The JKS England annual Summer Course was held over the weekend of 21st and 22nd of July in Nottingham. It would prove to be a great test for the feet in some inescapable heat. Alan Campbell Sensei, Head of JKS England formally introduced the instruction team for the weekend and with commitments on the Sunday, the Saturday would see a seminar dedicated solely to Paul Newby Sensei. Paul Sensei is a true martial artist; combining great talent and enthusiasm, his career has led to the heights of being a WKF World Karate Champion and having success as a professional boxer. Paul Sensei is now an instructor in the highest demand for seminars covering a wide variety of martial arts with both striking and wrestling/grappling ones in his comprehensive arsenal.
Before Paul Sensei got his session underway, Matt Price Sensei intervened to honour Alan Sensei on his 40th year in karate. A special presentation (which included just a wee bit of whisky) was made following the generosity of JKS members throughout the country. Graciously received, the final gift was a 40 year old whisky, a very special age and a fitting acknowledgment of Alan Sensei’s achievements over this period. Congratulations Alan Sensei!
The session then began and Paul Sensei would make sure everyone was in no doubt as to the effort he expects from his students (and why some are world beaters). Starting with pulse bouncing in all directions, those in attendance soon began to challenge the integrity of their feet. Pushing students to maintain the same height and with small, fast pulses, the control was then passed to a partner to prime the reactions for changing direction and exploding forward. Paul Sensei then added sideways escapes to this by twisting the hips and stressing the importance of instantaneous movement to give the biggest possible safety margin. As students were then paired up, the oncoming attacker then had to respond to the practiced escape by striking with the closest hand. This drill was used as the basis for the morning session where Paul Sensei expanded it to include vital skills demonstrated along the way. It grew to involve kicks where the timing and technique choice became vital. Finally, the onus of control was placed back on the retreating, pressurised defender who would fake to one side before evading the counter from the opponent in the opposite direction. A brilliant drill which worked timing, distance, technique selection and required a smooth relaxed approach was enjoyed by all. Students also realised just how much content Paul Sensei had packed into it and of the relevance to current kumite practice!
Along the way Paul Sensei had shown his deep understanding of not only competition kumite but the relevance of how the ideas within it permeate the wider practice of martial arts. Paul Sensei then centred his attntion on footwork to practice pivoting, utilising a triangle of gloves on the floor. A partner was then used to help students appreciate the distance and benefits that correct pivoting can bring in order to gain the upper hand. Students then spent a good amount of time training to bring these points together, resetting each time with focus and training on weight transfer, establishing the correct pivot and moving to create opportunity. This finished with an ura-mawashi-geri defence and pivot to enable a score on the pursuing attacker.
Paul Sensei also then looked at the need for complete body control to circumvent fast punching attacks through dodging with the head and dipping the shoulder. This was
covered at multiple distances and showed that it doesn’t always need the biggest movement to avoid the strike.
Paul Sensei completed the day by working on a single leg takedown, foot lock and leg lock. With a skill level that matches his passion, Paul Sensei’s effortless teaching style meant students quickly grasped the task at hand, or maybe that should be leg at hand! Unfamiliar territory for most, I’m sure some students present were happy to be lying on their back, if only for a split second’s to give some respite from burning feet. The day soon then came to a close and with blisters a plenty, a big round of applause had been well earned by Paul Sensei for his excellent tuition. Back home for many and some rest and relaxation it would be more great training on the Sunday.
With a few more faces added to the crowd, it would be Steve Carless Sensei’s turn to instruct on Sunday morning. Steve Sensei began with a warm up which contained a number of “challenging” exercises which showcase the advantages brought by advanced flexibility and strength in karate practice.
Steve Sensei started with some basics, performing slowly first, to exaggerate the stance, hip position and control of the technique, this was followed by completing them at speed with students ready to concentrate on these points in mind when the combination was performed. The sequences began with single blocks and followed the grading syllabus kihon as additional moves were added after each step. This covered an enormous amount of basics in a short space of time and also helped those grading appreciate the progression within the system which needs to be displayed.
Kata was then used as a platform to further some of the teaching points raised by Steve Sensei. Enpi was performed with relevant detailed explanations and JKS standardisation covered. Bunkai applications, merged from dan grade katas (Sochin, Gojushiho-Dai and Chinte) was then explored with partners, to illustrate just how encyclopaedic the catalogue of katas can be when viewed in the right light.
After this, Steve Sensei looked at timing of punches, something much easier said than done. With student in groups of four they were set up to strike the side of the body when the person in front of them made gyaku-tsuki. A tricky exercise which needed constant concentration meant avoiding the returning arm was a key feature in delivery. Moving on from Steve Sensei’s count students then reacted to each other as a fun way of training a vital skill within our martial art. Steve Sensei finished with a close look at the Asai-ryu kata Kashu to cap a great morning of training.
After the lunch break it was over to Alan Sensei who looked at a number of different defensive strategies for punching attacks. Maintaining control over the opponent by blocking with the leading hand and taking over, Alan Sensei showed how quickly the defender can seize the initiative to counter strongly and effectively. Combining foot movement and awareness of the attacks, Alan Sensei explored the options when finding the position on both the inside and outside, reminding students of the need to attack strongly for proper practice without hesitation to prevent any opportunity being lost. Expressing many variances, Alan Sensei heralded the usefulness of “softeners”, delivered quickly and directly to allow the defender to control their opponent’s posture and position. Adding mawashi-uke, students could easily see a fuller range of techniques and how playing with this can improve the understanding of some techniques covered only occasionally. A final drill would look at some more basic blocks and how both hands should be ever active in their availability for use to address oncoming strikes, not blocking at the typical point but using the preparation/marking hand to receive the technique. Alan Sensei made numerous points regarding how kihon should never confine one’s thoughts, but instead be a basis for expansive and unrestricted ideas, never stifling the options possible.
Alan Sensei concluded the course with grade appropriate kata practice, detailing the choice and intensity needed on katas being learned and also reminding students about those which should continue to improve after having been performed in gradings previously.
A dan grading then followed the course upon completion in a hot room, full of many tired bodies. Congratulations to those successful this time around. All passess are listed below. Please see the JKS Facebook page and website for videos and pictures of the weekend, as well as upcoming courses with more of the same superb instruction.
Graciela Amulong – Walsall Karate Dojo
Dominic Anderson – Seibukan Karate Club
Gabriel Angeles – Walsall Karate Dojo
Sophia Lara Cunningham – TKF
Edward Dewhurst – JKS York
Timothy Harrison – TKF
James Leveridge – TKF
Rohan Panday – TKF
Alan Turner – JKS Gilwern
Oliver Turner – JKS Gilwern
Ynno Angeles – Walsall Karate Dojo
Gerraint Price – JKS Treharris
Theo Sharpe - Kensho Karate Club