Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Fee Fi Fo Fan, I smell the kata of a Shotokan...

An exhausting but rewarding couple of weeks!

The Harrtlepool Wadokai Championships were a great success for Leicester Karate Association as we scooped 10 medals in total across 8 categories. Sadly the pairs senior kata didn't place but I did manage to scrape bronze in the mixed masters individual kata and am now working towards the Aiwakai Nationals in Sheffield in April.

I'm very aware that one of the reasons I managed to place at Hartlepool was that it was an open kata format and there were no stringent penalties for interpretation outside of the style standard. This allowed my shotokanisms to creep in and possibly enhance my performance rather than damage it.

In April the standard will be very much the Aiwakai Wado-kai way. Deviations from the kata taught by Sakagami Sensei  probably won't be tolerated and I'm having to really focus on the nuances as well as the big stuff. Fortunately I was able to attend the Wadokai England Squad training the following Saturday where Sensei Peter May worked through the technical step by step application of Bassai for two hours with us. I'm working on the following diferrences:

1. Don't cross legs on the first move, leave them parallel but bent forward
2. When transitioning from the last Uchiuke before stepping into Shuto - maintain the line by shuffling the rear foot first
3. Stepping back after the third Shuto the hands land as if to grab an arm and then twist into the second position, right arm forward, not left,
4. On the rise into musubidachi there is now no pause before the hands rise into morote jodan uke.
5. There is no tobi forward between the morote tetsuis and the migi junzuki, this is done on the spot.

This is the closest video I can find to what I was taught on Saturday:

Whilst all the senior senseis were hugely supportive, they all implied that basically I still reek of Shotokan!

I'm also very conscious that whilst I have passable Pinans, Wanshu and Bassai, my Niseishi, Naihanchi and Seishan need work and my Kushanku and Chinto are non-existant.

Too big a challenge? We'll have to see.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

That sync..ing feeling!

Dedicated with respect to all those affected by the recent events in Japan; placing this post firmly in perspective; ame futte ji katamaru.

Just four days until the Hartlepool tournament and much has changed since my last post. We have now become two pairs as there is no category for team kata, meaning that Alex and I, and Andy and Josh are competing seperately. It's hard to know if pairs is easier than team; certainly syncing with one person is more
simple than with two, but the focus of the judges is also diffused, and differences are easier to spot.

I can honestly say that if you ever wanted to get your head around Wado stances and style and the differences between it and Shotokan, then continually running through two kata over and over again with a very competent Wado third dan and another III looking on... will certainly help.

This tournament requires that all pairs begin with a Pinan kata, so it's back to basics and onto Godan. My Neko Dachi is L shaped, but the back foot should face forward, my Shuto is too low and too far from my body, my Kiba Dachi is too wide and parallel. I move in circles slowly, but I need to move in straight lines quickly. In Wanshu, our timing is hot but my fists, which resolutely return to my hip after every technique, are slowing me down and highlighting our differences. I keep reminding myself, Wado is like the salute from my army cadet days, "the quickest way down".

It's been a hard couple of weeks but fascinating and exhilarating. At the same time I am rehearsing my individual katas, which include a faster Godan than the pairs version and a snappy Bassai and I am spending every spare moment practicing, my kitchen at home and the cloakroom at work becoming temporary dojos.

We have a good sized squad going up to Hartlepool on Sunday (at 6am!!!) including some juniors in both kata and kumite, including our winners from last time; Junaid and Patrick and, of course, my buddy Alex. Best of luck to everyone competing and as always, I'll let you know how it goes.