Tag Archives: funakoshi

Funakoshi Year-end Beach Training Session

Man, I’m really sad to have missed this, thanks to me not being able to be back in GB in time for the event after work.

Last Friday saw the official final training session of 2010 for the junior karateka at the Gordon’s Bay Funakoshi dojo, as they break up for the holiday period.

(Though the adult classes continue on a Monday and Wednesday evening of course!)

Kiba dachi stances in the sand

To change things up and end off on a bang, Sensei Birgitt decided to do something different for a change – an outdoors training session!

And where better to train outdoors in Gordon’s Bay than on our beautiful, pristine main beach?

Needless to say, it looks like it was loads of fun and a great way to close off the official 2010 Funakoshi calendar year for all the junior karateka! Once again, good work Gordon’s Bay Dojo! :)

If you've got to kick something, you may as well kick the sea!

To get more of a feel for how this final training session went down, check out the gallery!

Photo Gallery: Funakoshi Karate Grading (2010-12-04)

I achieved my Purple Belt under the Funakoshi Karate International South Africa style in December, at the grading held at the friendly little Mondeor Eco-School in Somerset West. It was a good grading and I was pleased with my performance, which always makes receiving your belt from your sensei feel that much sweeter! :)

Boland Year-end Development Championship 2010

And over at Funakoshi Karate International South Africa…

On Saturday 6 November, at Scotsdene Sports Hall, Boland Karate held its final senior tournament for 2010, aptly named the Boland Development Championship. A number of styles and dojos were invited to compete, including the Spartans who came all the way down from Ceres in a sizeable number in order to partake in this final bit of friendly rivalry.

Head of Boland Karate, Sensei Elias Jacobs was there to oversee the tournament, while under the firm thumb of tournament director Sensei Birgitt Smit, Scotsdene Hall was transformed into a proper battle arena, complete with two matted fighting squares and one marked out kata area.

Unfortunately support from the general public was pretty slim, but thankfully there were enough friends, family and karateka to fill the stands and after an official march in and introduction from Elias, the final tournament for the year got under way.

This was the first tournament in which veterans were allowed to partake, effectively lifting the age limit off the combatants and opening up a number of new categories to soak up. Proceedings kicked off with a unison kata with bunkai from Funakoshi Karate International South Africa, with kata Kigai being performed by Chris Mourdik, Gerhard Roos and Craig Lotter.

From there the teams were put through their paces, going through the various age and weight divisions, for both kata and sports kumite. There were a number of members of the South African Proteas team in attendance and we got to marvel at their display of high level skill in both the form and fighting sections.

The tournament itself was a great success and Funakoshi Karate International South Africa enjoyed some further representation in the kumite sections thanks to the efforts of both Jens Smit and Jason.

Tournament proceedings were finally ended off with some brilliant unison kata with bunkai displays from six different teams, with the senior men’s Protea team in particular wowing everyone with their precise and very sharp movements!

Finally, a successful (if somewhat short) day was rounded off with the official Boland year-end prize giving, in which both karateka and administrative staff alike, were rewarded for their commitment and achievements in the realm of Boland karate for 2010.

In other words, the Boland karate calendar year closed off on the perfect note! Osu.

(For more photos, visit the Funakoshi Karate International South Africa website!)

Photo Gallery: Boland Karate Year-end Tournament (2010-11-06)

On Saturday 6 November, at Scotsdene Sports Hall, Boland Karate held its final senior tournament for 2010, aptly named the Boland Development Championship. A number of styles and dojos were invited to compete, including the Spartans who came all the way down from Ceres in a sizeable number in order to partake in this final bit of friendly rivalry.

Proceedings kicked off with a unison kata with bunkai from Funakoshi Karate International South Africa, with kata Kigai being performed by Chris Mourdik, Gerhard Roos and Craig Lotter.

Kumite Training with Sensei Kai

Last Saturday saw the first of two special kumite training classes with German Sensei Kai Ellenberger and Marius Bouwer, held in the Gordon’s Bay Primary School hall.

Although the class was fairly well attended, it was disappointing to see how many of the senior belts didn’t attend this special fighting class, but nevertheless, this would prove to be their loss as the class was as exciting and as insightful as you could possibly have hoped for.

Building on sensei Kai’s previous comments about tension and relaxation and how important it is to learn when to be relaxed and when to tense and explode outwards, we ran through a number of partner drills, before moving on to the main crux for the morning’s training session – learning how to destroy your opponent’s technique either by destroying the technique itself, or by destroying your opponent’s distance.

Training was intense and the German sensei continued to drill home the point of how one’s karate needs to be effective and thus must be trained properly – in other words with real force, both from the attacking and defending partners.

As for myself, I learned first hand what a sledgehammer of a punch sensei Marius possesses, as he strove to impart upon us the importance of keeping one’s back heel down when taking a punch. (A point. With my back heel firmly planted, the sensei couldn’t move me with his punch. With the heel raised however, he managed to push my 130kg frame back a good metre and a half with a single punch!)

By the end of the session, there were probably a lot of bruisings and swollen limbs going on, but the spirit was high and the lesson ended with the fighting level of everyone who attended now just that one notch higher.

In other words, for those karateka who chose to skip sensei Kai’s class, you definitely missed out on an golden opportunity to improve your skills. Never fear though, there is still one final kumite session to look forward to, and I can ensure you that this one will be even tougher than the last!

Osu.

The Official Opening of Gashuku 2010

The evening of Friday 15 October marked the official start of Funakoshi Karate International South Africa Gashuku 2010, even though technically the event was already three days into its 15 day duration.

Kicking off just after 19:00 at perennial Gordon’s Bay dance floor favorite, The Barn, the amazing ladies from Tamashii-Daiko attempted to blow the venue’s roof off with their powerful Taiko, or traditional Japanese drumming to you and me. As per usual they were flashy, controlled and skilled, under the guidance of leader Ursula Coenen. Since we last encountered them, their little group has more than doubled its numbers and they put together a fantastic display of this drumming martial art.

From there it was the turn of the Gordon’s Bay dojo to put on its show, which included a mass performing of Kata Impi to music (We will Rock You), combined with some more orchestrated movements that resulted in the forming of a giant circle around the dance floor. For this particular demonstration, the lights were switched off and the neons came on, resulting a brilliant visual affect as all the white gi’s glowed brightly under the purple light! (Note to self. Doing this after putting on a literally brand new out of the bag gi will result in you glowing the absolute brightest and running the risk of blinding everyone beside you!)

We then had some further demonstrations that included a unison kata from Anke, Dean and Wickus (to the sound of a funked up Chariots of Fire track), a solo Kata from Sanette, a fun little display from the tiny kids that make up the Samurai group, complete in their silky black uniforms, and then an en masse mock fighting sequence to good old Kung Fu Fighting, ending off with a mock finishing blow from one of the little Samurai pipsqueaks to each and every one of us on the dance floor.

An hilarious affair indeed!

Sensei Marius and Sensei Kai weren’t going to disappoint either, asking their German students to perform some unison katas for us, before they themselves revealed the latest, brand new kata that is entering the Funakoshi syllabus, the first time anyone in South Africa has ever seen it!

As an added bonus, Sensei Jonathan’s sister Kaylie put on a contemporary dancing routine (which she was asked to repeat because the neons didn’t pick out her costume as she had originally hoped the first time around), and even the girls from Temperance Town put on a little dance for the rest of us.

The demonstrations now done, the all important handing out of the official Gashuku t-shirts took place, hand delivered by our own little Ms and Mrs Funakoshi pageant winners, all dressed in their pageant winning wear.

By this stage the drink and food were beginning to flow freely, conversation levels were leaning towards deafening, and it wasn’t long until all the official details were wrapped up and the Barn was transformed back to its usual form – a dance floor catering to both sokkie and contemporary dance music lovers.

In other words, karateka party time! :)

Gashuku 2010 Update: Senior Training Sessions with Sensei Marius and Sensei Kai

Currently we are slap bang in the middle of Funakoshi Karate International South Africa’s official 2010 Gashuku, though truth be told it is not quite in its usual format.

We are extremely grateful to Sensei Marius Bouwer, Sensei Kai and the rest of the Funakoshi Karate International Germany karateka that made the long trip down from Germany, not to mention the added bonus of the arrival of Sensei Geert from Funakoshi Karate International Belgium and Sensei Dusty who hails from Durban.

For this particular update though I want to deliver a quick update on what has so far been an absolutely exhilarating training experience under Sensei Marius and Kai for the senior evening training sessions, held on a Tuesday and Thursday evening at the Charles Morkel club in Strand.

For the first training session (despite having just come off a 23 hour journey without any rest), Sensei Marius and Kai took a large contingent of senior belts (of which I was lucky to be a part of despite my lower belt status) through an invaluable hour and a half session which taught us the importance of the correct tension, when to properly release it and also on how to control one’s level of relaxation in movement until that split second when your body needs to explode out its potential power.

Shimsome, Funakoshi’s first kata was the learning tool used for the evening and even this very first, most basic of the katas proved that it still had a lot to teach a person, and under the watchful eye of the Germans we trained, we learned and we improved.

The second training session was a two hour class in which the second kata, Kagame took centre stage, as Sensei Marius and Kai quickly took us through it just to remind us how it looks and then knuckled down to business as we spent the next hour and a half or so, step by step taking in and practising the bunkai (application) of the kata, an invaluable lesson in teaching us why the movements of the kata are arranged as they are and what they actually mean.

This intense training is sure to have generated a lot of bruises and welts in the process, but it was a deeply satisfying lesson in teaching us Kagami and the way it ought to be delivered, and more importantly, reminding us of how powerful our karate should be.

All in all, the first two senior training sessions under Sensei Marius and Kai have been an absolute pleasure and a fantastic learning opportunity to take part in, and without a doubt, this particular Gashuku 2010 is only going to leave Funakoshi Karate International South Africa as a much stronger style than what it currently is!

Osu.

Funakoshi Blue Belt Status Achieved!

Last Friday has come and gone and apart from the joyous occasion of seeing my child blob in its full black and white ultrasound glory, the other highlight to come out of the day was my successful grading for blue belt under the Funakoshi style.

Lack of a hired venue meant that come Friday evening, I stepped onto the dojo floor (albeit a dojo lined with chairs along either side and headed off by a judging table), dressed in my dogi, a little stiff and sore from a week’s worth of weights training, but absolutely ready for what was about to come.

The new increased length of grading sessions thanks to the increased syllabus items required to be preformed in order to gain a pass meant that the day had to be staggered and when the first batch of seniors’ chance finally arrived, I found myself standing next to buddies Ian (green belt) and Gerhard (blue belt), ready to address Sensei Birgitt and the rest of the Black Belt judging panel and hopefully advance to the next level in our martial arts journey.

As luck would have it, there was nowhere to hide as I was called up first, and unfortunately for me, I didn’t exactly get off to the greatest of starts, completely unable to hold my balance during my four-way kicking demonstration. Thankfully though I could recover my composure and went on to give a pretty okay Grading Form 4A and Grading Form 4B (Ren-geri) performance, before going on to deliver a pretty good (apart from one small annoying misstep when I lost concentration for a split second) Kata 4.

At this stage my stamina was already beginning to give a little and I was breathing like a runaway ox, but I transitioned well into the Kamae Katas and moving basics, performing all three movement sets to great effect.

With the final pre-set parts of my grading behind me, I was beckoned to step off the stage and then sat down to watch Ian tackle his routine, before being called back up again where I squared off against Ian and we put together a great example of moving, choreographed kumite set.

As we stepped off, Gerhard stepped up, and worked his way through his slightly longer grading sequence, before I was again called up to partner up with him for his kumite set.

And that was that. The judges broke into a huddle to confer, we stepped forward, and with applause from all, received our passing certificates – plus that all important new stamp in our Funakoshi Karate International record book!

So now I’m a blue – and proud of it! Osu! :)

Coming Up, From Green to Blue

Eish, I didn’t realise that my next grading is literally lurking around the corner. This time around I’ll be pushing for my blue belt under the Funakoshi style and by the sounds of it, the amount of people grading out of my class appears to be pretty small – so I’m quite motivated to do as well as possible come the big day.

One teensy hassle though. The new expanded syllabus under Edwin Ward means a new expanded grading, and according to the list handed out by sensei Birgitt at training, this means that on the night I have to solo tackle four way kicking (mae-geri keage/yoko-geri keage), grading form F4A (yoko-geri keage), grading form F4B (ren-geri), kata 4, kamae kata 1, kamae kata 2 and finally kihon sanbon zuki which is bascially three step moving basics focussing on uchi-uke/gyaku zuki and soto-uke/gyaku zuki.

Phew, talk about a truck load of solo work I need to know and perform on the night, all on my lonesome and with no one to crib off should my mind do its usual wandering off trick! As it stands, I’m not entirely sure that I am in fact ready on about half of the things needed to grade on, so I’m pretty much going to have to roll up my sleeves and put in some extra practice whenever I can in these last upcoming days.

One thing is for sure though, I really, really want to move up to the next step – still got a long way to go before I finally reach a more respectable belt colour! :P

So, come Friday evening, 4th of June 2010, you know where you’ll find me – sweating in the middle of the practice hall, showing off my skills and hoping to crack the nod from the black belt instructors.

Can’t wait! :)

Basic Japanese Karate Terminology

As karate originated from Okinawa, Japan, many styles across the world seek to maintain this inherent heritage by continuing to teach karate using the original Japanese names for the various techniques being taught.

Secondly, as karate now finds itself very much an international phenomenon, training with Japanese terminology is proving invaluable in allowing for people from different nationalities and cultures to train with one another, without suffering from any major translation problems.

It is thus a good idea that you as a karateka learn this basic terminology in order to better understand what is going on in your classes.

Basic Technique Terminology

  • age-uke — rising block
  • ashi-barai — ankle sweep
  • empi — elbow
  • empi-uchi — elbow strike
  • chudan — stomach level
  • gedan-barai — downward block
  • gyaku-zuki — reverse punch
  • hajime — Begin!
  • hiraken — fore-knuckle fist
  • ippon — one point
  • jiju-ippon-kumite – semi free one-blow sparring
  • jodan — face level
  • kata — forms
  • kiba-dachi — straddle-leg stance
  • kime — focus
  • kokutsu-datchi – back stance
  • kamae — fighting stance
  • kumite — sparring
  • mae-geri – front kick
  • mae-geri-keage – front snap kick
  • mae-geri-kekomi — front thrust kick
  • mae-tobi-geri — flying front kick
  • mawashi-geri — roundhouse kick
  • mawashi-zuki — roundhouse punch
  • mawate — Turn!
  • makiwara — punching board
  • oi-zuki – lunge punch
  • riken — back fist
  • shuto — knife hand
  • uchi-uke – inside forearm block
  • ude-uke — outside forearm block
  • ushiro-geri – back kick
  • ushiro-geri-keage — back snap kick
  • ushiro-geri-kekomi — back thrust kick
  • uraken-uchi — back fist strike
  • yame — Stop!
  • yoi — Ready!
  • yoko-geri — side kick
  • yoko-geri-keage — side snap kick
  • yoko-geri-kekomi — side thrust kick
  • yoko-tobi-geri — flying side thrust kick