Sunday 23 December 2007

Trainee from Ireland

Today a shodan from Ireland, Ben Kelly, visited my dojo here in Kyushu, for a private lesson. He trains under the guidance of his long-time instructor, Gerard Clyne Sensei, in Tuam (Shobukan dojo), who is a direct student of Kato Shihan. Ben has been travelling around Japan with his father Eamonn for the first time, and it was a great pleasure to host both of them. Great guys!

During the two and a quarter hour lesson I brushed over a number of topics crucial to understand Asai style karate, including the understanding of Sensei's centralised/basic alignment power (using choku zuki as a model). We also worked on transfer of weight in punches and kicks (gyaku zuki and mae geri) to ensure maximum impact, as opposed to 'point scoring'.

Staying on topic we walked through two kata, Kakuyoku-nidan and the advanced Kaminari-arashi, with the focus still being on Asai Sensei's 'alignment'. Ben was keen to learn and asked many excellent questions in regards to the practical applications, which I hope I 'physically answered' sufficiently! Ben recognised that Asai-ryu karate is lethal and directly applicable in the real world.

Continuing from there I also taught Ben some combative applications for two arm techniques, commonly found in the Shotokan kata, as researched by Asai Sensei (his koten oyo jutsu or 'classical application for combat): (a) Jodan ura zuki with simultaneous zenwan mune mae suihei gamae; (b) Simultaneous jodan sokumen uchi uke and sokumen gedan barai (AKA manji kamae); and (c) Yumi zuki. Such techniques formed the basis for Sensei's development of 'snapping techniques' and the 'control then hit tactics' he advocated.

Other aspects of the training included the kihon for ducking under kicks, and strikes, as well as the first of Asai Sensei's Goshin-jutsu drills (which includes a cover, duck, turn and grounded sequence). This series of practical combinations were a regular part of Asai Sensei's infamous morning workouts. We also covered several other exercises as well, and Ben was enthusiatic enough to try them all, and without hesitation. The entire session was very similar to the private training I recieved from Asai Sensei, so hopefully it was an enlightening experience for Ben.

After training, we enjoyed a kaiten sushi meal, followed by a little sightseeing (even getting fortunes told, at a Shinto shrine, for 100 yen a pop!!!) Mizuho and I greatly enjoyed meeting Ben and his father, and hope to see them both again in the future. Ben is a huge credit to his father, karate teacher Gerard Clyne, and IJKA Ireland. Keep up the great work Ben and please remember 石の上にも三年 "Ishi no uenimo san nen".

OSU, Andre

© André Bertel, Japan 2007

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