At the beginning of 2020 the thought of karate training online was not something Steve and I had considered, but as the pandemic drew on, it became clear that something would have to be done to keep us all in touch and maintain our training in whatever form we could.
Our first session using Zoom was somewhat trial and error. We had originally hoped to do it outside, using an I-Pad but that didn’t work so we cleared surplus furniture out of our study and used the computer instead.
We quickly learned what ideas would work and what wouldn’t due to lack of space and internet quality. It soon became clear that the normal lesson style involving student correction was not practicable and a different approach had to be found.
We would divide each session into short sections, each covering a different aspect and developing a theme over a few weeks. Shikukai students have embraced this new approach to training, which in turn has given the Shikukai senior instructors the opportunity to run sessions, including Instructor Courses.
On Saturday 7th November Steve and I held a general Zoom training, where over 30 students of all grades joined in for 90 minutes of hard training. Sugasawa Sensei joined the session and as ever, maintained his watchful eye over proceedings.
The session began with a recap of Meoto-te and Jodan/Chudan/Gedan areas of attack/defence. For the past few weeks I have been explaining to the students how the Kanji readings and meanings of karate terminology are interlinked. The example I used on Saturday was the “Chu” 中 in chudan being the same Kanji as the “Chu” in Sei Chu Sen (literally “correct centre line”). Punching, striking, covering, blocking and kicking techniques were combined in a variety of ways to exercise both mind and body.
During this session, we reminded students of the three main principles of punching, as reiterated by Sensei Sugasawa on a previous Zoom course.
During a short break for rehydration, I gave a brief explanation on the main points to consider whilst practising Kata. Pinan Godan was then covered for the benefit of the junior grades, followed by an in-depth look at Chinto. This was broken down into sections of four to six techniques, each section being practised several times before moving on to the next. Once completed, the sections were all put together, culminating in the complete kata.
We then moved on to pair work, (including I-dori) which involved practice of the earlier principles, but without the physical presence of a partner. It was commendable to see the students learning the pairs techniques in this way.
Steve and I would like to thank Sensei and Shikukai students for supporting the Zoom sessions run by us and the other Seniors. We know it is not ideal, but at least we can all continue learning and training.