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Friday, April 08, 2011

"To Infinity and Beyond"

Above: Buzz Light year

Buzz our hero and Woody's mate from Toy Story, uttered the immortal words, "to infinity and beyond". I have borrowed / stolen the catch phrase to in part respond to my fellow JKS blogger Sensei James Martin from Nottingham.

If you haven't read James's recent post please follow the link from the sidebar to the "Rhino's" blog. James talks about the value of depth of training. I totally agree and would like to add my comments about courses being the Catalyst of innovative instruction.

As well as training at my own club, over the last 7 or 8 years I have also trained weekly with two other local clubs giving me access to senior dan grade instruction. I have made every effort to regularly train with my association senior instructors and attended sessions by many other organisations, every year.

Through the Army Martial Arts Association I have been fortunate enough to also experience a little training in Aikido, Kendo, Taekwondo and JiuJitsu and I can say that I have always been able to take something away from the courses that has improved my karate.

Kato Sensei actively encouraged his students to train with everyone and to also ask questions to deepen their knowledge. As I developed through senior kyu grades and into dan grades I felt more comfortable asking questions and quickly learnt that Sensei usually turned the question round and asked me what I thought.
To begin with I found this a little frustrating, but as time passed I realised that Sensei was developing intelligent instructors. Karateka that were taught principles and given guidance, but were encouraged to develop their own depth of understanding by thinking for themselves, he was not trying to produce clones that could only repeat verbatim what they had been taught.

A few weeks ago I was attending a course where Campbell Sensei was teaching and we were changing direction and blocking Maji Gamae. I found the exercise difficult, it highlighted my poor technique. After the course I was working on the first few moves of Junro Sandan and tried to apply the principles of Campbell Sensei session. I had mixed success. A few weeks later I was training with Campbelll Sensei again and ask how I could apply the principles of what he was teaching to J3. The initial course was a catylist to my further understanding.

Any way back to Buzz. Koike Sensei did a great session at Sensei Danny's in Kent. His instruction broke the basic linear lines of Kihon and he instructed in a very Asai Ryu circular movement style. He described the blocking technique that he was using as like the Infinity Symbol. The stances also involved weight transfer and moving off line.

On Wednesday at our Hambleton dojo Bex was instructing her little Ninjas. I was instructing only four students ranging from an adult beginner, to a karateka that has been a dan grade for over 20 years.

Koike Sensei's session had inspired mine, training basic principles and application of Choku Zuki, Hikate, moving off line of the attack, the hard and soft blocks.
We looked at some of the application of the Tsukami Uke (the grab) from Bassai Dai and how this worked as "Kuzushi" (to break the balance of the opponent) when applied with Tekki Shodan's Nami Gaeshi (wave kick) and how this move could be developed into Sasae Tsuri Komi Ashi (propped drawing ankle throw).

I am in the 100+Kg class (just) myself, but look at the ease of application and the devastation that can be caused. When this technique is delivered, you will probably have to play it a few times or wait for the slow motion repeat to fully appreciate. In the dojo on Wednesday I think Matt found the Kuzushi quite enough without the throw. We can add the throw if you like Matt?


Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, but I was very pleased how the 90 minute session had progressed. From complete beginner to 2nd Dan all students had been fully engaged. They did not get a repeat of Koike Sensei lesson, but an intelligent session that was aimed at the individual.

Karate a Martial art that is endless - "To infinity and beyond!"

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