Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wadokai Technical Seminar: 24-25 July

Peter Here:

Over 70 Wadokai dan grades and instructors attended the Wadokai Technical Seminar on the weekend of 24-25 July, held in the Chiba District of Tokyo. The purpose of the seminar was to maintain the high standard of Wado being taught by those present, and to introduce any changes to the kata or kihon kumite syllabus. The weekend was led by members of the Technical committee, chiefly Takagi Sensei and Hakoishi Sensei.

We were also lucky to have Aina Kobinata (JKFan Deputy Editor) on site as well to run a report on the day for the magazine, and of course talk to Fabian and myself in near-perfect English!

Saturday was a long day, with the course running from 9:00 to 16:00. Unfortunately due to ridiculous traffic Arakawa Sensei, Fabian Sensei and myself arrived at about 9:30, but thankfully the group had only just finished the warm up and were working on the kihon essentials of Juntsuki-no-tsukkomi / Gyakutsuki-no-tsukkomi. Because this was a technical seminar it was a much slower pace to the very driven style of Shirmamizu; the Sensei stop and discuss the movement, the principles behind the movement and show some (sometimes quite funny) examples.

Indeed, the attitude throughout the day was that of thorough analysis and explanation, with only a little emphasis on high performance. That said, as the day was a sweltering 36 degrees, any physical exertion that we did soon took it's toll!

After Kihon, several Kata were analysed: Pinan Godan, Chinto, Seishan, and Naihanchi (Kushanku, Rohai and Jitte were tackled on the Sunday), with bunkai given.

Fabian Sensei and I were noticed, and rather charmingly Hakoishi Sensei started to use English and German in his explanations (even to Arakawa Sensei, who had to remind him that he was Japanese, much to everyone's amusement!).

Regular liquid breaks were taken to help combat the searing heat, which kept everyone on a high morale level. What really impressed me however, is just how happy Hakoishi Sensei is at practising his karate. After so many years of training, he's still playing with it like a new toy. This enthusiasm is definitely infectious!

After the lunch break Kihon Kumite was addressed, running through 1-4 on Saturday and 5-10 on Sunday. The higher Dan grades were lined up as the lower Dan grades (everyone here was at least a shodan, quite possibly I was the youngest and lowest rank there) took turns to practice with them. Each Sensei had a different piece of advice to give and a different way of looking at and correcting my performances, so to get the most out of this session I trained with as many Sensei as possible!

Saturday's session finished at 4:00. There wasn't much time for speaking at the end as Arakawa Sensei had to get back for the evening session (he had thankfully given Fabian Sensei and I the evening off), and then head out for a meal. The reason? It was Arakawa Sensei's Birthday! All of that training on such a day just shows how dedicated he is to karate. Food, laughs and some beers were had (though not too much beer, we were training the next day after all).

Sunday was just as hot as Saturday, so we were thankful for training in just the morning (the afternoon was a dan grading). Kata was first, and unfortunately it was Kushanku first- unfortunately because it's very much my worst kata and it became victim to the scrutiny of the top Wado Practitioners of Japan. Oh my.

We ran through the other Kata, all of which were new to me. Thankfully all the other Sensei were aware of this and helped me through with both basic movements and the more essential details. I would've loved to have spent more time on the kata, but I appreciate it wasn't the time for learning.

Kihon Kumite 5-10 was also done a bit faster than I would have liked, but as we had to finish by 12pm the schedule was tight already. However this does not stop this weekend being an invaluable seminar that has helped improve my understanding of Kata and Kihon Kumite to no end, and maybe I have found a new favourite kata in Jitte!

After the Seminar: mini-post

As it was such a beautiful day, Arakawa Sensei thought it would be a shame to waste it- so he took Fabian Sensei and me to the Umihotaru on the Tokyo Aqua Line. Wikipedia can say much more about it than I can on this page, but the line itself is a very impressive structural achievement.

We all took this opportunity to put our feet up- of course, being karateka we took this a little literally...

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