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Archive for July, 2010


This photo shows the countdown clock to what’s being billed as ‘the biggest free event of the year’, in case you can’t make out the picture, it currently says ’13 days to go’. This is the ‘the tall ships races’, and this year they will be stopping off at Hartlepool, my home town, for 4 days. Our town of 90,000 people is expecting up to a million visitors.


Needless to say that this is a really big deal and the local authority and its partners have been working tirelessly to get the town ready. From developing a brand new transport interchange, to painting double yellow lines on every bit of road they could get there paint brush to. Also, every school in town has had Tall ship themed events to ensure the kids are enthused for the event.

One of the many Tall Ships displays at one of the schools we work at…

Now, you may be wondering what this has got to do with Karate…. Our club, Hartlepool Wadokai will be doing its but for the event, we are the only Martial Arts club in the Hartlepool Sporting Association (HSA) so we’ve been invited to run a karate taster class during the event. With so many people attending the Tall Ships, this has the potential to significantly raise the profile of Karate so we are looking forward to it.

The countdown clock has a double meaning for us too. It’s also a countdown for Amy and I flying out to Japan for the Wado World Cup. The tall ships event runs from 7th August to the 10th and we fly out from Heathrow on 8th… making the next 13 days or so very important.

Fun day…

To the untrained eye, this would just look like a bucket with some sponges in. However, to the trained Karate student from Hartlepool Wadokai, this bucket represents a chance to get Sensei Carl (Me!) with wet sponges whilst he’s trapped in the stocks… image

Being the Elite Karate person I am, I’ve made arrangements for my protection… Unfortunately, I couldn’t secure any of our students to ‘protect my honour’, so instead I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I’d like to introduce you to RENEGADE….!

..tune in tomorrow, to watch how this story unfolds…

The Shiramizu magic…

Amy and I spent a year living in Japan from July 1st 2008 until July 1st 2009. We worked as the shiramizu interns, I ran the English language classes at the dojo and we both taught English for other companies in saitama and Tokyo.

Sensei Takamasa Arakawa is the owner of the dojo and anyone that knows him, or even knows of him will tell you that he is a fantastic wadokai technician and he’s also a genuinely nice guy.

The reason for mentioning the dojo?
at the upcoming Wado World Cup there will be at three former shiramizu interns competing (Louise Fisk – New Zealand & myself and Amy – UK). there is also another WWC competitor from Germany who is currently training at the dojo in preparation for the competition. This shows how special shiramizu is and how highly regarded Arakawa Sensei is internationally.

At the JKF-Wadokai Nationals, Shiramizu will no doubt have a massive club presence alongside fellow Englishman Pete Williams (the current intern). Shiramizu are often asked to do demonstrations at the big Karate events so I’ll have my video camera on standby.

Needless to say that Amy and I, and no doubt Louise will be visiting Shiramizu when we get back to Japan. I’m hoping to get as many of our Wadokai England team there as possible so that they can experience the ‘shiramizu magic’…

Shiramizu Intern ‘Official’ Blog
Shiramizu Intern Website (Japanese)
Arakawa Sensei’ Blog (Japanese)

England ‘rainy’ season

Today we’ve had some truly crazy weather, the Met office even issued a severe weather warning. In the space of a few minutes, a massive amount of heavy rain fell. For those of you who have experienced Japan’s ‘rainy’ season will know exactly what I mean. The town’s drainage pipes etc are just not cut out for som much water so the local roads were turned into rivers. More important than that though, as you can see by the video clip, My vegetable garden took a pounding!

The timing of this downpour couldn’t have been worse, it was between two of our After School Club at Brougham Primary School and our community clubs. My mother and I had just stopped by my home to collect Amy (who’d just finished work), have a quick coffee and then head to the next class. This also meant that a lot of our students were travelling to our class, though thankfully everyone turned up safe and well – if a little bit wet!

Sports personality of the year

Lewis (Centre) with his trophy...

11 year old Lewis was recently awarded the Sports Personality of the Year award for his achievements in karate at St Aidens Primary School in Hartlepool.

Lewis has worked hard for this award and his dedication to karate is inspiring. Just last week he wanted to pull out of his end of year school concert because the performance clashed with training. I’m pleased that his mother didn’t let him!

keep up the good work Lewis….

..let’s talk about the weather

So, my shiny new phone has basically got  ‘Big Brother’ pre-installed, no not the really bad TV program, the secret service!  My phone knows who I am, where I am and what I’m up to… one of the benefits of this is that the phone can tell me what the weather is, where I am, and also where I’m going.

Today’s weather in Hartlepool, my home town has been a scorching 25 degrees celsius, with lows of 16 degrees… Tokyo, where we’ll be in a few weeks has been 33 degrees celsius, with lows of 27!!!

It’s actually hotter there at night than it is here during the day.

Needless to say that i’m probably going to melt when we land in Tokyo…

Hartlepool Wadokai Fun Day

This coming Saturday our club is running its first ever fun day. The day has been organised by Julie Salmons, the club volunteer coordinator and her army of volunteers. We’ve got a lot of things planned including games of rounders, kids vs parents games, and apparently I will also be stuck in some stocks whilst the students throw wet sponges at me…. should be…. interesting!

Hartlepool wadokai kata course

Yesterday our club ran a wado kata course with Sensei Peter May and Sensei Lee Minion at the Belle Vue sports centre in Hartlepool.

This was the first time that we’ve invited both instructors up at the same time so we wanted as many of our students as possible to train with them.

We split the course into three different sessions and students could choose to attend one, two or all three sessions. I think splitting the event like this helped because it fit into other peoples schedule better, this meant that we got 40 people to the course.

the non-camera shy from Session 1

Session 1 was a general  training session, this allowed our younger and low grade students to train. The session covered various types of resistance training as a way of getting your stances right. Then it moved onto sparring. The session was a good warm up for the more experienced, and the younger kids loved every minute of it.

Sensei Minion explaining what not to do during kumite practise

Session 2 was a masterclass in Pinan Godan. This is the first round kata for the August JKF-Wadokai Nationals in Tokyo. A lot of our students also need this kata for their next belt test so this was a logical choice for this session. At the end of the session all the competitors demo’d Pinan Godan and got some more feedback.

The non camera shy from Session 3

In Session 3 we started off with Seishan, this is the compulsory Kata for the Wado World Cup in August. After a short break we moved onto Kushanku, this would be testing everyone’s endurance because at this point we’d all been training for over four hours! Once again, at the end of the session all the competitors heading out to Japan demo’d Kushanku, and once again got some much needed feedback.

I’d like to thank kobukan Darlington, Derby Karate Academy, Teesside, Lincs Aiwakai, and Carlisle for supporting the course.

the non-camera shy from Session 1

Throston After School Club break up

Group shot of some of the kids at their last After School karate class today before breaking up for the summer holidays. We usually have about 20 in the first class, and 7 or 8 in the second but with it being so close to the official school summer break, a lot of kids have already gone on holiday.

The kids at Throston School are great, they range from 5 years up to about 8 and we’ve been teaching the same group of kids since September last year. I think what is really great is that they are all still white belts, and they are still training just as hard as when they first started! How many kids do you know that would be happy staying a white belt for a year? Anyways, we’ll be having belt tests in September ready for the massive influx of new kids to the classes. Good times…

This post was a test to see if i could upload with my phone, and after some tinkering, i’ve figured it out. (all I had to do was ‘tick’ a box at the bottom 🙂

HTC Desire

After a lot of searching the internet, asking friends for advice etc… I’ve finally picked up my shiny new phone. It’s a HTC desire on the Orange phone network. I’m not going to repeat the sales pitch, if your really interested check out the HTC Website.

The phone is really cool, i’ve finally figured out how to work it with my stubby fingers. I’ve downloaded tons of apps which allow me to update all the social networking sites, the Tokyo subway maps, the wordpress app to update this blog, my email…. obviously and some really cool games like sudoku and more importantly – it’s in sync with my google calendar which means that i can remember where we happen to be teaching each day.