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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Course with Sensei Dave Hazard 15th September 2006

I had plans to go and see my brother down in Romsey on Friday, when I remembered that I had received an e mail a week or so ago about a course with Hazard Sensei. I hadn't thought much about it because it was right down in Kent and I live in North Yorkshire (about 200 miles away).

I checked the detail of the course and it was on the Thursday evening at Dartford Shotokan Karate Club. It is probably 80 miles out of my way and added 5 hours onto my journey, but what the hell. After a quick e mail to make sure it was ok to just turn up on the night, my plans were made...3 hours of training with Hazard Sensei to look forward to.

The first hour of training was for Kyu grades, this was followed by two hours of black and brown belt training. Sensei explained to us at the end of the night that his Sensei had said Kihon was like "paying tax", as a beginner you pay a high rate of tax, may be 90% tax, as you progress to brown belt you may reduce to 50 to 60% tax, while you work at kata and some kumite. As a Shodan you may on pay say 40% tax and as a high dan grade may be only 3 to 5% Kihon tax.

Kihon is very important, the foundation of all of your karate, but as you progress past shodan you should widen your efforts. Who would want a house with 4 levels of foundations and a roof on top, with no ground and first floors? I read an article somewhere, a mature student had joined a new club and was discussing his previous fifteen years training with his new (young) Sensei. The Sensei may have put it a bit harsh when he said" It doesn't look like you have trained for fifteen years it looks more like you have trained for one year, fifteen times"

For the first hour we were paying "tax", (I would not have expected anything else) I still have a lot to learn and must improve my Kihon before I can think about taking my Shodan. Towards the end of the first hour we did some blocking techniques while transferring weight from front stance to back stance, so that you stayed close to the attacker to follow up with an effective counter attack. The session finished with some Heian Nidan bunkai.

The theme of transferring weight in stances was continued in the second session, where we transferred from Neko Ashi dachi or Sanchin dachi. Sensei built up the sequence of attacks and defense. He explained that he thought of a sequence "as a steps on a staircase", the moves being taught almost robotically, but once the Sequence was learnt you needed to "round off the corners" not a sequence of 7 or 8 moves but "one continuing flowing movement"

One very useful piece of advice that Gullen Shihan has given me with respect to a course or indeed learning in general is, when Sensei explains something, get where you can see, stand at attention, ready to receive instruction, look straight at Sensei, soak up all he has to say, it becomes almost like a personal lesson, he has come to teach you, being a Yorkshire man a final comment.. you have paid good money for that course, or that lesson, take all that you can from it. I have tried this approach on a number of occasions, especially when combinations are being explained and I do seem to be able to absorb more information than I previously could.

The second period followed with Bassai Sho and some Bunkai. This is not a kata I have done before and I felt at a bit of a loss surrounded by some senior grades. I always have a temptation to try and retain more and more kata, but for now I must concentrate on my kata for grading and leave Bassai Sho behind for another year.

I have not trained with Sensei Hazard before, or indeed the club that hosted the training. I would like to thank you all for your hospitality and a great course. Osu!

SENSEI DAVE HAZARD 7th DAN is the EKGB Chief Instructor & Chairman to Academy of Shotokan Karate (ASK). Sensei Dave Hazard is held in high esteem in Shotokan Karate Circles. He was one of the few students around at the very beginning of British karate in the late 1960's, training at the famous Blackfriars dojo under the late Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda.

He was also one of the first English instructors to train at the honbu dojo of the Japan Karate Association. Like many of his contemporaries, Sensei Hazard's first encounter with the Martial Arts was in 1966 through Judo, which he practiced for three years before coming across Karate at the London Blackfriars dojo in August 1969. At this time, Japanese Sensei's Enoeda, Kanazawa, Kato and Takahashi all taught lessons there.

I read an interview a while ago when Sensei Dave Hazard talked about his introduction to Karate. He turned up at a hall where 12 students were training with 4 Japanesse (those named above). Sensei had seen nothing like it and borrowed a gi and started the following week.

Kato Sensei had them in a line in front stance, he was kicking their legs to see how strong they were. When he came to Hazard Sensei he said "strong?", "Yes!" he replied (no "Sensei" or nothing) with that Kato Sensei swept him to the floor and walked off.

Hazard Sensei had grown up in the East End, and as was his custom he jumped up and took a swing at Kato Sensei, he saw it coming and executed a well timed back kick. What an excellent introduction to Karate! This shoews the importance of understanding dojo etiquette.

Can you imagine starting karate in the early 70's and training with Sensei's Enoeda, Kanazawa and Kato on your first night?

A bit more of Hazard Sensei's background...

Among Sensei Hazard's contemporaries were the likes of Terry O'Neil, Bob Rhodes, Bob Poynton, Billy Higgins and Steve Cattle. On 21st December 1972, Sensei Enoeda awarded Sensei Hazard his 1st Dan at the Blackfriars dojo. He followed this with years of successes at the KUGB championships where he became a national champion and a member of the British team.

In 1977 Sensei Hazard decided to widen his karate education by travelling to Japan with a letter of introduction from Sensei Enoeda. After just a couple of weeks training in the normal classes Sensei Hazard was recommended for the rare privilege of attending the highly prestigious yet notorious JKA instructors class. These classes were taught by such renowned karate names as Sensei's Shoji, Ueki and Kanazawa. Most notably though, and most often the classes were taken by Master Nakayama himself – student of Master Funokoshi, the `father of modern day karate'.

Over the period of one year, he found himself training six hours each day, six days a week. Shortly before leaving Japan, Sensei Hazard successfully took his 3rd Dan grading under non-other than Master Nakayama himself.

Many karate associations appreciate Sensei Hazard's skills and technical excellence. At present he is chief grading examiner for the Highland Karate Association, technical advisor to the Karate Union of Wales and the Federation of Shotokan Karate. In the year 2000, Sensei Hazard became part time assistant to Ticky Donovan OBE on the EKGB National Squad. Although recruited primarily as the national kata coach, Sensei Hazard has also helped immensely with the athletes involved in kumite.

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