We had the privilege to host Makita Sensei 5th Dan and JKS Hombu Dojo Instructor at the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester on Thursday 7th June. With over 120 students booked on and the weather being kind to us, we were expecting a very sweaty but enjoyable couple of sessions. Makita Sensei did not disappoint us, delivering two excellent courses filled with challenging drills and inspirational demonstrations.
We should start by thanking all of the students who turned up including our visitors from JKS Leyland, JKS Preston and Leeds Karate Academy. We hope you all enjoyed it and felt very welcome. It was nice to see JKS England National Squad Coach Nick Heald Sensei 6th Dan travelling over to train with Makita Sensei, I’m sure his presence made our England Squad members work just a little bit harder!
Makita Sensei is such a warm and friendly character and I felt that this came across just as well in the dojo as he interacted almost all the students who booked on. He was also more than happy to oblige any photo or gi signing requests and made time for everyone. What a lovely Instructor and a true gentleman, we hope this will be the first of many visits in years to come!
Makita Sensei began the course with around 40 minutes of fitness and plyometric training. He started off by running the students round the huge National Taekwondo Centre training hall several times, then added 3 x toe-touch jumps to every count. Makita Sensei was able to leap at least 6ft in the air and touching his toes whilst his legs were outstretched. You simply had to see it to believe it. He defies the laws of gravity!
The students were then asked to partner up had to leap frog their partner 20 times each from a crouching position. The next stage to this was quite unbelievable as we watched Makita Sensei take a long run up and leap over the head of an almost upright Paul Wolstencroft Sensei. The group were asked to replicate this which for most, proved to be much easier said than done! It all looked great fun to be involved in, but you can see how regular practise of these sort of plyometric exercises keeps Makita Sensei so strong, dynamic not to mention extremely springy! All excellent exercises for your karate. The students were then brought back into line to practise their kihon.
The students practised zenkusodachi switching legs, making sure they stayed low and moved as sharp and dynamically as possible. Gyakuzuki was then added to the drill followed by maegeri, followed by another gyakuzuki. This drill looked extremely demanding and exhausting but Sensei made it look easy and was able to just keep going and going. He constantly emphasised the importance of good posture, natural movement and moving the hips correctly. Zak Thomas-Blackhurst, Matthew Affleck and Georgie Dyal were picked out and given a masterclass on how to do it right. A great honour for these very talented and hard-working students.
The last part of the class was spent practising and breaking down Heian Godan. The group practised the kata several times as Makita Sensei went round and corrected. He then did an awe-inspiring demonstration and broke the Kata down. He explained important technical points and how he wanted each move done. I think Mick Beardsworth Sensei from JKS Leyland has shared a video on their facebook page for anyone who wants to have a look back over it.
Next up was the Brown and Black Belts. Makita Sensei again spent at least the first 30 minutes doing fitness and flexibility drills and preparing the body for training. Makita Sensei stressed throughout, the utmost importance of hip movement and hip flexibility and the need to have a strong and flexible body for karate training.
Makita Sensei then repeated the same zenkusodachi drill that he taught to the lower grades , offering lots of correction through demonstrations and was very clear about exactly how he wanted the students to move. It is easy to see why the Hombu Dojo Instructors are so impressive at karate. They repeat exercises literally thousands of times and pay attention to every last detail. A good lesson for everyone on the course – to never neglect your kihon! And when you think you’ve got it right, practise it some more. Kihon is number 1.
Yokogeri kekomi’s were then practised and expertly demonstrated by Makita Sensei. The students were asked to work on expanding the hip, correct foot shapes and pulling the leg back in just as fast as it went out (hikite). Makita Sensei’s Yokogeri’s are almost as impressive as his jumping! Young Izzy Baron was used to demonstrate correct form and Makita Sensei was bending her foot and pulling her leg so high and so far forward, it looked absolutely painful, but Izzy looked very happy to be learning from one of the very best. Well done missus, great kick!
Makita Sensei finished the course by practising Kata Gojushiho-Sho. He broke it down into small sections and offered inspirational demonstrations. Makita Sensei went into great detail and offered lots of correction. We are very lucky to have been able to practised this Kata with Makita Sensei. He was the 2007 JKS World Kata Champion and we can see why.
JKS England Kata Squad members Grace Baron and Lori-Ann Moran were even luckier, because they got the opportunity to perform the Kata as a team alongside Makita Sensei. What an honour. If anyone caught a video of this on the night please can you share it on the facebook group for us all to see again. It was excellent, a real honour and unforgettable moment for our girls. Well done.
Well done to following students and Instructors who survived both sessions (but may be unable to walk properly for a few days):
Paul Wolstencroft Sensei, Karen Anderson Sensei, Paul Critchard Sensei, Connor Cherry Sensei, Callum Miles Sensei, Dave Smith Sensei, Rob Head Sensei, Bernie Burton Sensei, Greg and Phill Burton, Matthew Affleck, Zak Thomas Blackhurst, Aaron Jefferson, Georgie Dyal, Antony Greenough, Su Matthews and Lori-Ann Moran. I’m sure you all enjoyed the challenge!
Thanks to JKS England Head Alan Campbell and Wendy Preston for giving us this opportunity and Joanne Cherry for taking the photos on the night. Thanks also to everyone who took part and came to support the course. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to hold events like this.