I had a whole new karate experience at the weekend. My first ever karate seminar.
I have to say I was a little nervous about it, definitely some nervous butterflies about the whole process - mostly I think because I wasn't sure what to expect. Plus, there was talk of video playback......which I'm quite certain can never be a good thing!
10 members of our club (8 students ranging from yellow to brown belt, plus Shihan and one of our Sensei's) trouped over to a fellow TKGB school in Runcorn (Juurai Martial Arts) for the seminar on Sunday afternoon.
Despite my nerves it turned out to be a really enjoyable experience. The seminar was based on Bunkai for 2 kata.
Juurai's Senior Instructor (Andy Wilkinson) took the first half of the seminar. He taught us the Niseishi kata (which Sue has talked fluently (as always) about over here). The version we were taught was similar to the Shukokai version (although Andy did talk us through and demonstrate some of the Shotokan version (called Nijushiho) to illustrate the differences.
I quite surprised myself by how quickly I was able to pick up the pattern - Sensei Andy was really good at explaining each section, breaking it down in to managable chucks and building on the bits you'd already learnt. We applied the bunkai to various sections as we were going along (which really helped with the understanding of what we were doing in the kata). It always seems pointless to me to just do kata without knowing what you're supposed to be doing. Kind of like trying to put up flat pack furniture without reading the instructions! LOL.
We did mix up partners for the Bunkai exercises but unfortunatley very few of the Juurai students were able to make the seminar (due to sickness and injury) so we were pretty much mixing with ourselves (something we do in class anyway). It would have been nice to have been able to work with more students from another school I think (always interesting to see how other people do things) but alas we out-numbered them about 5 to 1 so it wasn't to be.
After we'd run through the whole of the kata a couple of times and examined the Bunkai for the various sections the higher grades ran through it a couple of times in a multiple attacker form which was good to see. Then we watched the video playback - ugh! Just horrible. I hated seeing myself. I'm probably my own worse critic (sitting there thinking -eek - that block was sloppy, that stance was rubbish....and yes, my bum does look big in that! LOL). I know they say the camera adds 10lbs - there must have been about 5 pointing at me! :P. If nothing else, I've definitely come to the conclusion that a new Gi is justified. I've lost over 2 stone in weight since I started karate last year and bought my Gi and it absolutely swamps me. It looks like theres about 3 times more material than necessary! There's comfortable - then just plain ridiculous! I think I'll have to ask Father Christmas nicely to bring me a new one. Maybe one of these, with my name embroidered on........... I think I might have earned it this year!
Anyhoo, I digress! The video playback was both excruiating, and informative. Once we'd watched through the video of the Niseishi section and had a spot of lunch we got started on the second half of the seminar.
Shihan Dave took us through Kata Saifa. This couldn't have been more perfect for me as it's the Kata I'm currently working on for my red belt. I know the pattern for this kata, I know the moves for this kata but I'm still working on tweaking it to get it just right (you know all those little bits that you need to work on....how to transition from this stance to this stance, which arm position there). Going through the kata step by step with some people who didn't know it was really, really useful -as was the bunkai (back to those flat pack instructions again). What was particular interesting was that Shihan looked at the kata in terms of ground work application (always a recipe for some good fun!). We dragged out the training mats and worked some drops and take downs (one in-one out so Shihan could keep a close eye on some of the lower kyu and the Juurai guys who don't do a lot (if any) ground work in their training). Unfortunatley we were a little pushed for time for the second half as we needed to be out of the hall so we had to rush through the last parts of the kata a little and zap through some of the video playback for that section pretty quick (personally I think all video playback should be video in Fast Forward - it hides a multitude of errors! LOL).
All in all it was a really interesting experience. Something I'd definitely do again (and probably be a little less nervous about next time). Shihan has a number of seminars lined up for next year at our club (including some weapons ones which I'm really looking forward to). I still can't believe that I'm doing this kind of stuff. Shihan asked me in the car on the way home did I ever imagine I'd be this interested in karate.....er NO! If someone had suggested this time last year that I'd be a blue belt and attending Karate seminars I probably would have burst something from laughing. If they'd have suggested I would a) spend my Friday night at home watching THIS (subtitled martial arts movie) and b) actually enjoying it, you probably would have needed a stretcher to carry me out of there! It's strange the directions life takes you when you're least expecting it!
Its back to karate business as usual tonight with Sempai-ing for the kids class and training afterwards. Hopefully my Saifa will have improved some with the extra knowledge and practice from yesterday. I'm hoping we get to work some Taisabaki again this week too. I must have block and countered those 12 strikes a million times in my head this week! I know what I need to remember:
1. Work the angles
2. Don't be so Linear
3. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!
Okay, that's probably the same thing three times but it's that important (and it worked for Tony Blair....almost ;)).
That's it till tomorrow post-training debriefing.