The JKS England Autumn Technical Seminar was held in Nottingham on the 13th and 14th October. Sensei Kosho Kanayama 7th Dan JKS and Head of JKS Development within Japan was the visiting instructor, although many people may know him as “The Machine”. This is a nickname which is fully deserved and brings with it a clear level of anticipation and popularity for any courses taught by Kanayama Sensei. A supreme talent with a relentless focus, Kanayama Sensei would not disappoint, leading two days of excellent training which could not have fitted the brief of a technical seminar any more.
Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan, Head of JKS England welcomed all of the students to the course and reaffirmed the appreciation for Kanayama Sensei’s presence. An energetic warm up then got the course off to a flying start which Kanayama Sensei sustained. The class began with shiko-dachi to ready the legs for the hours to come. First static and then hopping from stance to stance, attention to detail was forever present from Kanayama Sensei who would always qualify the importance of the points he would stress, such as knee position, posture, stance depth and hip position. Hops were done forwards, backwards, sideways and then twisting to test student’s stability, tension and control. Completed in reasonable numbers it is safe to say the legs were most definitely warm when Kanayama Sensei had declared that the students had stayed low and moved quietly enough!
Kanayama Sensei then concentrated on hip action and the important difference between shomen and hamne (forward and side facing), working and advancing blocking and countering combinations. By this point, students new to Kanayama Sensei would already recognize the need for repetition to develop technique and they were always afforded enough time to implement the guidance provided. This introduction to the basics then flowed into combinations found in the shodan black belt syllabus with some good kicking drills exploited to help explain vital aspects of technique which Kanayama Sensei was eager to see.
Kanayama Sensei would then spend a good amount of time on gohon kumite (five step sparring) to capitalise on the lessons mentioned throughout the morning. The session continued to be physically demanding but the technical aspect was never overlooked. Striving for consistency with distance and knee placement, Kanayama Sensei helped to explain his points with clear demonstrations from himself and when helping other students. It is clear that Kanayama Sensei never does anything half-heartedly, and in this atmosphere, it fully encourages the students without anything needing to be said. An ideal karate-ka to admire, the quality Kanayama Sensei brings to the dojo is more than enough, but along with it, his teaching capability fosters maximum concentration and perseverance for anyone under his tutelage.
The first day finished with Jion, which again, continued principles permeating the session, especially the age-uke gyaku-tsuki (rising block reverse punch) sequence. Moving through the kata, students appreciated that even at the highest level; all of the teaching points made earlier would apply.
The second day would begin similarly with a welcome and warm up but it would be kiba-dachi taking centre stage as the way to prepare the legs for the session. Adding punching techniques and then squats the session would deliver a focus on kihon once more to start, but this time in addition it utilised turning to mimic movements found within kata. Working squats to develop the front knee and stressing the nature of the back leg, Kanayama Sensei created a comprehensive basic sequence
to ensure stance and technique was always at the forefront of the student’s mind. Students would squat to keep pressure in the stance transitions and strike to the front, side and behind, always trying hard to prevent any wasted effort up and down or movement of the hikite hand for example. Kicking techniques then replaced the punches as the body was sufficiently loose. Working to the same template and with the same level of attention, Kanayama Sensei emphasised the worth of correct, efficient turning and how to engage the heel for backwards turns, enabling pressure and therefore technique to be delivered in the newly established direction. Punches would then be added back in to follow the kicks and I’m sure many students and instructors alike will be pinching or modifying this drill as it was an engaging and comprehensive look at multiple features of basic technique.
Kanayama Sensei then moved on to look at tobi konde (leaping/jumping step) and the value this adds to attacks. Some very compelling demonstrations from Kanayama Sensei added to the will for students to move further and faster but always land quietly with the toes and ball of the foot first. Initially the attacks were delivered to thin air but quickly partners were introduced to combine the elements covered from the first day’s training. Working from a much greater distance, students recalled the gohon kumite advice and supplemented this with the need to use bodyweight and control to serve a powerful attack with intent. Returning to the advice for kihon as well, Kanayama Sensei would show how the hip position and engagement of the legs at the appropriate time can give both punching and kicking attacks a long range, but also be very fast to cover the distance. Students would finish this part of the session with alternating attacks, a good bit of fun seeing the speed and intensity escalate as students pushed to retain good form when the pressure from their opponent mounted.
In the second part of the session Kanayama Sensei would take an in depth look at the first three Junro katas. With a watchful eye, he would then show the textbook technique to aspire to before instructing a student on how to perform the kata. A huge amount of information would be conveyed in this section and brains were certainly fried trying to remember all of the detail passed on to them.
Kanayama Sensei has a knack of making training challenging and keeping it on the edge physically so students can be close to maintaining the form which they are practicing to improve without an easy ride. This was perfectly illustrated when “The Machine” reminded everyone about the significance of fitness in martial arts where staple exercises were used to conclude the class. This also allowed Kanayama Sensei to cement the lasting reminder that he would have on their bodies! Sit ups, leg raises and toe touches were followed by superman lifts and finally press ups. Ending the course with slow press ups, most could breathe a sigh of relief that the session was at an end. Many would be tired and fatigued but like the smiling assassin he is, Kanayama Sensei showed the same level of enthusiasm and humour for every second of the course. Choosing to participate from start to finish and not just delegate, it is clear why Kanayama Sensei is an unstoppable force of technique and a fantastic asset to JKS karate and all he teaches. Congratulations to all of those who survived!
For some however, a short rest would be all that was offered ahead of attempting a shodan or nidan grading. Congratulations to those who passed and just a matter of time for those who didn’t, Kanayama Sensei certainly displays the attitude needed to make the improvements suggested by the examiners.
A dan grading then followed the course upon completion of the seminar. Congratulations to those successful this time around, all of whom are listed below. Once again, there is some excellent video and pictures from Robert Graham Photography on the JKS England Facebook page and details are on here and the JKS website for upcoming courses. Please keep an eye out and book early to guarantee your place.
Harry Dunkley - Walsall Karate Dojo
Shaun Frary - TKF
Rory Gaulton - Kensho Karate Club
Alex Haigh - Leeds Karate Academy
Luanna Roque Henriques - Walsall Karate Dojo
Sanjay Majithia - Walsall Karate Dojo
Scott Perkins - TKF
Ethan Smith - Leeds Karate Academy
Ewan Townsend - Can Do Martial Arts
Ellis Walker - Leeds Karate Academy
Daisie Winter - Kensho Karate Club
John Gough Jnr - Kensho Karate Club
Robin Reid - JKS Bradford
Darren Rushton - Walsall Karate Dojo