The latest black and brown belt course was held on Sunday 4th June in Nottingham and following recent events in Manchester and London, Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan, Head of JKS England took time ahead of the starting bow to pay respect to those affected and also request that they be in everyone’s thoughts as people closed their eyes to begin the session with “mokuso”. Alan Sensei reminded the students present of the spread of the JKS family within the UK and further afield with many clubs close by to those areas recently involved. Dan diplomas hot off the production line were then presented to students who had recently passed their gradings and a warm up started the session after this.
Alan Sensei began the class with some of the “staple diet” of karate conditioning exercises; a good number of squats. Students were reminded of the importance of correct posture and technique for even these simple exercises, maximising their benefit with Alan Sensei also varying the emphasis. Press ups and leg raises were next, ensuring that the whole body started fatigued with students working hard to maintain good form and execute the exercise as Alan Sensei showcased.
Moving on to work the hips, Alan Sensei took the class on a journey through kicking technique. Demonstrating the importance of the ability to drive the hips in the correct direction for maximum range and power (starting with mae-geri and yoko-geri), Alan Sensei began to cover and explain further aspects of the kicks. Also encouraged to deliver a “snapping” action, students tried to emulate the hip action earlier, coupling it with the desired timing of the kick to make it effective.
Students were then partnered for assisted stretching and were supported by their partner to guarantee the right foot position, posture and stretch were all achieved, albeit with a few funny faces being pulled! Alan Sensei explicitly mentioned the need to try to kick outside of the student’s “comfort zone” in order to increase the range of their kicking ability, to make sure that even when kicking at a lower level target their technique is improved, never remaining content with what can currently be achieved. In what was turning out to be a very tough session on the legs, this was then compounded by partnering to deliver the kicks practiced whilst moving backwards. Alan Sensei championed the need for “movement within movement” and to encompass the earlier hip exercises to ensure power can be driven forwards, even when moving backwards, a logical starting point before addressing the ability to work with these techniques off the straight line. Some students flourished and others struggled, but all understood the importance of the theme, needing to utilise the whole body to be able to attack with kicks when under attack. This skill was also reinforced by Matt Sensei at the end of the squad session as an important part of kumite training as well.
After also adding the rest of the traditional and also some other expanded Shotokan kicks, Alan Sensei pushed students to be free in their response, working on good control but always concentrating on the hip direction and action. A great session with a huge amount of information to take home to the dojo will certainly have left many with legs needing a few days to recover.
Following on from the course Matt Sensei 6th Dan, JKS England Squad Coach held an open squad training session and declared that the theme would be “You can’t fake fighting”. Matt Sensei covered exactly what he meant by this in detail as he ensured all students present understood that the skills and practice required permeates all aspects of kumite; be it competition, jiyu or jiyu-ippon. Matt Sensei started with some footwork drills, partnering students and illustrating the most efficient
ways to “track and hunt” an opponent to make certain that the students are sure-footed and ready to respond to an attack or opening when needed. This footwork foundation was something Matt Sensei suggested would immediately allow one to know how well someone can fight as it is vital in all aspects of this.
Progressing the footwork and bringing the back leg to a loaded position, Matt Sensei then introduced kizami-tsuki and students were tasked to deliver this without any telling signs in a fast and direct manner. The partner had the tricky task of trying to move back to avoid the technique but only when the attack was made. Further explaining Matt Sensei’s theme, a few drills were worked with the onus on the defender although maybe that should be “onlooker” to remain still, calm and able to watch the whole technique through. Matt Sensei conveyed the importance of this reaction to enable the defender to respond appropriately, even if they get hit but especially to avoid flinching or learning trained responses which offer no benefit in fighting. This was especially difficult when kneeling down and with student’s partners whistling kicks towards their head focus was paramount to prevent twitching or blinking as techniques frantically rushed towards them.
Matt Sensei then ended the squad training with defensive strategies, working the use of both hands for quick and efficient blocking of common kumite techniques. Geoff Dixon Sensei 5th Dan and JKS England Chief Referee was then introduced, who gave a precise and thorough examination of the WKF rules set and the changes to the JKS competition rules, with a view to being ahead of the game for squad members aiming high in terms of success with the Olympics in 2020 approaching. Students were able to ask questions and confirm key points in terms of scoring and penalties which can sometimes be the difference in a bout.
A tough day of karate definitely left some with very achy legs and sore feet but with students enthused to put into practice the key elements of what had been taught a very worthwhile day of karate came to a close. A huge thanks to those in attendance, please keep a close eye on the JKS website for upcoming courses, especially the Summer Course which is booking up fast.