Saturday 4th July 2015 saw the return of Sensei Keith Walker to the club for another excellent Wado Masters course.
Thank you to Sensei for once again coming to Hartlepool, and to those from other clubs who made the journey to support the event. Thank you also to our students who came along to train too.
The course started with full body exercises to get us moving, with a particular emphasis on keeping the hips low and went on to cover the centre line in detail, especially whilst practising basics. This was broken down by taking junzuki-dachi to a neutral position at the half way point, before finishing. The centre being key to the entire movement, and not allowing the punch to drag the body into place, but rather have the hips be the driving force. Body torque was also covered extensively, in particular with gyakuzuki (reverse punch), and neko-ashi-dachi (cat stance), again with an emphasis on the centre line and relaxation.
All the basics were really an exercise in internal relaxation and movement, fundamental to Wado and the difference between being able to deliver maximum force into an opponent with minimal effort and, well, hurting yourself. The basics naturally progressed to Kata where it was actually quite difficult to put our learnings from single movements into a complete Kata – much more practise required.
Image from indigosociety.com
I think a lot of Karate training, in particular the sport side focuses too much on the ‘external’ i.e. what a technique looks like, what silhouette your body makes etc… we tend to train hard on making these shapes and build up strong muscles but are we actually causing more harm? is our typical training overemphasising muscle development over relaxation? causing muscle imbalances and alignment problems? There’s a really interesting graphic on the Internal Power Facebook page which summarises this point perfectly.
Wado should really be about using the centre and being relaxed. Learning how to teach these two elements better to our students is vital, else Wado Karate will simply become another ‘sport’.
This exercise (which I’ve stolen and dubbed ‘Box Kata’) was all about focusing on the movement of the body rather than the shape of the technique. As Sensei explained, when performing a Kata, we are often focussed on the end result, the shape of the technique rather than how the body actually gets from A-B.
We performed a Kata inside a small 3x3m box marked on the floor with belts, the Kata movements could be performed in any direction, rather than sticking to the Kata structure. To keep things interesting, there were 3 students inside the box, all practising at the same time. Unfortunately we weren’t supposed to step on the belts, or strike through our team if they got in the way. It was an interesting lesson in Zanshin (awareness) as well as taking note of the way the body moves.
We progressed to more difficult Kata, and, with an even smaller box marked out, solo Kushanku (quite a long Kata, with multiple dynamic changes of body position and direction).
Sensei gave a Masterclass in Kihon Kumite which I’m not even going to try to explain in detail. He basically showed how the exercises work on the simple premise of working your opponent on the inside or outside with either a gedan, chudan or jodan strike, whilst using the mechanics of the body maximally rather than making pretty shapes, no bells and whistles, but effective.
Another excellent course, and once again I personally learned tons.
We will hopefully be able to get Sensei Keith Walker up to the club again over the next few months, we’ve got a crammed calendar but we’ll see what we can do.