was also a good opportunity to get to know the new members of Shiranamikai. Needless to say, we all had a cracking time!
Last Training Before Christmas, 21st December
I was intending to run some games in order to win some sweet prizes during the latter part of the session but actually, exercising beneath those toasty, synthetic Santa hats was deserving enough of a treat. Plus, the three kata requests of Jion, Kanku Dai and Unsu didn’t leave much time for anything else. Thanks to those who brought along mince pies and chocolates for snacking on afterwards!
Keiko Osame, 27th December
The last lesson of the year was a free session, a small gift back to all of you. Coming the day after Boxing Day, the timing was perfect to get moving after several days of sedentaryness. The suggestion was to bring along any leftovers from Christmas so that we could help each other polish them off after training but I nearly ended up leaving with more than I had brought along myself! Never mind :-)
The 27th was also Kentaro’s last club karate session for a while. Kentaro, Hina, Miyuki & Hisaharu, we wish you all the very best for the future and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Shiranamikai members enjoyed a lively Sunday afternoon, bouncing around Oxygen freejump centre. Most were straight into the dodgeball arena where, given the energy spent and a feel of my t-shirt, I was sure we spent a good half-hour. In reality it was just ten minutes.
We witnessed some impressive jumps and backflips on the larger trampolines while the pugil sticks provided a challenge for competitive types and entertainment for those watching. The most difficult part here was surpressing the urge to jump over the foam pit when losing (balance)!
If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball
Once the hour slot was up (an hour of this was more than enough), we retreated to the cafe to recharge with some much needed refreshments.
We had some exciting weather during this, our second, beach gasshuku: warm and sunny on Thursday, mild with light showers Friday (great for keeping cool) and on Saturday, strong winds that whisked up a light sandstorm (apply sun cream in these conditions for a great skin exfoliant).
Beach training sessions are more relaxed than regular classes but provide superb physical benefits: the unsteady sand base causes lost spring and momentum, forcing a greater reliance on the important core muscles to maintain stability and direct ones’ power.
During our four sessions we covered Heian Shodan, Sandan and Yondan, and Kanku Dai. Partner exercises used the katas’ elements of tai sabaki, foot sweeps, joint locks and take-downs.
Between training sessions there was plenty to do away from the water: walking through picturesque Rye town, visiting its shops and tea rooms, appreciating the views from St Mary’s church, Epryes Tower and the old fortifications. Further along the coast, is Dungeness with its nature reserve, narrow gauge railway and old lighthouse. All set against a backdrop of a flat, barren, post-apocolyptic-looking landscape. Striking.
With fifteen of us down there, plus Cocoa and Sensei Sho, eating out together was always going to prove tricky but we all came together on Saturday evening for a delicious home-prepared dinner.
At this year’s summer camp, we looked at body alignment, posture and the mechanics of making smooth transition between positions. Body control is fundamental to making efficient movement in karate.
Monday through to Thursday was a mixture of control exercises, kumite and kata with applications. Each day we also recapped on the previous days’ technical information. Friday, was a kata-only session to revisit our four primary course katas to check everyone could remember the applications in their groups and explain what they were doing. It is important to be able to show an understanding of the meaning behind each movement of a kata. This in turn, contributes to a better impression of the kata when performing. Explaining what you are doing while you are doing it is very difficult!
Our primary katas were Heian Nidan, Heian Godan, Bassai Dai and Gankaku. We also squeezed in Sochin on Friday, before wrapping up the training and taking a leisurely stroll to enjoy a delicious lunch for a proper finish to the week’s training.
To those who attended each day, well done, you receive a certificate for your efforts! Five students got special mention for training in the evening at the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions – every possible Shiranamikai lesson over the five day period.
Put the first week of August in your diary for 2017, beginning Monday 31st July – Friday 4th August. In the meantime, we have beach training to look forward to in just under two weeks time!
For three days on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday preceeding the August Bank Holiday weekend, Shiranamikai held its first beach gasshuku (or ‘Shelanamikai’ as it became affectionately known) at Camber Sands, Sussex.
At the start of each session we had a gentle jog along the beach to help us warm up. Thursday and Friday we had the place pretty much to ourselves but on Saturday morning, the amazing weather brought everybody flocking to the beach. Fortunately the coastline at Camber is vast and has a gentle incline so there was still plenty of space to train on one of the many banks of sand closer to the sea. Nobody kicked sand in our faces. But they didn’t need to anyway as we seemed quite adept at doing it to ourselves. (Have you ever tried doing mae geri on a sandy beach?)
We had a total of four chilled training sessions, during which we practised Heians Shodan, Nidan and Godan, Kanku Dai, Empi and Sochin. The evenings too were enjoyable with a great bunch; back at the cottage, dinner included delicious takoyaki, courtesy of Sonoko and Miyuki and a tasty barbecue with lots of fruit and veg. With Camber being just over two-hours’ drive from London, we’ll definitely be doing it again next year!
Once training had finished on Saturday, there was just enough time for a splash around in the sea before a quick change, bite to eat, and shooting back to Swiss Cottage for our afternoon session.
Back at the dojo, it was the last* club session of the year for Sonoko, Anju and Yuma until they return next summer. We all wish them our very best and hope that they enjoy training in Japan.
*Nearly the last as they were back on Sunday morning… then trained on Monday evening too! See you soon, ladies!
This year during summer camp we looked at Kihon kata, Heians Nidan through to Godan, Jion, Empi, Unsu, Nijushiho and Sochin. Team exercises helped students explore the meaning of each sequence.
There were some very creative interpretations and entertaining demonstrations (!) but everybody worked well together to show their understanding of the kata bunkai.
After our final session on Friday it was off for some well-deserved sushi – a fitting end to the week’s training.
To those who attended each day, well done, you get a certificate for your efforts. Two students received merit for also training Tuesday and Wednesday evening, while three picked up distinction for outstanding attendance by coming Saturday and Sunday too – that’s every possible Shiranamikai lesson over the whole week!
After training on Saturday, we were out to eat again for Sonoko, Anju and Yuma’s farewell dinner!
Put the first week of August in your diary for next year: Monday 1st-Friday 5th August 2016.
This year’s spring course was the biggest-attended JKA England gasshuku by far, and on the Saturday and Sunday, The K2’s huge sports hall was packed.
Our instructors for the weekend were Imamura Tomio 7th Dan and Shiina Mai 3rd Dan from the JKA Honbu, Omura Fujikiyu 7th Dan from JKA Thailand, and JKA England’s Ohta Yoshinobu 7th Dan. This year also saw instructors from JKA England’s technical committee teach for the first time at one of our international courses.
Training was organised slightly differently this time; basics and kumite was still in grade groups but after the halfway break, 3rd Kyu and above were able to choose which of the selected katas they wished to practise on each day. Beginners up to 4th kyu remained in their own group for Heian and Tekki Shodan katas.
Sensei Imamura and Sensei Omura have visited England before to teach, and their lessons this time were superb as expected. In contrast, Shiina Sensei was visiting the UK for the first time so there was much anticipation.
Her kumite drills reinforced the fact that there is no such thing as ‘basic’ kumite. Her timing changes kept everyone on their toes and her speed, power and technique really impressed. She finished off her session with touch-reaction training. It was clear how everybody, whilst trying their best, was enjoying it, making for a great atmosphere!
Training on the last day culminated with Ohta Sensei calling each kata in turn giving brown and black belts an opportunity to perform their favourite kata of the weekend in front of all present for final pointers and corrections.
On the Sunday there was a dan grading and congratulations go to Sonoko on passing her Shodan!
It wouldn’t feel like a proper gasshuku without a club side trip! This time we visited the Bluebell Railway, travelled on a steam train and then on to a local pub for a hearty dinner.
The next JKA England gasshuku runs from 11-13th September with Senseis Imura 7th Dan from Tokyo and Sawada 7th Dan from Belgium and Ohta Sensei from England.
For the past three years, midway through the school summer holiday, Shiranamikai has run a five-day training camp. As well as breaking up the long school holiday, the aim is to show a different side of karate to that which we would normally have time for during regular sessions; to learn new katas and the application of techniques.
A wardrobe/brain malfunction had me looking less than formal on arrival for the first day, raising quite a few eyebrows as a result. Although some karate styles often practise without their tops on, Shotokan is not one of them. So instead, my new t-shirt received a harsh but satisfying Christening.
This year, with a higher proportion of brown and black belts than on previous camps, we had tougher basics and kumite drills leading up to senior katas: Empi, Jion, Gankaku, Kanku Dai, Kanku Sho and Gojushiho Sho. We’ll continue to practise these katas when time allows during our regular classes this year.
Just to reiterate what I said during the training though: it’s nice to know lots of different katas and good to practise them as it will undoubtably help your development. But it is essential that you focus primarily on one kata at a time; that being your own personal favourite or the one prescribed for your next grading level.
Well done to everybody who trained over the full week but especially those who still attended their regular classes on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.
As in previous years, after the Friday morning session, we all trundled off to enjoy a delicious sushi lunch, topped off by mochi ice cream!
Please put 3rd-7th August 2015 into your diary for next year’s Summer Training Camp!
Learn authentic Shotokan karate as taught by the Japan Karate Association. Come and join our karate classes in Harrow-on-the-Hill, Swiss Cottage, West Hampstead and Stanmore.