Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January Wadokai Camp

This past January 19th and 20th was the third Wadokai Camp, the second being back in September, which I also attended. This time around, however, the camp was split into a kid's and adult's camp, the kid's camp occurring a week earlier.

The camp took place at the Tokyo Nogyo Daigaku (Tokyo Agricultural University) in the south eastern part of Tokyo. It was a 15 minute walk from the nearest train station (Kyodo Station) through rows of quaint houses. Then, almost out of nowhere, the university appears and, though I had to ask a few people along the way, I made it to the dojo just before the 10am start of the camp.

The dojo in a rare moment of quiet.

There were about 30 or so people attending the camp, mainly from different university karate teams. The vast majority were also signed up for the kumite part of the camp, taking place on the matted area as seen in the picture above. Including myself, 6 people were in the kata section.

The camp started a bit after 10am with introductions and some opening comments. I couldn't follow much of it, but they did talk about Vancouver and the World Wadokai Championships to take place there. I can only imagine that it was about being prepared for it.

Afterwards, we went through various kihon exercises led by Toshiaki Maeda Sensei. It ran the gamut of ido kihon, tsuki and uke combinations, kumite drills, and kicks..... lots of kicks. After an hour, we broke off into the kata or kumite portion that we signed up for. In the kata section, we did a bit more ido kihon with Tadashi Miyauchi Sensei as well as going through some basics about relaxing after executing a technique and fixing our naihanchi and seishan stances. As it turned out, all but two people in the group were also at in the kata group at the camp in September, so it was nice to see some familiar faces.

Twelve o'clock was lunch, were most people gravitated to the small squares of sunlight to try and stay warm. The coldness of the dojo meant it was a bit of a struggle to stay warm and limber. Sensing this, we did a second warm up after lunch which was mostly kumite drills.

Around 2pm, we went back to our groups and Koji Okamachi Sensei joined us and, for the next hour, we went through all the intricacies of Niseishi and much discussion ensued about things like hand positions and applications. Towards the end, we finished off with more kihon focused on generating power and then relaxing the body. We particularly spent quite a bit of time in naihanchi dachi, firing a chudan tsuki then letting it drop, like dead weight, to the side of our body.

The camp, though scheduled to end at 5, actually ended at around 4pm. I didn't attend the second day as it was focused entirely on kumite and doubled as a referee's exam. But one day was a lot as well, and it was a great chance to spend lots of time fleshing out the details of a kata and building a sense of how power and relaxation play off each other. It helped too that I quite like niseishi.

I was told the next camp will be held mid-March in Nagoya and will have lots of members of the Japanese Wadokai National Team there, no doubt training for August. I'm not sure if I'm able to go but it will definitely be interesting.

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