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The day started quite early, in that we all met up at the club dojo for seven thirty in the morning for us all to arrive at the Whitchurch training centre for ten o’clock that morning.
Naz, was our nominated driver for the day, where myself and John were passengers as we made good progress to the Brown and Black belt course, which was being run by Mr Kato IJKA World Chief Instructor 9th Dan.
Believe it or not, during the past two and a half years since returning to Karate, I have not trained anywhere else other than at my local dojo, however as several of us are getting nervously close to Shodan examination, I felt that it was good for my development to experience Karate in other areas and at different levels.
Naz managed to navigate us all safely through thick fog, where John wanted to stop off for a breakfast at local truck stop, prior to the course.
John had a full breakfast and on the basis that I had eaten cereal before leaving, I was convinced by Naz to embark on some toast and several pallet burning cups of milky coffee.
Refreshments finished, we headed off to the training centre for the course.
On arrival, we met up with our club Chief Instructor Ron Bellwood IJKA 7th Dan, and very friendly Karateka who I had never met before, although several had travelled over from foreign countries, such as Scotland and even Holland.
This was a course of truly international standard, which made me a little nervous about my own ability. Was I going to embarrass myself in front of all these experienced and high level Karateka? I had to wait and see.
I had brought two Gi’s with me that day, where I decided to put on the newer of the two, as my favourite Gi is now very worn out in places and looks a bit tatty.
In my book, image is everything, where if you look right, you generally are looking good!!!
Anyway, we began warming up in the dojo as other students began to arrive, where I concentrated on my normal routine of hamstrings stretches and hip flexibility.
The official warm up began a short while later, with Milana going through joint warm ups, such ankles, feet, knees, arms shoulders, hips and head, before Mr Kato took over for that morning’s session.
The training consisted mainly of softness when striking, which gives you immense speed within a technique, but focusing at the point of impact with strength, which Mr Kato described as “impact power”.
This is something that I have personally been working on, in order to gain relaxed speed when punching or striking, to become more efficient and even more so effective.
This was then coupled with one step routines of moving sideways, backwards and forwards, each time performing a strike. The combinations were changed to allow different techniques to be used, by utilising open and closed hips to further enhance power.
This was then coupled with Mae-geri kicks from the front and back legs, with all manner of upper body techniques, to build on what we had already learnt.
The session finished with a quick shower and a very short drive to Mr Kato’s home address in a lovely rural area for a large helping of Curry.
I am glad that I decided not to go for the “The Belly Buster” breakfast earlier!
Pictured left to right: Kev, Sensei's Ron and John and Naz in their post curry pose at Mr Kato's home.
Back at the dojo, I slipped into my other Gi, which was dry and clean, ready for the second session.
One of the senior instructors from Scotland, took the course that afternoon, which concentrated mainly on Mae Geri and Mawashi Geri kicks.
This was then further developed into line training using pads, where the emphasis was based on speed and stability to execute very quick kicks in succession.
The first being a right back leg Mae geri (Chudan) from front stance and ultimately this was followed by a front leg Mawashi geri (Jodan).
Sensei Bellwood described this recently at a club session, as being squad type training, where he has never witnessed a course with so many kicks in it!
I am quite flexilble and felt that I was quite competent at executing that afternoons kicks and felt pleased with my overall performance.
After a brief 30 minutes of attempting a Kata I had never heard of and still for the life of me cannot remember what it is called, it was back in the shower and then back off to Blackpool.
What was my overall thoughts on the course.
Well, it was worth going to experience other Karateka and their teaching and to train in a different environment to my home dojo.
Did I feel out of depth? The answer has to be no, as everyone was learning from the best in Karate circles and finding something that taxed them, which was either physical, mental or even both.
Did I embarrass myself? Again this is no, which illustrates exactly what Blackpool and Wyre IJKA is all about as the club is tough on standards, which places our club very highly with the best.
Would I go again, the answer is confident yes, without a doubt.