The inaugural Spanish Shikukai Autumn course was held at Albir near Benidorm, Alicante on 9/10/11 October 2016. Most students stayed at the Albir Garden Resort which proved to be an excellent venue with comfy beds, substantial breakfasts, good showers and a great outdoor swimming pool. Students travelled from across the UK, France, Holland and Norway.
A short bus ride took students to the light and airy training venue at Pabellón Municipal Pau Gasol in L’alfas del Pi. Day 1 began with using the bleacher seating as a training aid both for stretching the legs and focussing techniques. Sensei proved he could still outstretch everyone by effortlessly placing his leg on the highest row of seats possible. The first session involved using the spaces between the rows of seats as focus points for techniques. There were several loud clashes when students had not quite perfected this drill! Sensei then moved on to Kata, covering Pinan Nidan in depth, particularly concentrating on the final four moves. The junior grades continued their practice under Sensei’s watchful eye while the seniors went on to practice Chinto Kata.
On Day 2 Sensei again took students through a thorough warm up after which Junzuki and Gyakazuki movements were practiced in pairs using alternating hand techniques. Emphasis was on a relaxed shoulder action throughout the technique and not concentrating on the end result. The importance of correct posture, hand movement and position of the pelvis was stressed in the practice of Seishan Kata. The seniors practiced Seishan in detail while the junior grades worked on the Pinan katas. The session finished with Ji Yu Kumite, the emphasis being on continuous attack and defence movement as opposed to individual scoring techniques (similar to the recent Over-50 years category at the recent Wado Championships in Japan.)
The final day started with continuous techniques around the dojo to loosen up aching muscles and then maintained the emphasis from Day 1 of how to release a technique as opposed to the end result. This was achieved through a variety of drills designed to make students aware of which muscles needed to be fired up. Sensei emphasised the importance of Sogu (skimming action) when performing techniques including Naiwan, Gaiwan and Gedan Harai Uke. The session continued with Kihon Gumite numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 while the juniors practiced Nihon Gumite.
It was not just the superb training, but also the social activities that made this a course to remember. Once training was over for the day students went to the beach, checked out the many local bars and restaurants, swam in the outdoor pool, or simply relaxed on a lounger. Later each evening everyone met up for a social meal, ranging from Thai, to Indian to traditional fare. The most memorable night was at the local seafront Columbus Restaurant which had a nautical theme with excellent food and drink. We were joined by Sensei Bob Flowers from Bristol who happened to be staying nearby. In true “Bob” style we had phone calls with some old karate friends back in the UK. An additional guest at the table was Dave, a local radio presenter and a long time friend of Carol’s, who had made a broadcast earlier in the week promoting the course and referring to Sensei as the Commander in Chief!
At the end of the course Sensei thanked Carol for organising the event and the students for making the effort to attend. Everyone was impressed with the facilities both for accommodation and training and would like to return in the future.