This year’s Shikukai Autumn Course was held over two days via Zoom. Whilst this type of training has its limitations, on the positive side it meant that everyone could get together without geographical constraints.
Saturday’s session welcomed students from many parts of the UK, Norway, Holland, France and Australia. Sensei opened the proceedings, welcoming everyone and was pleased to see how many people had made the effort to attend. He then handed over to his team of instructors, whilst keeping a close eye on events.
The first session for all grades was taken by Richard Barham 6th Dan Sensei. The first part was a warm up including breathing exercises initiated from the Hara, not merely the chest. He then concentrated on core basics and how they related to Kihon and Kata.
For the first time, Zoom Breakout rooms were used, enabling sessions to be more grade specific. The instructors had previously met together via Zoom to work out the technicalities and all worked well on the day.
Tim Shaw 7th Dan Sensei took the Dan Grades for an hour long session, which he split into two parts. The first half was focussed on the relationship between the centre and techniques that operate at the furthest edges of our reach; including examples from Kihon and Kata. The second half concentrated on operating multiple sequential techniques with the same hand, all connected to the body movements, which, in turn, created free-flowing fighting combinations.
Concurrently, the other Breakout Room for Kyu Grades was lead by Steve & Pam Rawson 7th Dans Senseis. They concentrated on the 60 moves of Kushanku Kata as demonstrated by Grandmaster Otsuka II many years ago on one of his UK courses. The similarity between the first and last moves of the Kata was demonstrated. Use of the Hara in these moves linked back to Richard’s initial session. Some simple Kumite drills were then practised, incorporating moves from the Kata.
The Breakout rooms were then closed and everyone resumed training together for the final 30 minute session which was lead by Bob Wymer 5th Dan Sensei. He linked the movements of the first five Kihon Gumite into a sequence, making it easier for the junior grades to start learning the basic attacks and defences.
Sunday saw a similar number of 40+ students attending with the first general session being taken by Rob Selby 5th Dan Sensei. Rob’s focus was on moving off line and engaging Hara utilising Koshi wo Kiru. He did this by way of a series of drills which stretched both mind and body. The second part looked at various Renketsu Dosa from the Shikukai Syllabus showing how the movements practised in the drills were evident.
The two Breakout sessions were then opened. Steve & Pam Rawson took the Dan Grades, focussing on a series of kumite drills which could be used in a general sparring scenario. These were then varied to incorporate the hand techniques pictured in the Shikukai syllabus. The effect of this was to change the emphasis from competition style to a more traditional Jiyu Kumite.
Steve Chamberlain 7th Dan Sensei took the Kyu Grades. His focus was on explaining to the students what an examiner would look for in a Kyu Grading examination including distance, timing and Zanshin.
Once the breakout sessions were concluded and everyone returned to the main room, Pam Rawson explained how the meaning of familiar Japanese karate terms can be understood from how they are written in Kanji. Among the examples she gave was how the Kanji for Sen (先) “before/to lead/proceed” appears in the following:-
Sen Sei 先 生
Sen Sen No Sen 先 先 の先
Senshu 先 取
To keep up momentum Steve Rawson ended the course with a set of kicking drills culminating in a short warm down. Sensei closed the course by thanking everyone for their efforts and is looking forward to when we can all train together face to face.
Pam Rawson 7th Dan
7th November 2021