The annual JKS England and Wales Christmas Course was held on 9th December 2017 in Nottingham and brought the JKS calendar to a close for the year. Another fully subscribed course resulted in a fantastic atmosphere from start to finish as a fitting reward for those having been able to book early enough.
The course started with Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan and Head of JKS England and Wales welcoming everyone before giving a special mention to the karateka who had attended the JKS International Seminar in Japan recently and in particular, those that were successful in grading at this prestigious event. Alan Sensei praised the commitment, passion and training intensity of the karateka in question, which not only encourages their students and others within the association but also keeps raising the profile of JKS England and Wales internationally through their visibility and display of exemplary quality.
The JKS forever showcases such talent and the Christmas Course was again another prime illustration of the ability of the instructors within the association. Following a quick warm up the class was split with Steve Carless Sensei 6th Dan taking Nidan and above and Matt Price Sensei 6th Dan taking Shodan and below.
Steve Sensei guided the senior black belts through a challenging routine before then moving on to kata. Loosening the shoulders and arms first Steve Sensei had students whip their elbow and then fist behind them; enpi then uraken respectively before following with a punch to the front or side, fully engaging and utilising the hips at both extremes of the technique. Co-ordinating the motion was difficult enough but the speed and dizzying repetition made students dig deep to give their best, all the while attempting to better their use of joints in these techniques. Keeping a high elbow position was important to prevent wasted energy and time before snapping the punch into place.
Steve Sensei then introduced some exercises to prepare the legs for training, beginning with shiko-dachi squats and moving on to some seated hip strength drills which had students kicking mawashi-geri from the floor, before swapping sides. Working the core as well, Steve Sensei showed how mobility, flexibility and strength are all vital parts of generating effective technique and to promote the improvement that students are constantly striving for. Steve Sensei also tasked students to squat deeply, maintaining an upright body posture before working one legged squats with the aim of getting close to the floor. After Steve Sensei had prepared the students bodies, a detailed look at the kata Gojushiho-Sho dominated the lesson. Working many specific points to identify easily overlooked elements of body control and technique, Steve Sensei examined the kata from start to finish, repeating sections to reinforce pertinent teaching points clearly. Always addressing ways to increase the difficulty level, students left with a thorough understanding that perfection in kata performance is a lifetime struggle.
After the break Steve Sensei would teach the Shodan and below group with a similar start. Students then worked mawashi-geri and were tasked to maintain proper knee position whilst kicking gedan, chudan then jodan without dropping the foot at any time. Working across the dojo, students then had to deliver machine gun like mawashi geris to reach their partner at the other end before hitting them as the final target. Steve Sensei then added ura-mawashi geri and ushiro-geri kicks, especially
emphasising correct kicking posture and covering how contact is made with the foot in each of the techniques.
Kata again would finish Steve Sensei’s lesson where Jo No kata and Heian Nidan would be assessed in great detail, reminding students that although these are traditionally “lower grade kata” they should not be simplified or overlooked as they contain vital movements lessons which permeate future Shotokan kata such as how to turn, exploit correct hand preparation and work to time fast hands and feet together.
Matt Sensei also taught a lesson which would span both classes, allowing him to tailor this to the grade groups present and explore the kumite drills being examined. Matt Sensei started with slow and relaxed punching to the side, stretching to make a long front stance with gyaku-tsuki, which allowed students to appreciate the correct body positioning, footwork and hip action needed. These extended punches were then delivered by compressing the body and immediately releasing this when bouncing up and down on the spot, taking advantage of the energy in this movement when in contact with the floor.
Driving the hip to enable good distance control was then practiced with a partner and succeeded by a front leg mawashi-geri kick. Matt Sensei covered a significant number of appropriate kumite points with regards to speed, strategy and effectiveness in the combination in question. Matt Sensei stressed the importance to stay upright and also prevent additional movements after the punch and before the kick which would prevent it having a chance of connecting with the target, before the opponent could react. Matt Sensei demonstrated the rotation of the foot on the supporting leg and highlighted the need to deliver the kick without pause by thrusting the hips upwards in a smooth continuous action, once more stealing the energy stored at the end of the technique before.
Matt Sensei then wanted to ensure students understood the concentration required in kumite practice and so encouraged students to land in a specific manner which prevented the student being vulnerable to (double-leg) sweeping if the feet were placed close together whilst making stance. To complete this drill, Matt Sensei returned the exercise full circle to end the sequence by driving back in with a gyaku-tsuki to finish, again pinching the available energy as weight was transferred in the loaded stance.
In true Christmas Course manner, Matt Sensei then split the class into groups of eight where they had to react in selecting the right stance before turning to face partners and repeat the sequence which they had been working on. Students increased the speed and intensity to cap a brilliant session, having examined a number of kumite principles with enough time to grasp exactly what was being looked for by Matt Sensei.
All of the students were then brought together under Alan Sensei to cap a fantastic year of training. Alan Sensei channelled the remaining energy students had to learn Junro Godan. Dividing and then repeating the sequences meant students quickly grasped the techniques involved, for a kata many had not had a chance to attempt before. Motivated by this final lesson, the whole class then split into two groups at the end to perform at full speed and power with the luxury of enough space to concentrate on what knowledge had been imparted. Students brought together the kata as a whole and with big smiles across the room the course was over, for most involved at least!
Here’s to an even more fruitful 2018 for the JKS, whether it be training, officiating, competing or spectating there is a huge amount on offer throughout the year. Please remember to keep an eye on the upcoming events and with courses booking up, remember to get your name down to secure these amazing opportunities.
A dan grading followed the course and congratulations to those who were successful:
Luke Beswick - TKF
Thomas Cahill - Selby Shotokan Karate Club
Leah Fielding - Selby Shotokan Karate Club
James Gale - Kaizen No-Michi
Morgan Gaulton - Kensho Karate Club
Cody Gedge - TKF
Andrew Harding - Grantham Shotokan
Thomas Harding - Grantham Shotokan
Emily Harper - Walsall Karate Dojo
Criodhna Kelly - JKS York
Panashe Mangwana - Walsall Karate Dojo
Kris Orthodoxou - Walsall Karate Dojo
Christopher Pearson - Walsall Karate Dojo
Ella Sau Lan Pitt - Kensho Karate Club
Ethan Rayne - Kensho Karate Club
Heath Waters - Selby Shotokan Karate Club
James Harrison - Kensho Karate Club
Joseph Hird - Leeds Karate Academy
Jessica Maitland - Kensho Karate Club
Stephen Brown - Leeds Karate Academy