Report: Shikukai Winter Course, Chelmsford, Essex.

The annual Winter Course at Chelmsford is always deservedly popular and 2020 was no exception. With students and instructors travelling from as far afield as Norway, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary and England there is always a strong feeling of the Shikukai Family coming together to train, share and learn. 

Once again training took place over four days, starting on Thursday night under Shouwa Jyuku Instructor Tim Shaw 7th Dan, assisted by Steve Thain 4th Dan, and beginning with the art of moving from A to B. This lead on to triangular footwork, initially from Shuto Uke, then to the connected move in Bassai and ended with applied pairs work.

Friday night was led by Sugasawa Sensei at the usual location of Woodham Walter Junior School, the location of Chelmsford’s children’s class. The session’s focus was Seichusen, with Sensei starting the class before handing over to Tim Shaw Sensei, whilst he moved amongst the students offering guidance and correcting any errors or misconceptions. The session gradually built up, taking in Tobikomi Junzuki Jodan, before ending with Sanmi Ittai Dosa.

Friday night’s social was at Bunsay Down’s Golf Club, where the wood-burning stove was much appreciated by a number of people. After the meal was a quiz, which luckily for some of us featured a picture round, thank goodness for Pokemon and Pikachu. Congratulations to Pam Rawson Sensei 6th Dan and Steve Rawson Sensei 6th Dan and Pål Midtsæther Grødahl on winning the quiz.

Saturday dawned bright and clear (more on the weather later) and training moved to the Danbury Sports Centre. The popularity of the Winter Course became obvious with the dojo packed with students of all grades and ages – juniors through to senior instructors.

This year the Saturday training had a separate children’s class, which included students from Chelmsford (Woodham Walter), Hertford and Mark Searson’s Seishan group.

Pam Rawson Sensei began with a gentle warm-up, before Steve and Pam Rawson Senseis took the Senior Students through some basics. The session continued Sensei’s theme of Seichusen, but this time emphasising correct posture and focus on hikite movement.  Students practised individually and in pairs on a variety of drills. This enabled the students to identify the correct muscles that come into play and how these can affect the control of your centre line.

After a break Tim Shaw Sensei and Atilla Jakab Sensei 3rd Dan took the 2nd Dans and above through Bassai Kata, again concentrating on  Seichusen alongside the tempo of the Kata. The brown belts and 1st Dans worked with Gary Ockwell Sensei 5th Dan and Pam Rawson Sensei on a series of kicking drills ending in combinations that focused on relaxation. Meanwhile Carol Chatterton Sensei 5th Dan took the junior students through Pinan Shodan then Steve Rawson Sensei followed with pair work, applying principles from Pinan Shodan. Kyu gradings also took place and congratulations to those students who passed. Saturday’s training was followed by 1 hour of free practice.

Saturday night’s meal was back in Chelmsford at the Two Brewers. Again a fantastic night, with lots of catching up and a very enthusiastic game of Chinese Whispers making a return from last year!    

Sunday’s session began with Sensei presenting Adam Jakab from Hungary with his 2nd Dan Certificate. The session then started with Gary Ockwell Sensei warming us all up, before the groups split again. Steve Rawson Sensei alongside Martijn Schelen Sensei 3rd Dan, took the Senior students through kicking drills working in groups of four emphasising correct body position during the kicks. This then developed into defences against kicks with a focus on Irimi. While this was happening, the junior students were focusing on kicks and Taisabaki with Carol Chatterton Sensei and Tim Dixon Sensei 5th Dan.

After this Pam Rawson Sensei took the senior grades through the finer points of Wanshu kata whilst the 1st Dan and Brown belt students once again worked with Gary Ockwell Sensei on learning Wanshu kata with Sugasawa Sensei giving valuable insight and advice where needed. Steve and Pam Rawson Senseis then introduced some variations on Kumite Gata with the Senior Dan grades. The junior students practised Pinan Sandan and pair work with Tim Shaw Sensei and David Vlk Sensei.

All too soon the course was over. Sensei thanked all those who had attended and made special mention for the fantastic effort the members of Chelmsford’s Shouwa Jyuku club had made to make the course such a great experience for all of us. Then it was out into storm Ciara and a safe journey home for all.

Andrew Skelton
3rd Kyu                  

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