The 2017 JKS England and Wales Autumn Seminar took place over the weekend of 14th and 15th October in Nottingham. A fantastic turnout on both days was testament to the quality and depth of instruction always afforded from Japan by the JKS. Head of JKS England, Alan Campbell Sensei introduced the instructor for the weekend, Hajime Matsue Sensei, who is a Hombu Dojo instructor and in his time a very successful competitor. Alan Sensei showed his appreciation to Matsue Sensei, who replaced Arimoto Sensei as the weekend’s visiting instructor due to WKF competition commitments.
Following a warm up, Matsue Sensei worked a number of kihon exercises to begin to isolate the hips and load the back leg, stressing the need to drive forward with good timing of the punch (on making stance). This was done with punching to the angle; 45 degrees, 90 degrees and then behind to each side before making a reverse punch into front stance. Moving next to leg strength and conditioning, Matsue Sensei showed the class a number of exercises to improve aspects of kicking; involving knee raises and straight leg lifts. The importance of ankle and toe position was also expressly mentioned, which is vital when contact is made to enable the safe and effective transfer of the power generated by the kicking technique. After 10 repetitions, 20 and then 30 followed to make sure all the students had a gentle reminder that you cannot undervalue the need for strong legs in all aspects of karate.
Working with partners, students were next challenged to bring together a fast, straight pickup and snapping action for mae-geri (front kick) whilst trying to maintain a forward, unaffected body posture. Students worked in threes after this, using their arms to generate extra speed from the start when making a stepping action. This was done by pulling with the arms on the belts of partners standing on either side. Trying to avoid a bobbing action this made the next set of kihon exercises very relaxed and students moved swiftly to replicate the speed and establish stances they had practiced by moderating tension in the legs.
For the rest of the Saturday session, Matsue Sensei took the class through an expert examination of Bassai-Dai, Jion and finally Enpi. Addressing specific sections with thorough explanation and also covering applications, variations and delivery, Matsue Sensei demonstrated his humility, deep knowledge and supportive manner to make it a memorable day of kata for all, no matter how familiar the students were with the katas in question. Matsue Sensei also has a very good command of English which meant humour was never far away, lightening the mood and creating great atmosphere for training.
Following the course, Geoff Dixon Sensei, Chief Referee for JKS England and Wales and Head of the JKS Referee Development Programme led a 2 hour referee’s course. Those in attendance were treated to a whistle-stop tour of karate competition. Geoff Sensei made the course both interesting and very enjoyable, encompassing rules and their application both in theory and practically. The programme is worthwhile for a wide range of people and facilitates the JKS competitions held throughout the year. If you have any interest in helping at any level; table recording, judging/refereeing or would just like to support the team, please speak to Geoff Sensei as every little helps! The more people who are involved mean the competitions can continue to be the showcase which they have become.
On Sunday morning, Matsue Sensei continued his comprehensive examination of kata. After a few exercises to warm the legs, strengthen the wrists and work on posture. Students were tested to
maintain their balance by pressing hands together with their partners and raising their front leg. This then progressed on to working stance transitions ahead of another brilliant day of kata.
Starting with Heian Yondan and then moving onto Kanku-Dai, Kanku-Sho and Gojushiho-Sho students of all grades were able to appreciate the principles and development which the Shotokan system provides. Matsue Sensei went through all of the kata in such detail and ever humble in his approach, gave great insight to all. Giving time for plenty of questions meant Matsue Sensei’s interaction with students of all ages and grades was a perfect example of the calibre of instructor he is and the influence he has to inspire. Matsue Sensei also looked at less than obvious applications as each kata was broken down and given good time to practice certain sections needing express attention. Breaking from the kata to enjoy time with the Shinai and for press ups on fingers, Matsue Sensei showed how learning kata can be fun as well as very informative. Utilising students to demonstrate points of improvements the session met the brief of a technical seminar faultlessly.
Finishing with the kata Roshu, Matsue Sensei taught a kata very few had even seen and illustrated once more his unique abilities in teaching. Before drawing the course to a close, Alan Sensei thanked Matsue graciously for his instruction before many would head home with an extraordinary course to reflect on. A dan grading then followed with congratulations going to those who were successful this time around.
Please look out for videos of Matsue Sensei and some excellent pictures on the JKS England Facebook Page which show snippets of the weekend. A great reminder of the amount of content covered and detailing many items which deserve to be revisited in the dojo.