Best of the Best Seminar
By John Kelly
All grades and all ages were gathered in the main Hall anticipating the round up of martial events that awaited them. Some were individually warming up and some were chatting in groups until they were all called together for the introductions and a presentation, after which they were split into three groups which were junior purple belt and below, juniors brown belt and above and all the seniors together. The Sensei’s were split into three groups of pairs. The pairs were Sensei Ken Hassell 6th Dan with Sensei Ray Payne 7th Dan, Sensei Randolph Williams 6th Dan with Sensei Jacqui O’Shea 5th Dan and Sensei John Johnston 6th Dan with Sensei Eddie O’Donnell 6th Dan.
John Johnston and Eddie O’Donnell took the junior browns belts and above. Eddie started the session with some very solid Kihon. Working on their stances and how it applied to their hand techniques. Part of Eddie’s session was some partner work showing how you give an opening to an opponent inviting their attack and how to take advantage. As there was an odd number in the class Sensei Johnston partnered with brown belt of about nine years old and was painfully surprised at his intensity and commitment, which was shown by all students. It was then time for Sensei Johnston to take the session and continued along the same theme of stances with some partner work showing how you can evade an opponent’s attack with transition of stance and appropriate blocks this work was cut short as it was time to move on to the lower grade juniors. Again Sensei O’Donnell took the lead and took them through quite an advanced sparring routine of evasion of Ashi-Barai which led to a take down and follow up. Although this type of work was quite advanced, the ability and enthusiasm of the students allowed them to cope with it all very well. When it was Sensei Johnston’s turn he followed this with some applications of Heian Shodan and Heian Yondan adapted for close quarters confrontation. Again the young students picked it up very well.
There was then a short break for lunch after which the seminar was split into two groups consisting of senior grades Shodan and above and senior lower grades. The lower grades went off to their allotted room with Sensei’s Hassell, Payne and O’Donnell.
Sensei Hassell went through balance,correct kicking posture to maximise power and form.This was mind blowing as before this a lot taught they were good kickers but the way Sensei Hassell broke it down and explained it in lay mans terms made it a great session.Sensei Payne went through breathing techniques advance kihon and stances and the higher grades remained with Sensei’s Johnston, Williams and O’Shea. Sensei Randolph Williams started it off with a variety of competition techniques which led to some quite devastating take downs. Sensei John Johnston was next to follow with a variety of street defence techniques, again adapted from Kata. This was received quite enthusiastically even though the students had been worked quite hard by Sensei Williams. The street defence involved the nitty gritty of how to stop and control an opponent. Sadly time once again was soon to run out. Finishing ceremonies were completed and allowed for some group photos to be taken. There was a question and answer session with the Sensei’s although the students would have gone away with more questions than they had answers due to the there being such high calibre instructors packed into one fantastic day. There was a great rapport between the instructors, no ego’s no politics just high quality instruction. The hospitality and camaraderie was excellent. But what made it successful was the ability and enthusiasm of the students. What a great day…
For me this was a dream come through and to have such karate ka on the same seminar willing to answer any question asked and to pass on the expertise in friendly,fun and enjoyable atmosphere.
I’m sure like my students at next training night their appetite and hunger for knowledge was only strengthened after this seminar with the Best Of The Best.