It was always going to be a risk to organise the first large scale face-to-face Shikukai course in two years, but we went ahead anyway, and I am pleased to say that it turned out to be a major success.
The course was over two days at the Danbury Leisure Centre, five miles from central Chelmsford in Essex, and attracted Shikukai members and non-members from all over the UK.
Here in Essex, we have been hosting the winter course, even before it was recognised as the ‘official’ Winter Course for a long time now. Actually, this has been over ten years of continued teamwork by the Shouwa Jyuku seniors, who have been dedicated to the task of making sure everything runs like clockwork and that time and space for some serious training has been facilitated. Top that off with a stella group of senior Shikukai instructors and you have the perfect combination for an amazing weekend. This was brought home by the broad smiles on people’s faces – I think we were just pleased to be back in the Dojo and working together collectively.
Training had been designed to tap into the very things we’d missed the most; for example, on both Saturday and Sunday, an hour and a half each day was dedicated to Kumite (pairs work). We also pulled everything back to core principles – Sugasawa Sensei had been very insistent that we return to our fundamentals and review the areas that are best designed to highlight those elements; hence, for the seniors, the kata section focussed on Pinan Shodan and Pinan Yondan. These two particular kata will easily reveal your weaknesses and force you to examine your essential Wado mechanisms.
The training covered a wide range of techniques and was comprehensive at all levels; nobody felt out of their depth; yes, we were challenged, but this was very much about improvement and growth. Across the two days the training maintained the balance of being physically demanding and technically challenging; so much information coming from the instructors and shared between the trainees.
In addition, although we had scaled it down from previous years, the social opportunities and chances to get together on the Friday and Saturday evenings happened anyway. Our organisation team had booked tables at local restaurants, which inevitably spilled into enjoying the local music scene in Chelmsford on the Saturday night. Naturally, everyone was aware of the demands of Sunday’s training, with some people taking grading exams, so things remained civilised.
A Shodan examination happened on the Sunday and the successful candidates were:
Margaret Harris of Kikuwa Jyuku Dojo, Chippenham.
Tom Wilkins of Mushin Jyuku Dojo, Devon.
I am very much indebted to the invaluable contributions of instructors; Pam Rawson 7th Dan, Steve Rawson 7th Dan, Richard Barham 6th Dan, Rob Selby 5th Dan and Steve Thain 4th Dan. And for the continued inspiration of Sugasawa Sensei.
Special thanks to Steve Thain and Natalie Harvey for their tireless organisation and coordination, without which this would never have happened.
The next main Shikukai course is the Spring Course in Weymouth, details on our ‘Courses’ page.