One of our principles as an organisation is to offer our members the opportunity to learn from the very best in an environment free from politics and ego. We are focused on facilitating events for all to enjoy and ‘mix it’ as appropriate. We are passionate that the ‘Applied’ aspect of our karate is authentic. We must be sure that when called upon the skills developed by us and our members can be delivered and utilised under duress. Ultimately, we must be able to do it!
On Saturday the third of August we were extremely proud to host Sensei Iain Abernethy at our South Downs Dojo. Iain is a world-renowned expert on Bunkai Jutsu and somebody whose work I was first introduced to when my Senpai Paul first bought his books and DVD’s back in 2002. Mike Stilgoe from our Bembridge dojo recognised the potential of an AKA course with Sensei and approached him to discuss a seminar with us. After a very successful course we are all grateful that he did. Thank-you Mike.
When discussing our criteria for success the five of us agreed that the course should be directed towards experienced Martial Artists with a minimum of brown-belt or equivalent ability. We focused on over 18’s so that the content could be spiteful if necessary and equally we wanted to ensure that everyone had a fantastic experience on the day by ensuring quality pair-ups. We also wanted Sensei to have the right audience of students keen and willing to learn.
In attendance alongside our AKA members were karate friends from Eastleigh and Epsom as well as Adam and Dan from Total Shotokan who have recently affiliated to Sensei’s BKC group. We also had some local karate-ka from other styles and associations as-well as Jim and Darrell from a Havant based Wing-Chun group. Everyone had good-will and spirit in common.
The theme of the day was prescribed by Iain. As for many it was their first-time training with Sensei the content focused on his system or method for analysing kata and dissecting it into drills for skill acquisition through repetition. It was clear to everyone from the start that Sensei’s understanding and appreciation of the history of karate, it’s kata and the founders and their texts is frankly breath taking.
Being able to reference the history and therefore relate to interpretation and misunderstandings in approach was inspirational. As I looked around the dojo it was clear that everyone was hanging on Iain’s every word.
I took the role of Uke for Sensei’s demonstrations and first-hand felt the speed, experience and control of his dynamic karate. He is also a great communicator and a genuine nice guy. I was then at the mercy of Sensei Keith Williams power in the pair-ups. I also accidentally missed his belt for the groin grab and amusingly became acquainted with his best friend. Sensei Keith and I may work together but perhaps that was a step to far (laughs).
During the class Sensei explained the origin of the term ‘Naha-Te’ referencing the Okinawan art that eventually became known as Goju-Ryu. During our training it was clear that all embraced the training and regardless of style, art or affiliation worked together and grew as a result. Perhaps we were not practicing as Shotokan, Wado or Wing-Chun people. Maybe we were as one, studying Hampshire Hand? The drills and the principles were common and appropriate to all. It was great!
Thanks to all who came and supported this. But most of all thanks to Sensei for his energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and skill. Hopefully we can do this again.