Day Center Demo

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North Oxford Day Centre run by Age Concern invited Sensei Paul Edwards to give an interactive karate demo. Sensei Edwards began the session by giving a brief intro on the history of karate and the benefits of practicing this martial art such as body conditioning and self defence.

For those of you that aren’t sure, Sensei Edwards is the one leaning on the back of the chair.

He then demonstrated basic punches strikes and kicks and how to maximize the effect of each. This was followed by various sweeps and take downs which proved to be a good crowd pleaser.
A kata demonstration followed Heian Shodan followed by Bassai Dai.

Sensei then pressganged 2 volunteers to attempt to tie a gi and belt. They were really good sports and did very well despite the gi’s being totally the wrong size.

Sensei then decided to teach everyone to count to ten in Japanese adding actions to help remember the numbers. Everyone was very good and humoured sensei!

No they really did enjoy it.

Cup of tea and cake followed where Sensei expected to be waited on hand and foot while he answered questions on self defence issues people had. A great day was had by all!

Brenda Cross


Karate Taster Day at King Alfred’s

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On 20th and 21st July 2005 Wantage Shotokan Karate Club with in excess off 200 year 9 students from King Alfred’s School participated in a two day Active Lifestyle Fiesta. The event was held at Centre Site and the Leisure Centre in Wantage, Oxfordshire and was organised to promote healthy eating, being active, and trying new sports. In addition to be introduced to local clubs which aren’t part of the normal PE curriculum.

Students were rotated around a wide range of different activities in session lasting from 45 to 90 minutes long. These included Fencing, Archery, Rock Climbing, Trampoloining, Gymnastics, Yoga, Judo, Tai Chi, Wing Chun, Circus Skills and of course Karate.

Wantage Shotokan Karate Club held two introductory sessions with approximately 40 students. Sensei Paul Edwards was assisted by Dave Paine, Barry Knight, Brenda Cross, Catherine Harris, Ian Jordan, Matthew Johns and Henry Jones. The sessions consisted of a short overview presentation followed by basic blocks, punches and stances. These were then put together forming Heian Shodan. Basic three step sparring and then kicking shield practise were also introduced.

Students practising blocking techniques

Brenda and Ian help with chuto uke

Bary introduces himself

Dave introduces himself

TSKA April 2003 Residential Course

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Approximately 50 members of the Traditional Shotokan Karate Association travelled to Sandy Cliffs just outside Exmouth, Devon for the second association residential Gasshukua over the long weekend of the 25th to 28th April. Karate-ka travelled from Lincolnshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire to participate. There was a notable increase in numbers following the highly successful residential course in Cornwall in November 2002.

Friday was mostly set outside for the majority of participants to travel and settle into the well-furnished caravans on the coastally located campsite. TSKA’s chairman and Chief Instructor Sensei Peter Manning called an instructor’s meeting on the first evening to discuss the weekend’s training format, general paperwork/licensing/insurance issues and future association events for the year (10th anniversary association party, Instructor courses and an in-house competition amongst others).

The weekend training consisted of in excess of three hour long morning sessions at a number of locations both on and off of the campsite including the obligatory beach and sea training. Participates were divided into four groups that were taught on rotation between the four senior association instructors, Sensei Peter Manning 5th Dan, Sensei John Euden 4th Dan, Sensei Steve Rusbridge 3rd Dan and Sensei Wayne Savage 3rd Dan.

In support of traditional training in the 3 K’s; Kihon, Kata and Kumite, supplementary emphasis focused on body evasion (tai-sabaki), advanced footwork (unsoku waza), one step and foot sweeping techniques (kihon ippon kumite and ashi barai waza), hip position/alignment (shomen, hanmi and gyaku hanmi), static proprioceptive neuro-muscular facilitation (PNF) stretching techniques, catching and joint locking techniques (tsukami waza), and free sparring and deflection drills (jiyu kumite and nagashi waza).

Undoubtedly the crescendo of the weekend was the beach training, which for the second year running was held in excellent weather for the time of year. Notable acknowledgement goes to Karen Roberts, the exhibitionist from Oxfordshire for her choice of under-gi garments and to Dave Pace, Assistant Chief Instructor of the Tsuyoi Karate Association for the splendid rendition of Sanchin Kata facing the on coming waves of the English Channel.

The course concluded with certificate presentations for all the attendees and a rapturous appaulause for the course instructors and organisers. Everybody began their home journey weary and aching from the intense training (and late night socialising) but eager in anticipation for the 3rd residential training weekend planned in Kent later on in the year.

Paul Edwards

Shihan Paul Coleman Course report, 2003

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On Sunday 4th March Wantage Shotokan Karate Club had the pleasure of hosting Shihan Paul Coleman for a 3-hour kumite course. Shihan Coleman holds a 6th Dan in Goju-Ryu (and a 1st Dan in Judo) and teaches full time at his Oxford based dojo. The absolutely stunning dojo (visiting is a must) is full time and traditionally equipped with makiwara, punch bags, chi-ishi (strength stones), tetsu sashi (iron padlocks), focus pads, etc. The floor is 125 sq. meters of strip maple and has tatami (mats) to cover the whole area. 22 classes are taught per week to some 200 students, with separate classes for children and adults of different levels of ability, being beginners, intermediates and advanced. A number of my students (with my blessing) regularly supplement their training at Shihan’s dojo.

Shihan Paul has travelled, taught and fought all over the world and won three world championships titles in Iri-Kumi (continuous fighting) that included Nage waza (throwing techniques). Two in San Diego in 1989 and 1990, and then Okinawa in 1991. Shihan Coleman is now a member of the JKF (Japan Karate Federation) Goju-Kai, the world’s largest Goju-Ryu association and he is also a member of the WKF (World Karate-Do Federation) which is the largest Karate governing body in the World. Shihan has also been recognised by Japan as a high enough grade to be on the European grading panel. This was during 1999, the first time that this has ever happened outside of Japan. His chief instructor is Shuji Tasaki 8th Dan, who is based in Japan.

Basic Goju Ryu kumite utilises strikes to the groin, in particular kicking techniques. It was therefore a mandatory course requirement for an adequate groin guard that incorporated bladder and peritoneum protection. For the attendees that were unsure of the location of their peritoneum Shihan Coleman poetically described its position and that it was not a Latin plant name that was found on the garden patios. The inadequacies of cricket type groin guards were later proved during kumite when Tony Heatherington (Shodan) had to take a breather following a mai-geri to the groin from Shihan Coleman. The fact that moments before this Tony Kizami-tsukied him on the nose as he was bowing prior to hajame was purely coincidental!

To gain confidence in targeting such areas attendees partnered up and kicked their static opponents. With emphasis on not looking down hence telegraphing the kick and achieving a slight tap of foot against groin guard. The majority of attendees made contact with the ball of the foot but Shihan Coleman stressed that it does not have to be a strong kick and that the toes could be used. This should not be relied upon as a finishing technique particularly if the opponent is pumped up but is more of a set up that gives more time for a finishing technique.

Round house kicking techniques, both offensive and defensive were practised. An alternative jodan mawashi-geri consisted of a vertically downward trajectory strike instead of a horizontal blow. This was achieved by turning the hips completely over until they were facing downwards. This effectively mimicked the final hip position of ushiro geri. Shihan explain that the kick was unaffected by a defender’s vertical blocking arm. Such blocks can deflect common roundhouse techniques when the blocking arm is inclined with the defender’s chin tucked in. The vertical trajectory of the kicking shin can cut between the head and the blocking arm to strike at the neck and collarbone.

Close range thigh kicks were attempted with the front leg to the opponents opposite leg. The difficulty with such techniques is the distance available for the kicking leg to accelerate to inflict sufficient damage. A number of senior individuals were prompted to demonstrate the inadequacies of this technique. Shihan showed that the secret was to flick the front leg as if trying to remove debris from the foot. This has the affect of rolling (and in some case shearing) the muscles off from the opponent’s femur and exposing sensitive (hence painful) nerve tissue underneath.

Two defensive techniques against thigh strikes were practised, one, a bracing technique and the other body conditioning (muscle development). The first consisted on tensing the leg being kicked while simultaneously pushing forward to meet the attacking leg. This has the affect of ‘bouncing’ the attacking leg off of the defenders and avoids the attacking leg penetrating as efficiently as it would normally.

A common technique against thigh kicks is to raise the defender’s leg and meet the incoming leg. This may result in painful and damaging shin to shin contact for the uninitiated. Instead of the shin, the contacting area of the defender’s leg should be on the muscle that runs in parallel with the shin on the outer side of the leg (Tibialis anterior). The definition of this muscle is improved by resisting the tension applied by a training partner pulling both feet back while in a sitting position with both legs out straight.

Defence against a jodan mawashi geri consisted of blocking with both forearms with the hands in a cupped position. Upon impact the cupped hands circle the blocked kick and continue rotating the attacker in the same direction. Shihan noted that it was important to direct the leg in a downward direction otherwise the attacker would have added momentum that would assist in completely rotating him or her and hence allowing another attack to be initiated. Having successfully turned the attacker Shihan recommended that a hiza geri be then used to strike at the attacker’s coccyx bone.

Simultaneous blocking with nagashi uke (sliding block) and punching to the opponent’s ribs was practised. Acceleration of the striking knuckles by starting with the wrist bent increased the power delivered on short range punching. The fist rolls and takes a scooping trajectory that is particularly effective against the ribs as it helps to part and penetrate them. The target area is under the pectoral muscle and in line with the solar plexus, in Japanese this area is referred to as the Ganka. The rolling action of the fist, added to the whipping action from the hips and the instant deceleration causes a devastating shattering affect on the ribs. Although similar to Ura tzuki (Uppercut), Goju practitioners called this Shita tzuki.

Shihan Coleman will be returning to the Wantage Dojo next year and I would strongly recommend any TSKA members should make every attempt to attend. It was a shame that only one TSKA individual from outside the Wantage Dojo participated. I hope I have given you a good and interesting taste of what you missed and a subtle hint on your priorities for next time.

Paul Edwards

Sanchin Kata Course – photos

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The course was a great success

Body Mechanics

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On 22nd February 2004 Didcot Shotokan Karate Club (JKAE) hosted an open seminar with Sensei Scott Langley.

Didcot Shotokan Karate Club is a local club that we (the Wantage Shotokan Karate Club) regularly interact with. They are members of the Japan Karate Association England (JKAE) whose Chief Instructor is Sensei Yoshinobu Ohta (6th Dan).

Sensei Scott Langley is a 4th Dan and a Japan Karate Shotokai (JKS) Instructor.

The JKS Instructors course has been running for over fifty years during that time only 100 or so people have graduate and only 5 of those have been westerners; Scott being the fifth westerner to graduate from the course back in April 2002.

He is now based in Dublin, Ireland, where he is the Technical Director of the JKS GB & Ireland. He travels extensively throughout Europe teaching traditional Japanese Shotokan Karate.

The warm up was taken by Sensei Leon Brown, 2nd Dan, (Didcot).

The session was split into 4 parts; kihon, kumite, kihon again and then kata practice.

The main lesson that I took away from the course was the need to get a greater understanding of how to use my body in order to maximise its effectiveness and in particular learning how to use my hips and legs as a means to generating power and strength.

Sensei Scott talked about �body mechanics� as a way of studying how to maximize the efficiency of ones body. However, he did say that Karate runs deeper than this. �Karate is not a series of moves, karate is the deeper understanding of how to use ones body and we use these moves as a means to an end.�


To allow us to understand what was meant by “body mechanics”, we started with some basic combinations that were designed to get our hips moving into Hanme and Shomen as well as shifting our weight distribution.

One of the combinations that we practiced was, going from gedan bari, zenkutsu dachi, step forward kiba-dachi, kizami tsuki , weight 50/50. Use the back leg (as a spring) to push into zenkutsu dachi, gyaku tsuki, shifting 10% weight forward and punching directly forward, then shifting 30% weight back into kokutsu dachi and blocking shuto uke.


We practiced several different free-style kumite drills.

1. Move hips into shomen and bring hikete fist forward until elbow is on hip as a feint as if you were going to deliver a gyaku zuki then moving hips into hanme and hitting kizami zuki.

2. Moving into hanme as you use yori ashi to slide forward, feinting kizami tsuki, then go into shomen dachi, doing gyaku tsuki. Sensei Langley emphasized that the feint should not be instigated with only the front hand in isolation but the whole of the leading side and in particular by using a �twitch� of the hips.

3. From freestyle, using hips to push the body 45 degrees to the side (if both people have left leg forward, then moving to your left), then bring back leg up to attack yoko geri keage.

4. Going from hanme to shomen, then step forward shomen but to a 45 degree angle (if both people have their left leg forward, then moving to your right, stepping 45 degrees, right leg forward) and kicking mawashi geri with the back (left) leg.

5. (Dan grades only) From freestyle, feinting gyaku tsuki with shomen dachi, then using this contraction to whip the leg around to do ushiro geri ensuring weight is shifted forward by pivoting on the ball of the foot.

Back to basics

Going from neko ashi dachi, hanme, kizami tsuki to gyaku tsuki in zenkutsu dachi. And then from neko ashi dachi, shomen, gyaku tsuki to kizami tsuki, hanme in zenkutsu dachi. We also changed the angle, using our hips to generate the body movement.

Sensei Langley emphasize the need to get your arms, hips and legs moving in unison, so that the sequence flowed as one instead of looking like individual and separate movements.

Kata � Junryo Godan

Junryo means �basic beginnings�.

The Junryo katas were created by Asai Sensei 9th Dan who is the head of the JKS. He developed them over the last ten years as a way of helping high Kyu grades and Junior Dan grades develop a better understanding of body mechanics. They have stances and techniques which are found in the more advanced kata, but the junryo series are simpler. They are now a grading requirement for the JKS Dan grading. We practised Junryo Godan in small sections and then all the way through.

The class was then split into those who knew Nijushiho and those who didn�t (unfortunately I didn�t and so had to stand out). For all those who did know Nijushiho the �Body Mechanics� learnt during Junryo Godan were translated into the shotokan kata.

Finally we finished with an exercise to relax the shoulders. This was basically using the arms in a large nagashi uke movement and then either turning the opponents power back to them, by pushing them back and to the side (when punching gyaku tsuki) or using your arm like a whip and “slashing” down their chest, when they attacked jodan.

I thought that this was an excellent course that didn�t over load you with too much information but instead made you really concentrate on basic movements and getting them right.

I went away full of enthusiasm and determined that my hip movement would and will improve!

For more information take a look at Sensei Scott�s website at

Karen Roberts

American Amateur Karate Federation Course

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I recently travelled to America on a week-long business trip where I took the opportunity to train on two occasions with a club belonging to the American Amateur Karate Federation (AAKF). The Club�s competent full time instructor, Sensei Peer Halperin holds a 4th Dan in JKA Shotokan Karate in addition to a Dan grade in Batto-do and Iai-do (the way of sword drawing and cutting). The AAKF is a member of the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF) who�s President and Chief Instructor is Hidetaka Nishiyama 9th Dan. Sensei Nishiyama began his training in 1943 under Gichin Funakoshi at the original Shotokan and has been instructing at his Honobu Dojo in near by Los Angeles for the last 30 years. Sensei Halperin regularly trains under Sensei Nishiyama and his sensor student Avi Rokah (who readers may recognise as a regular contributor to Shotokan Karate Magazine).

Sensei Halperin�s full time dojo is open 6 days a week and is available for in excess of 20 hours training in the disciplines previously described (1). Having initially made contact with him through the American version of Yellow pages he warmly welcomed me to his Dojo. I managed to train at two mid-week sessions that concentrated on predominantly kata and partner combinations. The following paragraphs summarise some of the subjects covered and training drills.

Students repeatably performed their chosen (Tokui) kata slowly, initially concentrating on a number of key elements involved. Sensei Halperin explained that kata performance is made up of four key elements. These being Go (soft), Ju (hard), ryu (flowing) and Ki (energy). Correct breathing with compression and relaxation of the hara is critical. The change from one state to the other must be utilised to accelerate the practitioner into the next move. An analogy was given concerning a large compressed vertical spring positioned behind the navel. Having been fully compressed through contraction at the moment of release this reactive force must instantly be used to propel the karate-ka into the next move. Any delay between movements will only allow this energy to disperse wastefully.

Great emphasis was placed on correct body positioning and alignment to maximise stability and strength. Sensei Halperin explained that many karate-ka are encouraged to use excessively long stances. Although good connection is maintained with the floor, stance to stance movement and correct hip rotation becomes awkward. Low centre of gravity should still be sought but in shorter more practical length stances. This also allows correct centre rotation of the hips around a vertical spine. The head position should be maintained in a forward facing direction independent to a shomon or hanmi hip position.

Without correct alignment of the shoulders and elbows techniques such as rising block and knife hand block are significantly weaker. This was demonstrated with the static strength of a rising block in the completed position. Elevation of the shoulder of the leading block arm significantly weakens the technique. Lowering of the shoulders allows the latissimus dorsi muscle to have a greater influence in the whole body�s structural strength. This muscle runs from the shoulder across to the lower central back hence linking to the body�s centre of musculature (low abdominals/lumbar vertebrae, glutes).

The following simple and effective training drill allows the use correct kime and body alignment to be practised. To focus on upper body and hip position, individuals stood with their feet together in a natural stance so that the rear leg thrust from a front stance that provides most of the reaction path was isolated. Hands and arms were positioned in a choku tzuki position with care being taken that the punching fist was centre line, shoulders dropped, hikete hand was fully back on the hip and elbow tucked in. Care was also taken that the head and neck was in a straight line with the spine, and the sacrum was tilted forward (2) to maximise pressure to the floor.

A training partner then struck the punching fist with an open hand gradually increasing the force over a number of repetitions. These were initiated at the will of the training partner and sometimes avoided striking the fist as to discourage leaning into the technique. On impact the practitioner would compress the hara and concentrate on whole body kime. A successful resultant meant that the blow was resisted and that neither leg was moved backwards to prevent toppling. Having established correct form and resisted the blows, individuals were instructed to introduce singular errors into the stance. Typically head leaning forward or one shoulder elevated or hikete hand not fully back. This resulted in toppling backwards and provided an excellent demonstration of the importance of body position and it�s affects on strength and stability.

Kumite partner drills concentrated on Sen no Sen principles (simultaneous or early responses to an attack). Sensei Halperin encouraged the Uke-te (defender) to react and move at the instant of the Tzuki-te (attacker) attack. The Uke-te must move as no increase in energy is generated from a static position. Under some circumstances the Uke-te can move towards the Tzuki-te spoiling the Tzuki�s ma-ai (attacker�s distancing) before the technique has reached it�s maximum potential (Oji waza), to spoil/suppress or kill the opponents technique (Koroshi waza).

While other Go no sen (reactive response to an attack) drills involved a minimal slide back just outside the range of the attacking technique and then immediately countering as the Tzuki-te recoils (Amashi waza). Partner work then progressed to the Tzuki-te pressurising the Uke-te by compressing the distance with each attempting to dominate and control the fight�s rhythm. Each individual was asked to try and connect with their partners energy and breathing. To tune to the opponent�s timing, space and line of attack. Adjusting your rhythm to the opponents but leading it rather than following while taking care not to get drawn in.

No thoughts of pre-arranged responses should be in the mind of the Uke-te. Gyaku tzuki counter attacks were not snapped as it was seen as more of a tagging technique that was more appropriate for competition karate. Instantly withdrawing the technique was seen as not allowing the technique�s momentum to be fully delivered through the target. In addition, prematurely withdrawing a technique gives away space and the initiative for the opponent to counter. The previous exercises are described in detail in articles written by Avi Rokah in Shotokan karate Magazine (3), which indicates the regularity/importance placed on these drills within this Club�s syllabus.

Paul Edwards

Report on Sensei Dirk Heene 6th Dan weekend Course

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I recently attended one day of a weekend course taught by Sensei Dirk Henne 6th Dan of the World Karate Shotokan Association (WKSA). Sensei Heene is the chief instructor for the Belgium WSKA and is Sensei Kase 9th Dan senior European student. The course was held in Witney, Oxfordshire and hosted by Sensei Norman Gommersal 4th Dan of the English Shotokan Academy (ESA).

The Saturday session was well attended by approximately 80 karate-ka from 6th Kyu and above. The warm up consisted of a number of stretches based on Shiatsu and Makko Ho exercises to improve the flow of energy or qi around the body. Each movement works on specific pairs of meridians (energy channels) enhancing their function. Apparently Sensei Heene is well versed in such traditional oriental self healing techniques that also includes reflexology on the soles of the feet that improve the functionality of various internal organs.

A series of movements were then taught which incorporated basic blocks and counter attacks all based in Fudo dachi. The sequence included a number of changes in direction and heal steps. Having memorised this mini kata we then partnered up where the role of the attacker and defender continually changed over the duration of the combination. Amongst others, the purpose of the drill was to utilise the momentum of the attacker to either help the defender counter attack strongly or to aid tai sabachi (body evasion). The first and last moments of the drill were good examples of this.

The opening block consisted of an age uke that tried to redirect the attackers energy to immediately counter attack with the same arm using a chudan tate ken zuki (vertical fist punch). The vast majority of counter attacking stances used Fudo Dachi that is typical of Sensei Kase style of Shotokan. This is based on the principle that power is generated from a deep-rooted stance that utilises the dropping of the Hara. Body pressure exerts down hard into the floor keeping the feet flat at all times. This is distinctly different to the rear leg thrust of the majority of Shotokan styles. The last move consisted of a Gedan barai to avoid a Mai geri. The momentum of the attacker was used to help turn the defender to enable a Ushiro geri to be administered to the opponent�s floating ribs area.

The course then progressed onto Kata with Sochin and bunkei being taught. Sensei Heene explained that during the Kata the Karate-ka should have the feeling of defending the ramparts of a fortress. The rhythm of the kata should be segregated into three distinct parts. The first section the Karate-ka calmly defends three side of the castle giving the outside attackers the impressive that it is far more heavily defended. This corresponds to the sequence of moves in the first three directions that terminated in Nidan zuki�s. The middle section tempo is increased, as each facet of the fortress needs defending strongly from the now invading attackers. This corresponds to both uraken and keage combinations and the four Shoto ukes. During the last section the attackers have penetrated the castle walls and the Karate-ka is in mortal danger. The only hope of survival is to break out and go on the offensive. This corresponds to the combination of techniques in the reverse direction beginning with two shuto ukes and culminating in Mai geri and Nidan zuki.

Due to time restrictions, limited bunkei applications focussed on the use of Nagashi uke (sliding block) and tate shoto uke to re-direct the attackers arm (from above the elbow) away from the defender to enable a nidan zuki counter attack.

This was the second time I have trained at an ESA event and find the significant differences in body dynamics puzzling at first. Having seen skilled individuals on said courses I am in no doubt that these techniques are just as effective as our own methods. I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into Sensei Kase style of Shotokan Karate and if the chance arises I will attend this annually held course next year.

Paul Edwards

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