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Report – Shikukai Autumn Course, Chippenham, Wilts.

The annual Shikukai Autumn Course at The Olympiad in Chippenham is always looked forward to and this year was no exception. Over 40 students travelled from far and wide, braving the inclement weather, to take part in a weekend of varied and interesting training lead by Sensei Sugasawa and assisted by his team of senior instructors.

Prior to the commencement of training Mokuto was observed in memory of the late Peter Suzuki Sensei and Shingo Ohgami Sensei who had both passed away recently. This was followed by the presentation to Teresa Claxton of her 1st Dan Certificate and Shikukai embroidered Black Belt.

Teresa Claxton presented with Shodan certificate & obi by Sugasawa Sensei.

After a short warm up taken by Pam Rawson, the session commenced with basics lead by Steve & Pam Rawson Senseis. Emphasis was placed on moving correctly between stances, focusing on the interaction between Junzuki/Gyakuzuki/Junzuki No Tsukkomi and Gyakuzuki No Tsukkomi.  Techniques were performed in various directions with the importance of keeping the correct Sei Chu Sen emphasized throughout. The students were then paired up and practised drills involving Tobikomi Nagashizuki and Ayumi Ashi Nagashizuki.

Following a short break the class was split into three groups – 2nd Dan and above, 3rd Kyu to 1st Dan and 4th Kyu and below. The Seniors worked with Tim Shaw Sensei who took them through Ni Sei Shi kata in detail, with interesting comparisons in the various versions of the kata.  Steve & Pam Rawson Senseis introduced the brown belts and 1st Dans to Chinto kata. For many of them this was their first attempt at getting to know the kata.  The lower grades trained under the direction of Tim Dixon Sensei. They worked on Kihon, improving their kicking technique, followed by Pinan Nidan and Pinan Shodan, finishing off with basic Taisabaki in simple pairworks.

Throughout the training Sensei Sugasawa kept a watchful eye and moved among the various groups, giving his personal instruction. A Kyu grading was held after training with five candidates being successful.

The venue for the Saturday night social was The Pheasant Inn, Chippenham, where good food and company ensured a pleasant evening as always.

Being Remembrance Sunday, the next day’s training began with Mokuto. Tim Shaw Sensei lead the warm up and the class was then divided into two halves, facing each other across the Dojo, so that the junior grades could watch the techniques of the Seniors. Kihon practice commenced with Naihanchi stance, moving on to Junzuki, Gyakuzuki, Junzuki No Tsukkomi and Gyaku No Tsukkomi, concentrating on correct body shift. Nagashi movement was then covered, moving both forward and backwards.

After a short break the class was split into three groups as on the previous day. Steve & Pam Rawson Senseis lead the Seniors session on the finer points of Seishan kata, emphasizing how important it was to understand and perform the correct movements, particularly when instructing, as students will inevitably copy their Instructor’s technique. This was followed by Kihon Gumite practice. The students were asked to perform Kihons 1 to 10 without pausing or resetting in between, which was invaluable in getting them to think and react quickly.

Carol Chatterton Sensei & Tim Dixon Sensei worked with the middle group on Naihanchi Kata and Kumite Gata (Jodan Soto Uke and Uchi Uke.) Tim Shaw Sensei took the junior grades through a detailed explanation of Pinan Yondan Kata.  As before, Sensei Sugasawa continued his observation of the different groups, imparting his specialist knowledge.

All too soon, time was up. Sensei Sugasawa thanked everyone for their involvement, in particular Carol, Ian & the Chippenham Club for hosting another very successful and enjoyable course.

Pam Rawson

13/11/19

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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

Report – 2019 Shikukai Xmas end of year course, Chertsey Surrey.

I believe the first thing I should do is explain the special significance of this training session to me.  This will be the first instructor training session I have participated in for 5 years, indeed the only 3 hour training session in this period.  In the intervening time I have had one emergency surgery to save my life and another to save my left leg.   As a result, I had some concerns about my fitness and ability to meet my expectations for my grade.  The break has however given my persistent knee problems time to settle down.

So, you can imagine that I approached the course with some trepidation and excitement.  But one of the joys of any Shikukai training session is getting to see some dear friends, and this course was no exception.   There were some notable absences, Stephen and Pam Rawson from Weymouth, Gary Ockwell from Swindon and Rob Selby from Exmouth and their respective students.

The class began with a standing bow to Sensei Sugasawa and the class.   The warm-up was taken by Sensei Tim Shaw which challenged many in the room, me included.  The notable exceptions were the Chelmsford ladies, the Chelmsford men not so much!

Sensei Tim then, at Sensei’s behest, instructed the class.  We began with basics in line starting with simple Junzuki with MawattJodan Nagashi Uke and Mawatte Harai Uke.  This progressed on to Junzuki Nido Zuki and Junzuki Nido Zuki Sonoba Gyaku Jodan Nagashi Uke,  Sonoba Zuki.  Specific emphasis was placed on the appropriate hip engagement, fluidity of the movement and maintenance of a vertical Sei Chu Sen throughout.  I was personally reminded to stay relaxed and maintain a constant height.  We subsequently substituted Gaiwan Nagashi Uke for the Jodan Uke in the combination.  At Sensei’s instruction we changed the final Junzuki exercise to Nido Jodan Nagashi Uke followed by Sando Zuki.

This was followed by a similar exercise based on Gyakuzuki.  We were reminded on the importance of a smooth transition to Gyakuzuki stance when executing “Sonoba Ippon Toru GyakuzukiGyakuzuki emphasis was on opening the hip before stepping through and eradication of unnecessary up and down or side to side body movement.

I found the floor to ceiling mirrors exceptionally useful in checking my movement.  This was complemented by the fact that I was standing behind Stephen Chamberlain and Carol Chatterton giving me a visual queue.

After a short, but much needed break, we continued our work on the upper body and hip movement in a static fighting stance with a basic Juno Jodan Tateken Zuki;  again, with emphasis on the appropriate hip movement ensuring the elbow stayed in line with the fist through the extension and pull back.  The exercise was executed with no Okuri Ashi movement, so the ballistic power came purely from the hip rotation and the arm.  We explored the role of the hip movement when the back hand provided defensive cover to our Sei Chu Sen and when our front hand delivered a follow up Jodan Zuki.

Sensei then instructed in the use and power generated by the hip.  He illustrated this with an exercise in fighting stance when the back foot Okuri Ashi was driven exclusively by a Tsuki (Zuki) hip rotation.  Initially this was done without any arm involvement until eventually it included a full Tsuki movement.

Sensei Stephen Chamberlain then took the class through Pinan Nidan move by move.  Special attention was given to maintaining appropriate Zanshin through the transitional moves.  Emphasis was made to the many changes of direction, to ensure the defensive technique was effective through the turn.

Sensei posed a question to the assembled class on the mechanics of Gedan Harai Uke and how that changes when the body is turning during its execution.  My understanding was that the body executes contra rotation when performing Gedan Nagashi Harai Uke at rest to energise the arm.  But when the body is in motion as with a turn what is the dynamic then?  What is the arresting force in the two cases?

In preparation for pair works Sensei Tim had the class practice the techniques to be employed by Tori against a Chudan Zuki in our lines.  During this preparation stage the initial emphasis was on the defensive Jun no Naiwan Nagashi Uke. Finally, the offensive technique was included that further opened the hip and drove the up-turned fist Jodan in a move reminiscent of Pinan Godan, before the jump.  No emphasis was placed on the defensive Ten-i movement as this is a response to the depth of Uke’s attack and came into the pair work later, but body rotation, Ten-tai and technique, Ten-gi were well illustrated.  Also, the economy of movement (Mudana Ugoki) and absence of any tension or unnecessary power (Mudana Chikara) made Sensei Tim’s demonstration highly effective, composed and compact, not something I was able to reproduce.

We then applied the technique in pairs moving up and down the hall in Gyaku Gamae.  In pairs the efficiency of the technique became clear. Tori’s defence ensured that while disturbing the balance of Uke by redirecting their attack, it maintained contact and therefore some control over Uke’s punching arm and therefore their posture.   Tori’s offensive technique built upon this Kuzushi element with a strike to the face that slid up Uke’s arm (Noru) while deflecting the arm down further compromising Uke’s posture.  As a final illustration of Tori’s dominance, a second move was added to the technique that opened up Uke for a follow up technique. Tori moved inside (Uchi) by moving their punching arm to strike to the face with the back hand.

As is so often the case in Wado Ryu the challenge is in the seamless transitions taking two moves with different objectives and performing them as one.  The old Wado maths problem 1 + 1 = 1.

I was most fortunate to pair with a dear friend and “proper” sized partner, Mark Gillis.  Even though this this meant having his very large fist coming towards my face!

This marked the end of the 3 hour session which, as it turned out, was just a little too short for me and an hour too long for my body.

At the end of the session Sensei thanked everybody for their support throughout the year and emphasised the special bond that we share.  Sensei introduced the term Kizuna 絆 which translates as a bond or relationship between individuals which for me is very real.

Sensei also introduce the Japanese word for person Hito, written as 人 The origin of the kanji is to symbolise our interdependence.  It shows the two elements can only stand together.

After training the festive spirit set in as a party with food had been arranged at Weybridge Cricket Club.

Kevin Perkin.

Report: Shikukai Winter Course 2019.

For the 6th year running we have been honored to host the Shikukai Karate-Do International winter course presided over by our chief instructor F. Sugasawa Sensei 7th Dan.

We at Shikukai Chelmsford (Shouwa Jyuku 翔和塾) have been surprised as to how the popularity of this annual course has grown over the years; even more so when it became recognised as the official Shikukai winter course. Attendance this year increased even more and we have had to plan for larger venues to cope with the numbers.

This year we had students from as far afield as Hungary, Holland, The Czech Republic and Norway, as well as students from Devon and Yorkshire.

In all this was an opportunity for four days training, kicking off with our regular club night on the Thursday. This was taken by Shouwa Jyuku instructor Tim Shaw 7th Dan and assisted by Steve Thain 4th Dan. The class was centred around some very usable, carefully designed continuous paired drills which incorporated Wado’s characteristic body shifting (Tai Sabaki).

Friday evening’s training was orchestrated by Sugasawa Sensei. Sensei started off with training and grading for the children’s class who are based at the Woodham Walter Junior School and instructed by Sue Dodd. He gave them some very useful kata instruction, particularly on Pinan Sandan. The children taking the examination had been well prepared and inevitably succeeded in their grading. They were a credit to themselves and the care and attention taken by their instructors.

In the senior session Sensei based the first part on the use of the elbows; this naturally led on to the correct application of the elbows in Kake Uke, and then on to paired kumite.

After the training a meal had been organised at the pub across the road, who coped really well with such a large group taking over their dining room.

Saturday training was at the Danbury Sports & Social club. The three hour training began with foundation techniques for everyone and then the class was split three ways with training directed by the senior instructors. We were lucky this year as we not only had Sugasawa Sensei overseeing the classes but also Shikukai seniors, Tim Shaw Sensei, Steve Rawson Sensei, Carol Chatterton Sensei, Richard Barham Sensei and Tim Dixon Sensei. The last half of the class was selected kata for each of the grade groups.

Saturday night was a chance for everyone to get together. We took over a town centre restaurant and for some the revelry went on into the early hours of the morning – others took to their beds at a more sensible time.

Report: Shikukai Spring Course Rescue Adventure 2016. (Courtesy of the Dorset Echo).

 

Swimmer in distress at Lulworth pulled to safety by quick-thinking day trippers.

A swimmer was pulled to safety by quick-thinking day trippers after spending almost two hours battling to get back to shore.

The open water swimmer was rescued by a passing boat just outside Lulworth Cove on Sunday after he found himself stranded out at sea, unable to battle through the strong tides.

Stephen Rawson, who runs Shikukai Karate Club in Portland, had chartered the boat from Sirius in Weymouth for the day to visit Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove with six other club members.

Mr Rawson said it was only by chance the boat was in the area as the Lulworth Ranges, military firing ranges, were not active that day.

“The boat driver knew the ranges weren’t shooting that day so that’s the reason we had headed to Lulworth Cove,” Mr Rawson said. “We saw a swimmer with a floatation buoy a couple of hundred metres away. He was waving his arms about and was quite clearly in distress.”

Mr Rawson said the man, who was from Alicante in Spain, was tall, athletic and ‘clearly a good swimmer.’

“He told me he often goes open water swimming in Alicante Bay for two or three hours at a time. He had gone out of the Cove on Sunday and into open water and was swimming fine for about half an hour. But when he turned round to swim back he couldn’t get back to shore.”

Mr Rawson said the man had been battling against the strong tide for almost two hours when the boat found him.

“He didn’t realise we have tides that run along the coast and couldn’t get through it. If we hadn’t been there he would have been a goner. His only option would have been to go with the tide – going further away from potential help. I think he probably would have drowned. There was no one else around. He was very lucky – it could have been a very differnt outcome.”

Mr Rawson commended the driver of the boat, Tim Day, who he said did an excellent job of manoeuvring a potentially dangerous boat close to the swimmer.

Report: Shikukai Autumn Course Spain 2016.

The inaugural Spanish Shikukai Autumn course was held at Albir near Benidorm, Alicante on 9/10/11 October 2016. Most students stayed at the Albir Garden Resort which proved to be an excellent venue with comfy beds, substantial breakfasts, good showers and a great outdoor swimming pool. Students travelled from across the UK, France, Holland and Norway.

A short bus ride took students to the light and airy training venue at Pabellón Municipal Pau Gasol in L’alfas del Pi. Day 1 began with using the bleacher seating as a training aid both for stretching the legs and focussing techniques. Sensei proved he could still outstretch everyone by effortlessly placing his leg on the highest row of seats possible. The first session involved using the spaces between the rows of seats as focus points for techniques. There were several loud clashes when students had not quite perfected this drill! Sensei then moved on to Kata, covering Pinan Nidan in depth, particularly concentrating on the final four moves. The junior grades continued their practice under Sensei’s watchful eye while the seniors went on to practice Chinto Kata.

On Day 2 Sensei again took students through a thorough warm up after which Junzuki and Gyakazuki movements were practiced in pairs using alternating hand techniques. Emphasis was on a relaxed shoulder action throughout the technique and not concentrating on the end result. The importance of correct posture, hand movement and position of the pelvis was stressed in the practice of Seishan Kata. The seniors practiced Seishan in detail while the junior grades worked on the Pinan katas. The session finished with Ji Yu Kumite, the emphasis being on continuous attack and defence movement as opposed to individual scoring techniques (similar to the recent Over-50 years category at the recent Wado Championships in Japan.)

The final day started with continuous techniques around the dojo to loosen up aching muscles and then maintained the emphasis from Day 1 of how to release a technique as opposed to the end result. This was achieved through a variety of drills designed to make students aware of which muscles needed to be fired up. Sensei emphasised the importance of Sogu (skimming action) when performing techniques including Naiwan, Gaiwan and Gedan Harai Uke. The session continued with Kihon Gumite numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 while the juniors practiced Nihon Gumite.

It was not just the superb training, but also the social activities that made this a course to remember. Once training was over for the day students went to the beach, checked out the many local bars and restaurants, swam in the outdoor pool, or simply relaxed on a lounger. Later each evening everyone met up for a social meal, ranging from Thai, to Indian to traditional fare. The most memorable night was at the local seafront Columbus Restaurant which had a nautical theme with excellent food and drink. We were joined by Sensei Bob Flowers from Bristol who happened to be staying nearby. In true “Bob” style we had phone calls with some old karate friends back in the UK. An additional guest at the table was Dave, a local radio presenter and a long time friend of Carol’s, who had made a broadcast earlier in the week promoting the course and referring to Sensei as the Commander in Chief!

At the end of the course Sensei thanked Carol for organising the event and the students for making the effort to attend. Everyone was impressed with the facilities both for accommodation and training and would like to return in the future.

In Memoriam – Chris Mortimer 1989 to 2012. 

It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of regular Shikukai member Chris Mortimer, who died at the age of 23 years at the beginning of November this year.

Many Shikukai seniors and students will have fond memories of Chris. In the short time he was with us it was hard to miss his personal warmth, positive outlook and cheery smile. Always quick to engage in leg pulling and banter he treated all people equally and was unfailingly generous in spirit and deed.

Chris displayed an implacable spirit of adventure and was always willing to go the extra mile, literally; putting himself out to attend courses, competitions and seminars from as close to home as Chippenham and as far afield as Hungary .

He was also willing to walk into anyone’s Dojo and offer himself up for training, no matter how tough and demanding it was. It was through this that he earned the respect and admiration of everyone he came into contact with, and sadly it is only with his passing that we are able to see and acknowledge this aspect of his strength of character and willingness to connect.

I have particular memories of his bounciness and enthusiasm during training, which was tempered by his curiosity and willingness to question what he was doing. It was this balance which singled him out as a youngster with considerable potential. Sadly circumstances contrived to rob us all of this potential and all those he came into contact with have felt a need to acknowledge the loss. But our loss as friends pales in comparison to the loss to his family; for whom we cannot begin to comprehend their feelings and deep grief.

Tim Shaw 13/11/12

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