From time to time we like to invite guest instructors to the club. Experiencing the different teaching styles and body dynamics of other instructors helps to broaden your karate horizons. And to have a fresh pair of eyes scrutinising your karate can serve as an incentive to make you work that little bit harder.
Sensei Sue Waughman 4th Dan JKA is an instructor at London’s Budokai dojo and trained at Takushoku University under Tsuyama Sensei in Japan during the 1980s. As such she is no stranger to pressurised training environments in which students are pushed to give their best.
Sensei delivered the lesson with lots of passion. She demanded complete concentration and encouraged us to start our movements explosively. “Usain Bolt!” she cried out, requiring us to emulate one of the greatest 100 metre sprinters of all time.
As we stood balanced on one leg during practise for mae-geri, Sensei encouraged the juniors to challenge themselves. “Anybody…” she said, dropping the knee of the kicking leg lower than the ideal preparation position and letting her ankle loosen. Then in contrast, keeping the leg tightly tucked and the ankle flexed correctly, “…A world champion!”. Sensei also directed a lot of pressure towards our seniors, driving them to perform kumite over and over again until she was satisfied.
One thing that you cannot help but have noticed is Sensei Sue’s all or nothing approach – for her, training comes first and anything less than 100% will not do. We train to develop truly powerful and focused techniques, such that one decisive technique is all that would be required if a physical confrontation became unavoidable.
The somewhat intimidating expression ‘ikken hissatsu’ – meaning to ‘annihalate with one blow’ is a reference to this concept and you will hear karate practitioners refer to it from time to time. But take care to understand what it really means, and how it can be applied without contradicting our commitment to self-control and development of character. The concept of ‘technique for maximum effectiveness’ is secondary to the benefits that karate brings to the whole person.
Each of us would hope never, ever to be put in a position in which we would be seeking to achieve a literal ‘ikken hissatsu’. But the philosophical equivalent of the same concept is to make every single action count, delivering each one with focus and to the best of your ability. It is this idea that we wanted you to experience for yourselves.
Thanks to all those who supported this event – we hope it served as something a little different from the usual scented candles and rose petals on Valentines night!
Well done to those of you who continued training throughout the summer holidays – and to those who participated in our two open air training sessions. The weather fortunately held out for us, with the temperature perfect for training (there was even a light breeze to cool one’s brow!).
Anyway; today’s basics were focussed on hips – keeping them level when rotating from one position to the next – and using the energy generated by their motion to push a technique forwards, back or to the sides.
After basics, katas: Kihon and Heian Shodan were followed by some more basics to help with the next kata: Empi. This kata is categorised as an ‘advanced’ level kata, for 3rd Kyu and above but all of the movements emanate from basics that we’ve all encountered early on in our training, and all the stances too. So if you can do reverse punch, front snap-kick, low-level sweeping block and knife-hand block, then it is possible to follow through. It’s also important to understand how basics underpin everything that we do – even advanced level kata. Because without good basics, we cannot perform any of our kata well – not even Kihon.
Next week, we’ll be back in the sports hall and able to fully appreciate the newly refurbished facilities.
Thankfully, our event kicked off rather differently to what was going on in some other parts of London. We were in for one and a half hours of disciplined yet exhilarating training. Ohta Sensei kept everybody together for basics and kumite before working on each kata, emphasising the important points. Each group then got a chance to practise a bit more and some time to rest briefly before the grading exam.
There was no rest for the brown belts though; after a quick water break, they were straight back on the dojo floor for more kata and kumite!
With our club steadily growing, the gradings give everybody an opportunity to see each others’ level and what will be expected when the time comes to attempt the next belt.
Over the few days after Ohta Sensei’s lesson, we received quite a lot of feedback from those of you who had attended. Opinion was split between those who really enjoyed it and those who really ached the next day (but who still really enjoyed it)!
Well done to everybody who passed. You should try to remember Sensei’s comments and apply it to your regular training. Our next club grading will be Tuesday 20th December and will be the last training session of the year.
On Tuesday 5th April we held the first of our 2011 special training sessions with Ohta Sensei.
As usual, everyone dug deep into their energy reserves and enjoyed a challenging class.
After the training, we held the club kyu grading which saw all candidates successful in moving up to the next level. On the day we had run out of time for the group photo – so the above shows students at the next class.
With a number of exciting events in the club calendar as we move through spring and on to the rest of the year, now is a great time to get set up for your next karate goal.
With only a few sleeps until Christmas Day we managed to fit in Keiko Osame (the last training of the year) followed by a club grading! As usual, Ohta Sensei gave us an excellent workout during the special training session.
While the grading saw all students being awarded the next level, the results were by no means a foregone conclusion. Sensei highlighted some development points which we will be sure to work on together in 2011.
This year there was also a special club prize for dedication to karate, and this went to Connor, someone who stands out as having put considerable effort into his karate over the past year. We look forward to seeing continued progress from everyone next year – with the club re-opening on 8th January. In the meantime have a refreshing Christmas break!
Sensei Austin and I had our fingers crossed on 7th September, given that tube strikes were expected to cause transport mayhem. As it turned out, the majority of our group were able to arrive at the O2 in very good time for the special training and kyu grading with Ohta Sensei.
We started with the choku-tsuki (straight punch) in parallel stance, with special attention to using the core to create stability and also to tidy rotation of the forearms and fists. From there, we practised gedan-barai, with emphasis on hip twist. It wasn’t long before Sensei has us combine these techniques with the different kinds of transition needed for Kihon kata. Sensei confirmed that it is possible to understand a lot about a person’s karate ability just by seeing them perform Kihon. As straightforward as this kata may seem, a high skill level is needed to execute the different turning movements correctly and cleanly. It is a kata in which there is nowhere to hide!
The training moved on to incorporate further exercises to help students refine their basic movements as well as dissections of each of the Heian kata. We also enjoyed practising the kumite sequences for each grade, with Sensei encouraging us all to take care with the distancing and timing. It was an action-packed session requiring energy and mental focus. Sixth Kyu and above had to work particularly hard, staying on the dojo floor for the entire 90 minute training session and enduring a challenging exercise in pairs to develop strength, flexibility and targeting skills for the various kicks.
After a short break, students dug a little deeper to find stamina and concentration for the grading itself. There were a number of strong performances despite signs of a few nerves having crept in here and there. But what really stood out was the determination and spirit from each person to give his or her best.
Those who had taken the Kyu grading left with a change of belt colour and some positive comments from Sensei on how to improve further. Congratulations to all!
On Saturday morning at John Lyon Sports Centre, we were very lucky to be visited by the current JKA European Karate Champions: Roisin, Rachel and Jana.
At this year’s Championship held in Bochum, Germany, the three took European Gold in the Junior Ladies Team Kata event. Roisin also won Gold in Individual Junior Ladies Kumite and Silver in Junior Ladies Individual Kata, while Jana won Bronze in Individual Junior Ladies Kumite.
Roisin led the class stretch at the beginning and we stayed together through a selection of kihon-waza until everybody was warmed-up. Then our guests each led a group through kata. With the club grading coming up in 3 days time, this was a great opportunity to pick up some helpful pointers from some very talented, young karate-ka.
At the end of the class, Roisin, Rachel, Jana and Sensei Jeni each performed their own favourite katas: Sochin, Nijushiho, Gankaku and Chinte. All were impressive, but judging by the gasps of excitement from the audience, the most favoured part of the morning was a demonstration of the winning team kata, Unsu. With its assortment of fast and slow techniques and a dramatic 360 degree aerial manoeuvre towards the end, this is one of the most demanding kata in the Shotokan repertoire.
A special thanks to all our guests for taking the time to come and visit our club, and the very best of luck to Roisin, who left the UK for Japan the very next day, to further her karate training at JKA Honbu dojo in Tokyo.
Congratulations to our students for their success at the recent kyu grading at the O2 Centre, Finchley Road. Despite the slightly unfortuitous date, everyone turned up on time and passed!
Prior to the grading, club members were inspired by a one hour special training session with Ohta Sensei, 6th Dan and Head of JKA England.
Sensei worked us hard through kihon (basic movements), kata (formal exercises) and kumite (sparring). Throughout, the focus on hip rotation, smooth footwork and correct form provided a challenge for Shiranamikai students and instructors alike!
It’s great to see club members making progress through the ranks and we look forward to seeing continued effort in the dojo.
Another great opportunity to train with Ohta Sensei is coming soon. It’s the Spring 2010 JKA England International karate course at the Guildford Spectrum, which will also feature visiting instructors Osaka Yoshiharu and Naka Tatsuya from JKA HQ in Tokyo and Mori Masataka from JKA New York. See our events page for further details.
JKA Summer Training Course & Grading, 28th–30th August 2009, Guildford with Ueki Sensei 8th dan Japan , Taniyama Sensei 6th dan Japan and Ohta Sensei 6th dan England
This weekend was an enjoyable one for Shiranamikai Harrow. Sheila, Daniel and Parth all attended the JKA England Summer International Course at Guildford, alongside Club Instructors Austin and Sasha.
The course featured top level instruction and as always we learnt a lot and came away inspired. Sensei Austin was really impressed with the energy and enthusiasm that everyone from our group put into the training. Each day of the course started with an hour of energetic practise involving the whole group, after which students were split into groups. While Shiranamikai students were among the least experienced of the course attendees, they showed true karate spirit by giving 100% effort to everything that was asked of them.
Daniel did a great job of keeping up his energy levels over all three days of the course. There was also great determination from Parth, who at age 6 was probably the youngest course participant!
On the Saturday there was a kyu grading. Parth and Daniel were successful in passing their first grading for 9th kyu. Sheila moves up to red belt having passed 8th kyu. Congratulations to everyone. We look forward to seeing continued progress.
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.