On Sunday 24th September 2017 the most recent Black and Brown Belt course was again held at the new Djanogly City Academy venue in Nottingham. Before the course started some dan grade diplomas were presented to those successful at recent gradings, after being delivered from Japan. Moving swiftly on from the warm up, Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan-Head of JKS England worked on some conditioning exercises which began on the theme of squatting. Covering the entire range of motion to test the legs, students counted and concentrated on performing the exercise with their utmost attention, trying to stay low and keep moving without sacrificing posture or technique. Deep lunges, press ups and body raises with a wide arm position were also used to fatigue the body as the course got under way.
Alan Sensei then introduced a basics combination which students quickly grasped and executed with speed. This combination had everyone spinning forwards and backwards and also stepping in these directions. Spending a good amount of time, Alan Sensei covered a great number of important kihon principles in this section of the course. Stressing the need for co-ordination and correct hip action, Alan Sensei afforded everyone the opportunity to practice this. Driving the hip as the first point of action and corkscrewing into the spin allowed students to generate speed and power into the technique when the block was to be delivered. This prevents a slow start and power generation only with the arms. Full hip action was always encouraged and students were tested against each other to remind everyone that sometimes the technique must be practice fully without the need to race to finish first by cutting corners. Students were also advised to consider their foot movement and that spinning forwards and backwards are most effectively done with awareness of the position of the ball and heel and how the bodyweight can be shifted.
Alan Sensei then proceeded to reiterate these principles in a different kihon drill which encompassed front stance, back stance, horse riding stance and cat stance, as well as a variety of hand techniques. Working the hips as well as on correct timing, Alan Sensei ensured that the students appreciated how and why to complete each technique and on reflection that this is exactly what is needed in kata. The count was also adjusted to mimic this, avoiding the “tick-tock” approach and enabling the movements to feel intentionally more connected so as to be even more meaningful.
The students were then moved into threes and worked between their partners with smooth, flowing kumite techniques. Alan Sensei pushed the students to keep their hips low and press on, preventing jerky motions and any loss of momentum. Moving again to test themselves against each other, students were tasked with finishing the exercise without any wasted time or energy. This theme then continued with resistance in the form of a belt which was pulled back from around the student’s waist by a partner. Trying to maintain good posture by not leaning inwards, the students had to work together to ensure that the resistance was not too much that the benefit was lost. Driving from the hips, as covered throughout the course, was a vital part in trying to repeat the earlier exercise where students were unrestrained albeit slowed down a little!
The range for this was then adjusted with the distance made more like a common kumite range and students working to full speed immediately. They were then met with a kizami-tsuki attack from the static partner (being attacked by the resisted oncomer). Continuing to put in maximum effort, students worked through this a number of times each and also changed partners to keep themselves out of their comfort zone and prevent them becoming accustomed to the same attacker.
A very thorough workout and a few days of tired legs were to come, students had certainly covered a great deal of ground within the lesson (quite literally) and with many teaching points to examine in their own dojos left with an appreciation that technique must always be re-examined and tweaked to strive for improvement at all levels.
Just before the end of the course, Alan Sensei also invited Richard Fewkes Sensei-3rd Dan JKS to remind everyone about the previously hugely successful first iteration and second upcoming Karate-a-thon which is to take place on Sunday 26th November. Alan Sensei also recounted the recent success of the squad at the JKS Continental Cup in Belgium and how it needs the support of the whole association to continue to improve under the watchful eyes of Squad Coaches Matt Price and Nick Heald Sensei. Please get involved if you can as the day is sure to be action packed with a great atmosphere like last time.