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

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.

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