Karate Training on Zoom!

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.

Pam Rawson

Report: Covid-19 Update.

The worldwide pandemic continues to affect all of our lives and I am sure that we are all experiencing degrees of uncertainty, which impacts significantly on our well-being and our livelihoods. Experts have mentioned how consistency and regular routines are key to maintaining a healthy level of general wellbeing. I would like to think that in some way the Shikukai community has been able to supply that consistency, albeit through circuitous routes.

In a very practical way we have been able to keep secure contact with all of our members and also bring on-board new members; something we are keen to do.

The Zoom events have proved popular and have certainly not interrupted our Instructor Course programme. The challenges involved in presenting and sharing high quality training through the medium of Zoom has actually opened up new possibilities, as the instructors rise to the test and present new and old ideas in ever more interesting and innovative ways. The most recent instructors course involved three separate presentations of training patterns, concepts and ideas delivered by the most senior Shikukai instructors, with Sugasawa Sensei joining in and adding comments when necessary. These sessions have also given Shikukai members outside of the UK chance to join in with the programme, and in a way has drawn us all closer together. All of these Zoom sessions come completely free of charge.

We have also been presenting Zoom sessions targeting kyu grades, hosted by Sensei Carol Chatterton, Tim Dixon and Richard Barham; these have proved to be very popular as each instructor has a wealth of experience behind them.

Access to these sessions can be found through the Shikukai Members and Clubs Facebook page.

In addition, many of our clubs are steadily beginning to open up and return to face-to-face training. We have all been working hard to stay within Covid-secure guidelines and have been developing different strategies and ever-more devious ways of enriching our training, despite the lack of the up-close and personal necessities of pair training and sparring. It is the creativity of the instructors and the student’s response that unwittingly has produced a wider range of possibilities, which in-turn enriches the broader experience of the complexities of Wado as a system. I genuinely believe that when we finally emerge into some form of ‘normality’ the students who have engaged with these opportunities will not feel that the lock-down and restrictions plunged their training into a period of hibernation or regressive stagnation, but instead they will feel enriched and invigorated by new layers of understanding and application.

Tim Shaw

Announcement – Tokubetsu Shoudan Promotions.

It is with great pleasure that Sugasawa Sensei would like to announce the Tokubetsu Shoudan awards for 2020. These promotion are rare and unique events within Shikukai Karate-Do International and the recipients have been honoured with promotions following the prescribed guidelines and constitutional requirements of the organisation.

7th Dan:
Stephen Chamberlain
Stephen Rawson
Pamela Rawson

6th Dan
Tim Dixon
Carol Chatterton
Richard Barham

5th Dan
Robert Wymer
Robert Selby
Stephen Greenwood

3rd Dan
Douglas Falconer
Natalie Harvey

2nd Dan
Miguel Galue
Roberto Ciuffa
Sue Dodd
Paul Taylor
Nathan Taylor

1st Dan
Patrick Kerneis

Huge congratulations to all.

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                  

Report: Shikukai New Years Instructors course.

This traditional annual training course for senior grade instructors and students took place on Saturday 4th January at the River Bourne Sports Centre in Chertsey. Sugasawa Sensei first welcomed the class and New Year’s ‘Good Wishes’ were exchanged. He mentioned that rather than setting New Year’s resolutions which could easily be broken, he personally preferred to set longer term or more continuous goals. Sensei asked each person for how long they had been training in karate, and the answers ranged from around eight years for the ‘newest’ students to over forty years from a number of those present. Sensei noted that he was pleased to see that so many people were training for such a long time. He said that it was encouraging that even when they are no longer able to take part in competitions or sparring sessions, these students then worked hard to find deeper meaning from their karate practice. He encouraged everyone to ‘keep going!’

Tim Shaw took the warm up with a thorough ‘start-of-the-year’ stretch of the whole body. Many different exercises were performed in a progressive manner to ensure that everyone felt supple and had maximum flexibility ready for the training ahead.

Steve Rawson took the next section of Kihon (basics) concentrating on junzuki and gyakazuki techniques leading into an emphasis on nagashizuki. Steve was able to ensure that many repetitions of each technique were completed whilst encouraging correct movements. He noted common errors to be avoided, introducing a series of drills which kept the practice fresh and dynamic. Students then worked in pairs to ensure that the body-shifting element of nagashizuki was performed effectively against an oncoming attack. The drill then developed further to include one, then two additional nagashi-type movements.

After a short break, the class divided for Kata practise with Sensei giving individual and group support. Carol Chatterton took 1st Kyu to 2nd Dan students through the details of Nai Hanchi Kata. Pam Rawson took those with 3rd Dan and above for Chinto Kata. She broke this kata into individual movements, then combinations and finally practice of the whole kata. For each of these sections she gave clear information about how the techniques should be correctly performed, some of the possible meanings and uses of the movements, and information about timing and tai sabaki (body shifting). Further practice of the full kata starting from a different direction than simply ‘facing the front’ made students think about their position in the dojo. This emphasised the need to be able to rely on ‘muscle memory’ for accurate movement and direction through constant practise. Karateka then observed each other performing the kata and gave detailed feedback on an aspect for improvement.

All too quickly, the enjoyable and informative three- hour session came to an end. Everyone had worked hard throughout. Students and club instructors alike had become engrossed in the stream of group and individual feedback given to them throughout the course. This ensured that they could go away to work on and further improve their techniques, and also that they would be able to pass on their enhanced knowledge to other students.

Tim Dixon

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