Kagawa Shihan at the JKS England Spring Course

A handful of Red Tigers attended the Spring Seminar with JKS World Technical Director Masao Kagawa Shihan 9th Dan on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th March.

For those training it was an honour to be taught by one of the greatest ever karate practitioners of our generation. Kagawa Shihan is always extremely impressive. His list of personal achievements and championships he has won over the years speak for themselves. But once you see him in real life action and the way he moves, you simply cannot comprehend the fact that he is over 60 years old. He is a true genius and a master of the art. An inspiration and a gentleman. We are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to train with him each year and the course is always a sell out!

He continued to emphasise throughout the training the importance of not allowing your karate to be ordinary. Always make it big, relaxed, powerful and above all – natural. Use every part of your body. Relax the shoulders. Techniques should not be forced and movement should be as natural as possible. He likened karate to the movement of a lion. slowly, carefully, creeping then…..BOOM EXPLOSIVE! Everything he said made perfect sense and our karate should be practised this way.

Never do your karate like a penguin! He was calling us all pingu which was very funny!

A few Red Tiger Instructors and 2 students were able to make the journey over to Nottingham and we all trained very hard. Congratulations to John Dolan Sensei, Helen Dolan Sensei, Jaime Padron Sensei, Dave Smith Sensei, Rob Head Sensei, Mike Beckwith Sensei, Leesa Beckwith Sensei, Teresa Withington Sensei, Helen Finnye Sensei, Karen Anderson Sensei, Benjamin and Zak Wegg,  Paul Wolstencroft Sensei and myself for taking part.



Kagawa Shihan was on fine form as always and performed some inspirational demonstrations of both kicking, stances and striking techniques. His timing and ability to generate speed and devastating power has to be seen to be believed.

His teaching & training methods and attention to detail combined with his extraordinary ability to put it all into practise year after year, are clearly the reasons why he is one of the most highly respected Japanese Instructors ever. You can also see why the likes of Nagaki Sensei, Watanabe Sensei, Toyama Sensei and Matsue Sensei are all exceptionally impressive karateka, because they have Kagawa Shihan teaching them day in, day out!

As always, a Sandan and above grading was held after the 4 hours of karate. We had a couple of candidates Teresa Withington Sensei and Leesa Beckwith Sensei and also one of our former Instructors Joni Longden who recently returned from Japan and did some training with his when he was back in Manchester.

As if they weren’t exhausted enough after hours of kihon, kumite and Gojushiho-Sho, they then had to perform Kata and Kumite in front of 29 Dans worth of Senior Instructors! Kagawa Shihan 9th Dan was joined by Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan, Nick Heald Sensei 7th Dan and Matt Price Sensei 6th Dan to critique the grading candidates.

The great news is that Teresa Withington passed both the kata and kumite at the first attempt. She was absolutely fantastic. She appeared very calm on the surface but I’m sure inside she was feeling anything but. Her karate Katas were beautiful and her kumite was strong and much improved from last time. She landed some good techniques and looked much more comfortable and confident. Huge congratulations to Teresa Sensei on a rare and enormous achievement. We are so happy and really proud of you!

Leesa Sensei performed both Katas with confidence and showed that she has made exceptional progress with her karate. She did well in the kumite section and the great news is she passed this section. She has been asked to spend a few months working on her Katas and retake that section. Such a disappointment is always crushing and we really felt for Leesa on the day. You kept that beautiful smile on your lovely face but I know as well as you do that it cuts deep, especially when you’ve worked so hard for something that you really wanted. Leesa is one of the bravest and most resilient people I know and there’s no doubt that will be absolutely determined to smash this part of the test next time around. You should be so proud of yourself for even attempting grading, having the bottle to get up in front of everything and be judged by others on something you have spend 20 + years doing. That is inspirational in itself. We are so proud of you already. Just keep going and you’ll get there. You can do it and we all believe in you.

We are also pleased to report that Joni Longden passed his Sandan. Joni’s karate has always been really impressive and he put in an excellent performance for the panel. His Katas were strong and sharp and he landed some awesome kicks and combinations in the kumite section. They sure made you work for it. Congratulations!

All of the grading candidates were given a hard time so if you are nidan thinking of sandan or higher for next March, the work has to start now!