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!
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! :)
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!
Pleasingly, after the great debacle of the splitting of my one and only karate gi pants at the worst possible financial moment, I’ve managed to secure a replacement gi in a pretty short space of time – and at an absolute bargain price to boot!
Although I pushed my ripped pants into one or two more practices at the cost of my dignity, the fact of the matter was that it was beyond repair and was now showing off far too much of my tighty whiteys to be of any further use.
Now of course securing karate supplies in Gordon’s Bay is not a particularly easy task and so I didn’t have too much choice outside of the usual suspects of Sportsman Warehouse and Mr Price Sport down at Somerset Mall.
My first stop was Sportsman Warehouse, where unfortunately the biggest size they had in stock happened to be a 5 (Karate gi’s have a horrible sizing system in case you’re wondering. Nothing standard here I’m afraid). Although desperate and keen to give it a try, the fact of the matter was that I couldn’t pull the pants up beyond the middle of my thighs, and so with a big sad sigh, I abandoned the snug looking 5 and left, dejected.
Mr Price Sport was next, and the initial look wasn’t great. Lots of kids’ gi’s ranging from sizes 000 to 3, so no luck there. However, my eye then spotted some packaging sticking out from under the shelves. Grabbing at them, rather hopefully I’ll admit, I was thrilled to the core when out came two packets bearing a a great big 7 on them.
Ah ha, success!
Well more or less. Size 6 is what I’m actually looking for but at this point I’ll take what I can get. A quick trip to the dressing rom confirmed that I technically swim in these oversized gi’s, but nothing a trip to mom and her sewing equipment can’t fix I’m sure!
But that wasn’t the best part of my find. Oh no. The best part was by far the price on what is rather obviously old stock which the store simply can’t get rid of. At the top of a multitude of price stickers, one over the other, sat a bright orange sticker exclaiming its price to the world – R59!
R59 for a suit that usually costs between R300 and R400? Damn it, I’ll take 2 please!! :)
(Which I did by the way. And yes, I do look a little funny in these oversized threads! :P)
I seem to be making a habit of this you know. Splitting gi’s (or dogis if you prefer) that is.
The latest ripped white training pants to add itself to my notorious list of shredded pants, joined the ranks at Monday night’s training session, where Gerhard and myself were going through the steps for Shisome, the newly renamed first kata under the Funakoshi International style, under the watchful eye of sensei Birgitt.
As I spun around from a nice and relaxed kamae stance into a more bowlegged back stance towards the end of the kata, there was the usual loud ripping noise I’ve become rather accustomed to, prompting an exclamation from sensei as to whose poor knees were giving out now. Shamefully I replied that for a change it wasn’t a body part disagreeing with the sudden movement, but rather my trusty old pants who had now had enough of the incessant abuse I dish out to it every Monday and Wednesday evening.
Come to think of it, it had tried to commit seppuku once before, but my mom jumped to the rescue with needle and thread. This time however there is no saving it, as it has now well and truly committed ritual suicide. (Though it will have to do for tonight’s training over a very white underpants until I can get to the shops on Saturday to try and find a replacement!)
Sigh, me and my ripped pants.
It’s becoming a signature thing I tell you! ;)
Had a good weekend this weekend, a more stay at home one than last weekend of course, but a good one nevertheless. Things kicked off with a rather poor movie choice for Friday evening’s entertainment, with Chantelle and myself opting to catch the newly released Step Up 3, a movie franchise which had proved to be quite entertaining in its first two iterations. However, the same can’t be said about the third, featuring a horribly cliched story, weak acting, poor pacing and really just not much in terms of cinema quality. Of course, the dance choreography was brilliant as always, but that’s pretty much that – and I dare you to try and not laugh the ridiculous restroom ‘attack’ sequence! :)
Of course with Chantelle being back on work duty with Louise and Whammy off to Thailand for another holiday, I was left to my own devices for Saturday and so after a bit of admin work like paying off our Boardman’s account, trading in a couple of games and buying a second XBOX controller to get Chantelle to play Blur with me at home, I popped in at the Strand Municipal Hall to catch some of the karate on display at the 2010 Boland Development Tournament. By the looks of things the tournament was well supported, with a lot of little ones partaking as well as the Boland junior team that will be heading off to P.E. in two weeks time for the national competition.
From there it was off to Bellville (Ryan’s pad to be exact), where we had moved our long overdue XBOX gaming session in the hopes to attract more friends to join us – as it turned out, this didn’t happen and so in the end if was just the three usual suspects as Terrance, Ryan and myself found ourselves battling it out fiercely on the brilliant arcade racing title, Blur, peppered with some FIFA soccer battles just for a change of pace.
The original late lunch braai plan was replaced with pizzas from Scooters across the road and our evening entertainment turned into a proper animated film fest as we managed to watch both the slightly disappointing Planet Hulk together with the awesome Batman: Under the Red Hood all in one sitting – without falling asleep for a change! A couple more games of Blur rounded off what had been a pleasant 8 or 9 hours of guy geekery, and I found myself once more on the N2, heading home and trying to remember that I was now in the real world and should now NOT be attempting to race past ever car I deemed competing with me on the road! :)
Sunday was a change of gear and I found myself listlessly doing some household chores, watching some more of the enjoyable High School of the Dead anime and finally getting some more [Prototype] game time in, before I was summoned out of my shell and called to meet up at the guest house where we were joined by the rest of the returned Montgomery clan and I got to show off my superior braaing skills yet again. The hours slowly passed with plenty of story telling to take in, before we were eventually joined by Retha, Miguel and Helena who popped in after being out in the area, meaning that for pudding and coffee we were pretty much a full house of laughs and gigles!
And that was pretty much that. Back home we rounded things off with some awesome Blur battles between Chantelle and myself (man does she get annoyed when the races don’t go her way!), before I hit the keyboard for some much needed blogging and she got catch up on all the latest Idols developments!
Whew, done. So all in all, a pretty damn good weekend off after all if you ask me! ;)
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! :)
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! :)
So as all we South Africans know, Tuesday was a grand old public holiday, Freedom Day if you’re counting. Now judging by the traffic pattern on Monday, it’s pretty clear that a lot of my fellow Capetonians decided to take Monday off and enjoy an extended long weekend – something I with my 0.25 days of available leave was unfortunately not able to emulate.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good day off. Apart from the usual time wasters like household chores that included doing the washing and cleaning the dishes, I still found the time to sink a lot of web development across my CodeUnit and Funakoshi sites in, as well as polish off all the remaining episodes of Batman: Brave and the Bold that I now own on DVD. Oh, and considering that I had Monday evening to play Red Faction: Guerilla all the way through to 00:30, I really can’t complain about not being entertained!
Of course, with Tuesday being such a particularly beautiful day, it would have been an absolute crime not to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and sunshine a bit, and this then explains why at midday I found myself with hat on head, decked out in walking shoes, and happily trotting along the road with Chantelle up past Bikini Beach and the Naval College, down to the end of Gordon’s Bay Main Beach and then finally back up to the guest house again.
Seeing as Chantelle is currently in the whole detox, eat healthy and exercise more frame of mind (spurred on by the great success in this field that Retha is currently enjoying), it seems like this will be the order of the day for quite some time yet, something I quite look forward to (as you should know by now) as it is always good to get that little bit of extra exercise in! ;)
However, such a beautiful day couldn’t be satisfied with just a hour-long walk and so we decided to extend our outdoor session by going through to Bertie’s Mooring where we joined all the other patrons out on the shaded walkway next to all the fancy sailboats in the harbour and enjoyed a delightfully relaxed and slow-paced luncheon which saw Chantelle enjoy a healthy grilled fish with salad while I stuck to my guns and had the always tasty deep fried hake with chips. (But did select the much more calorie light Castle Lite as my tipple of choice for the day – if only to be able to sing Ice Ice Baby and not look like an idiot!)
And that pretty much summed up my Tuesday public holiday, though I must still mention one more little, teensy weensy detail – all of this was done whilst in absolute agony!!
My thighs were burning, my joints were stiff, my shoulders and arms were sore! Hell, I was like an old man who managed to get his shoelaces caught up in the wheel of a bus and who was then dragged for the next kilometer or two down the road!
The reason for my particular discomfort?
An exceptionally enjoyable karate training session on Monday night, marking my return to training following an off period of two weeks (i.e. four sessions) thanks to that stupid bout with flu and a chest cold I previously suffered through!
Although I had started to prepare for my return with some light sessions in the gym, obviously it wasn’t enough because the intensity level at karate in anticipation of Sensei Marius from Germany’s visit later this year and the upcoming grading has definitely been cranked up! It would seem I missed some pretty cool stuff (including the start of weapons training – something I haven’t done since I learned a bit of Chinese Broadsword back when I still did Kung Fu) during the time I was gone!
So in an effort to whip us into a respectable shape physically as well as to prepare us for the upcoming June grading, it looks like we’re going to be in some pain for quite a bit longer – but as always, well, well worth it if you ask me! :)
(Though I do feel a bit sorry for Chantelle who is going to just have to now deal with my moaning and groaning in pain every time I sit down and get up from the couch! :P)