Spring 2022, and England is hosting the first JKA international training course in three years. Instructors, Sawada Kazuhiro 8th Dan from JKA Belgium, Imamura Tomio 8th Dan and Shimizu Ryosuke 6th Dan from the Tokyo Sohonbu, join Ohta Yoshinobu 7th Dan for this long overdue gasshuku weekend.
A respectable contingent of our karateka neighbours are present, including from Scotland, Norway, Portugal, and Germany, all keen to participate and absorb the experience that these instructors have to offer… Sawada Sensei gives detailed explanations underlined with profound historic references, and uses physical proxies to great effect throughout his partner drills. Imamura Sensei expands upon uchi uke in basic partner work with makiotoshi making for interesting, if challenging, techniques. Shimizu Sensei demonstrates speed, power, and flexibility, leaving no doubt as to why he made such a formidable kumite competitor in the past. But what may have surprised is his exeptional form throughout katas Gankaku and Gojushiho Sho, with dynamic movement and slick direction changes. But that’s what the JKA does best: apportion equal time to kihon, kata and kumite, and where one finds a deficit, they strive to make improvements.
There was a lot to get through. The first 90 minutes of each day would be given over to kihon and kumite, followed by another 90 minutes being reserved for kata, bunkai, and instructor training. A friendly kumite match took place on Saturday, alongside a kyu grading, instructor theory, and referee practical. Sunday saw a dan grading followed by instructor practical exams.
So, a busy weekend with little time for much else. But this was a fantastic course taught by some of the most respected instructors in the world. And it was so good to finally catch up with karate friends after so long.
Congratulations to Alex on passing his 4th Dan! It’s an incredible achievement, and the culmination of 20 years of dedicated training.
Update: It was announced late-May 2022 that Sawada Sensei has been awarded 8th Dan by the JKA Shihankai. A just recognition for a great instructor who has dedicated his life to karate. Read more about Sawada Sensei on his academy’s site…