Masao Kagawa Shihan 8th Dan (the World Technical Director of the JKS) made his annual visit to JKS England last weekend and taught 3 challenging courses over two days. For those training it was an honour to be taught by one of the greatest ever karate practitioners of our generation. Kagawa Shihan is extremely impressive on videos. The 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 turns 60 years old this year. He is a true genius and a master of the art. An inspiration and a gentleman.
Six of our Instructors and three students were able to make the journey and trained very hard. Congratulations to Connor Cherry, Ben Duckworth, Sam Jackson, Mike Beckwith Sensei, Tony Davies Sensei, Joni Longden Sensei, Callum Miles Sensei, Nicola Holland Sensei, Paul Wolstencroft Sensei and I for taking part. Four of us trained on the Friday evening and Kagawa Shihan was on fine form.
He was performing some inspirational demonstrations of both kicking and striking techniques. His timing and ability to generate speed and devastating power has to be seen to be believed. His teaching and training methods and attention to detail combined with his extraordinary ability are clearly the reasons why he is one of the most respected Japanese Instructors ever. He continued to pick out Joni Sensei and his partner for demonstrations which is an incredible honour for them both. He represented our Club brilliantly in the demonstrations (as he always does) it was great to watch him up there with the Boss.
There were another two sessions on the Saturday and Kagawa Shihan covered all of the Heain Katas and all of the Junro Katas along with some kihon drills and kumite point scoring practise drills. We also discovered that Kagawa Shihan can perform Kata Junro Yondan in less than 30 seconds which is mind blowing! We all thoroughly enjoyed the training and our bodies were aching and our feet were on fire by the end.
We would like to say a massive thank you to Kagawa Shihan for sharing his knowledge and to Alan Campbell Sensei and Wendy Preston for putting together this event, inviting and looking after us all and making everything possible.
This excellent weekend of karate ended on a very successful note for our own Chief Instructor Paul Wolstencroft Sensei. He has been training with Matt Price Sensei for the last 12 months to learn the JKS style of Shotokan Katas and Kumite style. This hard work paid off at the Dan Grading on Saturday afternoon whereby Paul Sensei attempted the JKS Yondan grading under Kagawa Shihan and Alan Campbell Sensei and we a delighted to report that he passed.
Paul Sensei chose to do Kata ‘Gojushiho Dai’ as his choice Kata. He performed it with confidence and was careful to make sure the Kata flowed from one move to the next with precision and power, without stamping or rushing from one move to the next. Kagawa Shihan could then ask for any of the Katas from the entire Kata syllabus. There are 26 traditional Shotokan Katas that you must learn for Yondan and the JKS have an additional 5 Junro Katas that could be chosen. Preparing for this grading is a mammoth task and Paul Sensei has now done this twice.
Kagawa Shihan chose Kata ‘Jion’ and once again Paul Sensei remained calm under immense pressure and performed the Kata brilliantly. The Kata section was then followed by Jiyu Kumite between fellow candidates for Yondan.
Candidates are expected to show continuous combinations and score points on your opponent throughout the duration of your fight. This is very difficult as you only have a couple of minutes to show the very best techniques you are capable of and ensure that they land on your opponent with pin-point accuracy and controlled aggression. There were some outstanding fights to watch especially between the Yondan Candidates and Paul Sensei scored some excellent techniques.
So our Chief Instructor has once again led by example and refused to take the easy route. After already achieving Yondan in 2013 with Colin Needham Sensei he could have ratified this grade with JKS, yet Paul Sensei wanted to complete a full cross over grading. A very brave decision indeed which has thankfully paid off. Sensei Paul would like to thank the students and Instructors who travelled down there to support him as well as Alan Sensei for giving him this once in a lifetime opportunity. He would also like to thank Matt Price Sensei and Colin Needham Sensei for all their guidance, support, tuition and expertise over the years.
We would also like to congratulate all the other Instructors who took Dan grade examinations on the day especially Kevin Christopher from JKS Leyland. The standard in JKS England is so incredibly high and everyone is so friendly and supportive. It really does feel like home to us now and we look forward to many more events like this and helping our Instructors and students achieve more and more with the Association.
Thanks to all Instructors who covered classes over the weekend and everyone who has sent in messages of support and congratulations. It really does mean a lot.