JKS Spring Technical Seminar Review March 16th-18th, Southall, London
Instructors -Kagawa, Koike, Campbell, Langley
The JKS Technical seminars pack in 10 hours of training over 3 days. I have trained on four of these seminars; this one was probably physically the easiest, but technically the most challenging. The Friday night training was for all students taken by Kagawa and concentrated on his theme of “simple is best”. This class was a reminder of simple practices in Kihon, but introduces body conditioning exercises to augment the technique. For example, using a body weight squat in stepping forward to help develop ankle flexibility and knee strength, or mae geri kekomi to help a standard mae geri.
The Saturday and Sunday was split into a Nidan and above class and Shodan and below class with teaching shared between all the instructors. This was where the course started to become technically challenging, with all instructors working on different aspects of Karate.
Sometimes lessons can become “death by grading syllabus” or “death by gizami tsuki\ gyaku tsuki to get a point”. Karate then becomes very narrow, this course showed both the diversity of techniques and also the depth beneath them. For example, Koike worked on using both hands in age uke, soto uke and gedan berai against a partner doing sanbon tsuki- some of you may think, we do those techniques all the time- they are for beginners. Koike looked at the timing of the preparation of the block, the block itself, using the preparation hand to block, or to smother the opponent. He also emphasised the flowing, continual nature of the drill, not an excessively hard kime that makes you rigid and unable to make the next move.
Kagawa’s freestyle lesson worked on the concept of soft knees, using the front leg to initiate movement on both gizami tsuki and oi tsuki. The attacker had to show no extraneous movements (simple is best again) and have hit his opponent before they saw it coming, easy to say, but difficult to do. Then emphasis switched to the defender, working on using hips to initiate movement to the outside of the attack, against announced attacks, then unannounced. Kagawa demonstrated this with Koike attacking, not only did he block, but he positioned himself so that he could grab and control Koike (a much bigger man of 100kg+).
Kata practice was split into step by step review of key points in brown belt kata and Nijushiho; non syllabus kata- Kibaken and Meikyo Nidan; and applications for Tekki Shodan and Heian Sandan against continuous punches.
Other areas covered included the use of the stretch reflex in both upper and lower body; the need to advance the level of your techniques once the basic form is correct; and more traditional partner strengthening exercises.
It was good to see people from outside the JKS attending this course, some of whom had travelled a long way. As I can only attend a couple of courses each year, I look to take away enough information to inspire me and to educate me; this course had that by the bucketload.
James Marshall March 2007
With thanks to Basil Leeshue for use of his photographs