The Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham was the location for the first JKS England and Wales Black and Brown Belt Course of 2017 which was held on Sunday 15th January. Alan Campbell, Head of JKS England, started by welcoming everyone and presenting recently received dan diplomas from Japan.
A start, which, took everyone by surprise saw high intensity interval training occupy the first half of the course in the form of tabata; 20 seconds of activity followed by 10 seconds rest. Each exercise was repeated like this eight times, meaning the body and the heart were worked thoroughly. Beginning with squats and core work the students quickly realised that after a few rounds, completing the set needed a lot of physical and mental effort to try to maintain form and keep relaxed. Targeting all elements of the body, Alan Sensei’s choices appeared to try to drain all the energy which the students had in reserve. Needing a steely resolve to continue, a positive atmosphere was ever present and much needed to support the students during the tabata training which set the tone for the day.
Moving on to partner work, Alan Sensei encouraged the students to maintain speed as much as possible, motivating their partner to try to match this as the exercises moved onto punching and kicking drills. All the while students tried to finish the exercise as they had started but found an inevitable difficulty in the latter stages of each set. With the arms and legs tiring, students finished interval training with continuous attacking moves across the width of the dojo. A welcome break followed this, with many students catching their breath and taking on some well earned water to replace lost fluids from the energetic and highly spirited “warm-up”!
With just a brief pause, Alan Sensei then moved the session on to kihon (basics) working forwards and backwards movements to take advantage of the tired legs and improve their strength. The conditioning beforehand also afforded very relaxed limbs as costly tension was not an option with the muscles exhausted from earlier hard work. Alan Sensei covered punching drills, kicking and kumite style movements, advancing each sequence to full speed. Students demonstrated the same mental toughness to develop their technique as best as possible, taking on the advice and teaching points mentioned.
Evolving this, Alan Sensei moved to a progressive kumite drill, involving four attacks and utilising a variety of footwork movements. Alan Sensei was keen for students to hit the target but try to build up to continuous movement through relaxation and correct weight distribution. Moving this on, students stayed upbeat as they were challenged to catch the person attacking in front and appreciate the rhythm and timing needed to establish a suitable flow through the gauntlet like setup. Some accidental extra spinning left some heads dizzy on the turns but everyone was still smiling at the end. Students in their respective groups had helped push each other to their limits and time had flown by to this point. Without time to reflect on just how much ground had been covered (literally) a short break then led into the final few minutes.
Junro Godan was covered with Alan Sensei instilling earlier instruction regarding the need for relaxation and also relating the kata back to the kihon sequences. Urging students to complete each technique before beginning the next, the kata covered many of the angles, footwork and ideas previously practiced in the course. After the session came to an end Alan Sensei thanked everyone for their continuing support and reminded everyone of the upcoming offerings from JKS England and Wales in the next few months, starting with the Open Squad Training which was to follow with JKS England National Squad Coach Matt Price Sensei. Please continue to check the JKS England website for course details and book early to secure your place.
A talented competitor and coach, Alan Sensei reminder everyone of the wealth of knowledge that Matt Sensei brings to the table and that the Open Squad sessions apply to every karateka. Beneficial to instructors, ahead of gradings/competition as well as being fun, these sessions cover a huge array of points relevant to all aspects of kumite training and development.
Matt Sensei approached the session with a very clear plan; to introduce an attack (kizami-tsuki) with a deliberate pattern of training and the thought process behind this. Establishing the ability to perform the attack came first, with no partner present to affect the technique. Matt Sensei provided all of the students who stayed with some excellent coaching points, thinking about what makes the punch successful and how to notice aspects with room for improvement. Students were encouraged to feedback to their opponent to help everyone improve.
Next was the ability to attack a partner in drill format; Matt Sensei used many of the students to help understand why changes are made here and how to eliminate these in order to succeed with the attack, removing hesitation, unnecessary cues to the opponent and concentrating on the relevant footwork and hand positions. Matt Sensei always covered what was appropriate to the individuals demonstrating and to the onlookers for what might apply to them or represent valuable points of instruction.
The final piece to the puzzle was to try to throw a successful kizami-tsuki against a partner in an unpredictable environment of light sparring. Matt Sensei educated at all stages and always related the training to the considered method of practicing technique first before then developing use within various kumite environments. Matt Sensei proceeded to then look at intricacies of the sharp punching attack such as hand movement and when to set off from the ideal footwork position. All of these hints gave students an opportunity to test themselves and help comprehend how to deliver a fast attack which the opponent cannot see coming until the very end. This was especially true when working from a hand position which was not standard or anticipated.
Matt Sensei then covered how to respond to this with a dip of the shoulder, shifting the body and head to safety. An important skill but with only a small margin for error students were keen to stay as relaxed as they were being advised to in order to avoid making a mistake here! A fantastic end to a tough day, Matt Sensei continued to demonstrate the assets which Open Squad training can offer everyone and encouraged students to understand the process covered in the session, taking this back to the dojo and applying it to other techniques. Finishing with an interesting anecdote from Matt Sensei’s competitive days, he commented how a different mindset is needed for kumite and the importance of focus on the task in hand, no matter who the opponent is or what the occasion…a great end to the first instalment of the 2017 Black and Brown belt training sessions.
The next JKS Black and Brown belt training is on Sunday 2nd April in Nottingham.