The first JKS England Course of 2019 was held in Nottingham on 13th January and although not a Friday some may have felt the day was maybe a little unlucky! A Black and Brown belt session was to be followed by an Open Squad training session and both had fantastic attendances.
The morning began with Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan-Head of JKS England presenting a Yondan diploma to Robin Reid Sensei of JKS Bradford. Alan Sensei gave a special mention to Robin Sensei as a long standing supporter of the JKS and commended his attitude and approach to our art.
A warm up then took place before students would find out what Alan Sensei had in store for them. When Alan Sensei revealed it, some had already spotted a bag discretely resting in the corner of the hall which gave the game away. The morning session was to be spent getting very familiar with tubes and the fantastic rewards which they can bring to karate training.
Those present would be divided into threes and after picking the appropriate strength of band for their grade took a few deep breaths to prepare for what was in store. Guilty or not of indulging over Christmas and the New Year some cobwebs were definitely blown away only seconds after starting. Beginning with gyaku-tsuki and varying band placement and combinations of punching techniques, the groups would rotate to complete the exercise to a count from the higher grades.
The benefit of being in threes was very demanding as those striking could not shorten their technique. With a partner as a target, it meant that every movement had to be fully extended which is easy to lose if the discipline with bands is not maintained when a partner is not there. Concentration is a vital part of this sort of training to ensure the punch is delivered quickly without any pause and in a direct line. The reason for this is efficiency, recruiting the whole body for the technique and using the hip and joints to create the snapping motion to beat the tension afforded by the band.
The gyaku-tsuki sequence would end with a pyramid approach (almost). First one, then two, then three and on… all the way up to ten, with the brief stops between the rapid fire punches really adding pressure to destabilise the rhythm and make the students work even harder. To call it a pyramid approach is maybe a little wide of the mark as this sequence was only really uphill!
Just when students thought they may get a little hard earned rest, Alan Sensei switched the hand for the other side to be used. A tough exercise that really tested student’s resolve it would then be repeated with mae-geri. Again, beginning with the standard kick, before kicking with a stepping forward and finishing with the same drill increasing the number each time students felt energised, although maybe only when they could hand the band over!
A really tough morning’s work gave students a lot to think about and ended with one student in the middle of the band and two others at each end. A non stop attacking and defending drill would then be done with students attacking and defending twenty times each before changing positions. Trying to stabilise their stances and deliver continuous techniques when attacking and responding only to the attacks delivered when defending, this served to surprise students with just how much they had left in the tank.
It really was a case of “I tube, you tube, we tube” as after a short break the remaining few minutes were spent completing either the first or second half of Heian Yondan in the tube, resisted by a partner moving in the opposite direction. This gave the benefit of lateral movements and the importance of correct stance detail and tension to all angles to ensure the band did not pull the student away from the intended line of the kata. After practicing this, Alan Sensei then allowed the tube to be removed to perform the kata without the resistance of the band. This automatically meant students drove into their techniques and stances with more freedom, highlighting the rewards that tube training can bring to all aspects of karate training and not just for basic, static techniques.
A brilliant morning and a short well earned break then saw Matt Price Sensei-JKS England Squad Coach take the Open Squad training session. With a significant number of students remaining, Matt Sensei was in a good position to echo the benefits that tubes can bring and how after training with them students should be in a great position for kumite.
Matt Price Sensei explored some punching techniques and how to train the composite parts of them to ensure the best possible chance of scoring a point in competition, which also translates to help the student escape to safety in other combative engagements. Covering many aspects, students were in threes once more and had an onlooker to give valuable feedback about their technique. Pairing up, students then tried to avoid the oncoming attacks and deliver a counter through efficient movement and quick reactions.
Still with a partner, Matt Sensei then gave a faultless demonstration of the ability to utilise movements in their partner’s guard to open up opportunities when employing kicking techniques. By changing height, technique and position, students tried to touch their partner who was prevented from moving backwards by a wall! Matt Sensei stressed the need for a blocking structure to deal with the oncoming kicks efficiently but also one which ensure the options for counter-attacking are maximised, reducing traditional cross blocking to prevent any loss of speed or the karateka tying themselves in knots.
Encouraging students to maintain relaxation and focus, students endeavoured to understand and develop their ability with the kumite techniques Matt Sensei had mentioned.
Finishing with a sweep which Matt Sensei had been impressed with at the recent WKF World Championships he was an enthusiastic spectator at; Matt Sensei had capped a morning of training that many students may never forget and an awesome way to kick off the 2019 calendar.