The October black and brown belt course was hosted once again at the Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham. There was still an excellent turnout on a chilly autumn morning even though it was not quite t-shirt and shorts weather anymore.
A well needed warm up set the tone for the session which was taught by Alan Campbell Sensei, Head of JKS England. Starting with punching, Alan Sensei worked on the importance of being able to quickly relax the arm and snap the techniques into place with speed and power. Students were encouraged to use both body and joint movement to give maximum range and force in the striking technique no matter how short the distance was. Students were then paired before working together in threes to examine each other’s technique and also appreciate that sometimes students do not quite perform the technique how they think they are. Introducing ura-tsuki (upper cut punch)and kagi-tsuki (hook punch), Alan Sensei demonstrated the ability to be able to hit the opponent quickly and continuously from all ranges and positions. The punching exercises were also a precursor to the katas practiced later on.
Alan Sensei introduced a sequence out of the shodan syllabus next, which afforded everyone the opportunity to apply the same dynamics to a more familiar set of moves. Continuing to concentrate on the same principles (only this time with the legs) nami ashi geri (returning wave foot kick) was used to loosen the hips and again formed a part of the preparation for the upcoming katas. Students tried to maintain correct body posture by casting a critical (but friendly) eye on each other as the foot was used to meet the hands being held just above the belt in front of the student.
Moving on to Tekki Shodan, Alan Sensei delivered a comprehensive look at the need for a strong base to support the upper body action. Working on kiba-dachi (straddle/horse riding stance) and explaining the importance of this stable foundation was a key lesson which Alan Sensei stressed. The kata brought together the earlier techniques which had been practiced in isolation and so meant those that did not know the kata were immediately more familiar with it. Students were also paired with a black belt, enabling more time to be spent and the students to benefit from a period of one-on-one training.
Tekki Nidan and then Tekki Sandan were also taught by Alan Sensei. Students were encouraged to learn quickly by feedback from the black belts they were grouped with and everyone picked up the majority of these katas with little hesitation, whilst trying to apply the same energy shown earlier with Tekki Shodan. Completing the session, the katas were performed without pause as Tekki Shodan was immediately followed by Nidan for those comfortable with it. Just as fatigue was taking hold in the legs, the session came to an end.
Following the session Alan Sensei reiterated the fantastic strides which are being made with both the JKS England competition squad and officials team. Recent feedback from the JKS World Championships was very positive and JKS England put itself in a position which couldn’t help but be noticed by the other countries competing. Alan Sensei also championed the open squad session with Matt Price Sensei-JKS National Squad Coach which was to follow. Students were reminded that this session is for everyone and will help with grading kumite, fitness and kumite strategy, not just specific competition training.
As the officiating team reviewed kata together, along with all aspects of judging this, Matt Price Sensei began the open squad session. With a huge number of students continuing to train, they had to persevere with heavy legs to practice the kumite drills which Matt Price Sensei started with.
Beginning with some basic kumite technique, students went on to practice a number of defensive and offensive strategies in order to outwit the opponent. Spending time working on the “pull”, students were pushed to deliver decisive techniques worthy of a points score after inviting an attack. Matt Price Sensei reminded students of the value of good timing in all aspects of kumite for success, with focus needed at all times for this to be able to happen. Advancing the drills, Matt Sensei utilised hip action and kicks to help diversify the students’ armoury. This needed a very difficult action which saw the drive come from the back foot, propelling the hips in order to target the kick. A tricky move which can catch the opponent off guard as it can be unexpected.
Ending the session some students had the opportunity to practice these kumite skills in a more formal competitive environment. The availability of a matted areas and officials on hand meant that a detailed look at competition karate could be given to all present. Matt Price and Geoff Dixon Sensei, who was providing the referees training, gave all involved some vital information on the difference between WKF and more traditional tournament rules from both viewpoints. This enhanced both the experience of the competitors and provided practice for the officials in what was a very enriching environment. With some great matches and an excellent exchange from some of the JKS Elite Squad competitors who had success at the JKS Word Championships (Joe Bulmer and David Lister) it was a great finish to the day’s karate. Leaving everyone in high spirits the teamwork and exposure of the open squad session gave everyone, including the on looking parents, a fresh approach to training.
Please remember that the Arimoto course at the end of October is filling fast and booking early is a must to secure a place. Arimoto Sensei is a fantastic kata exponent and brings a wealth of competitive accomplishments to the table. A course definitely not to be missed.