On Sunday 14th June the second York course held by local JKS England clubs was held. There was a fantastic attendance in all sessions which were led by Head of JKS England Alan Campbell Sensei 6th Dan and Geoff Dixon Sensei 5th Dan, JKS England Chief Referee and Head of the Judges Development Programme. The sessions were split classes throughout the day based on age and grade, giving all students a great insight into specific aspects of karate.
Alan Sensei introduced the first kyu grade group to basic kihon combinations; the centre of attention was based on movement to develop effective delivery and transition between techniques. Geoff Sensei took the beginners through some basic kihon exercises, concentrating on speed in Mae Geri and spirit, with kiai a focus for students ahead of the grading. This ended with a variety of games, employing different teaching strategies to help the young students learn whilst having fun.
Alan Sensei then explored kumite based exercises to encourage fluid movement in all directions, initially as kihon, before introducing partner work to help students further understand the importance of movement. This was expanded upon for the higher level kyu grades with more advanced drills forming the basis of strategies to open up attacking opportunities. This application gave the students a chance to explore how vital distance can be to success in kumite.
Geoff Sensei moved on to grading basics for the next grade group, introducing a twist to ensure that students understood how power and speed is created through proper stance and the need for strong legs. Students were then partnered for kumite exercises with a bit of competitive excitement before the stress of grading! The next group used pads to develop quick reactions; with increasing variations in punching and kicking techniques and increasing uncertainty, students experienced the difficulty in removing the knowledge of announced techniques to improve their skill in response.
Alan Sensei finished by teaching the brown and black belts Meikyo and Meikyo Nidan with emphasis on promoting relaxation for correct technique. This aimed to generate smoothness in the slow techniques and speed in the fast elements of the katas. To many these katas were new, with Alan Sensei keen to give exposure to them as they are often only reserved for higher level dan grades.
Geoff Sensei then took over the black and brown belts with footwork exercises used to begin the final session of the day. This lead on to bunkai exercises encompassing parts from all of the Heian katas. This worked important combinations and to introduce kamae (posturing to incite certain attacks). Students picked this up very quickly and were able to perform a mini-kata by the end of it, at the same time understanding Heian kata application with multiple attack sequences delivered by the students in groups.
To finish, Geoff Sensei covered hentei-waza. This gave a very different change of pace, with stability in stance leading to strong blocks delivered from a solid foundation (as opposed to the movement based defence covered earlier). Hentei-waza utilises the blocking hand and its proximity to the opponent to quickly spoil any following techniques. Multiple blocks were used with an emphasis placed on using the energy in the block against the attacker. These blocking sequences covered many attacks, moving onto open hand techniques to complete a thought-provoking session.
Congratulations to those who successfully graded and those who trained for supporting what was an eye opening course with many “penny drop” moments for all.