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JKA England All Grades Course, December 2010

Takushoku Daigaku Karate Club (or ‘Takudai’ for short) is renowned for the intensity and quality of its practice. This Japanese university club has produced numerous champions and JKA instructors. At the December course in Hatfield we were fortunate to have a special visitor present in Tsuyama Katsunori Sensei 8th dan – the head karate coach of Takushoku, a director of the Japan Karate-do Federation and special advisor to JKA.

Takudai can count JKA England’s very own Ohta Sensei 7th dan among its alumni. We were spoilt for quality in that he was also delivering instruction at this course. In addition, Tsuyama Sensei was ably assisted by Richard Heselton 4th dan, who hails from Yorkshire in the UK but who has lived in Japan since 1995. Richard Sensei captained the Takudai club from 2002-2004 and was this year’s 3rd place winner for Kumite at the JKA All Japan Championships. The more observant might also have spotted Richard Sensei appearing as one of the baddies in the karate movie ‘High Kick Girl’ !

We started off by practising kihon (basic techniques) together, progressing from single techniques to longer combinations. Then participants were split into groups according to grade. Tsuyama Sensei and Richard Sensei led the Dan grades through kumite drills, after which there was an opportunity to focus on kata. Those who were participating in the dan grading due to take place later in the day had chosen to perform Bassai Dai, Jion, Empi and Niijushiho. Therefore, each senior instructor was allocated one of these kata and asked to lead a group. Kyu grades were taught separately and practised kata from the Heian series.

After the course had concluded, it was rather tempting to pop to nearby Hatfield House to inspect some fine examples of Jacobean craftmanship. Or, let’s be honest now – perhaps the bright lights of the Hatfield Galleria shopping centre were even more appealing. But we decided to forego these delights and instead stayed back at the sports complex for awhile to watch the dan grading, which provided a useful insight for our kyu grades.