There is always a slight danger in holding an event the morning after the clocks change. Apart from ensuring the alarm goes off when you want it to, there is the risk that someone will simply forget.
So it was no surprise when arriving especially early at the Bierton Dojo to prepare for the Central Region kata course with Sensei Ohta the Sunday morning (after the clocks went back) to find one attendee already parked up waiting. Luckily he was able to use his time to adjust the clock in his car.
Arriving early may have been a sensible thing to do as he knew the event was sold out well before the day.
The idea for a regional course was originally raised at a breakfast meeting with the regional reps at the Arora Hotel (Crawley) last year. Sensei Ohta had offered to give a day of his time to each region for free. It was up to the regional reps to decide how best to use that opportunity.
Following discussions with chief instructors from the Central Region, we decided that we would like to see an all grades course looking at Bunkai (applications) from the Heian Katas. (these are the katas - set patterns - taught to coloured belts)
It was also decided to limit the numbers. This would ensure that all those that attended would receive plenty of individual attention from Sensei. There would be no “hiding at the back” in this event!
The course was held at the Bierton Dojo, part of TSKC run by Sensei Lester Wellington. The plan to limit numbers slightly backfired on Sensei Lester and me. We had a assumed a certain percentage of last minute cancellations, but this didn’t happen. This was in part because we had asked the chief instructors ensure their students would turn up if they booked a space. The chief instructors did a great job! We looked at the students gathered in the dojo and realised that two more training – namely the two of us – would result in the course being crowded. We therefore agreed between us not to take part.
It was a “challenging” mix of students, with a diverse range of age and ability. Ages ranged from 7 to 70, and grades from Orange belt to 5th Dan. That’s quite a mix!
Sensei broke the session down by making the students do at a sequence of moves found in kata, then a combination based on the “opponents” moves, then partnering up to show how they worked as applications in the kata. By doing this, students who did not know the kata were still able to follow the class.
Anyone who has trained with Sensei Ohta will tell you he has an uncanny knack of demonstrating what looks like a simple sequence of techniques. It looks quite straightforward until you try to copy, at which point coordination flies out the window. It is then you realise just how he can make difficult moves look so effortless.
The original plan was to cover the applications for all Heian katas and Tekki Shodan. However it soon became clear that this was a mistake on my part and an underestimation of how much information Sensei had to offer on each kata. Also, Sensei’s enthusiasm for the subject matter was obvious and infectious. It was clear we would not get through all the katas as planned.
As we were not directly involved in the session, we were able to notice just how much everyone there seemed to enjoy the course. There was very much a positive feeling of enjoyment in the dojo, with plenty of smiles, that smile that comes when suddenly something makes sense. Although we didn’t cover all the katas we planned, everyone left with a greater insight into karate.
Thank you to Sensei Ohta for giving his time for free, and a really enjoyable lesson. Thank you to Lester Wellington for his help in the organisation of the event. And thanks to the chief instructors for their support.
Sensei joked at the end of the session that “part two” would be held next time. Two places, for “L. Wellington” and “M. King” have already been reserved, and just in case, we will be waiting in the car park really early.