Report on Karate Course in Arlon March 2007
Anne Rasimus, Luxembourg
Sei-Sen Karaté Club Arlon with Sensei André Lallemand at the helm organised the 17th International Karate course in Arlon, Belgium. We had the luxury to be instructed by three high level Senseis: Dirk Heene 7th dan, Francois Van Binst 6th dan and Pascal Petrella 5th dan.
From the three training sessions two were on Saturday and one on Sunday. The participants were divided into three groups:
- Group I from 9th to 5th kyu
- Group II from 4th to 1st kyu
- Group III dan levels
The programme of the group I (9th - 5th kyu)
During the first session Sensei Heene focused essentially on different uses of fist, e.g. Zuki, Tetsui, Uraken, connected to stances and positions. After the learning phase they were practised and tested in kumite.
Sensei Petrella started the second session with basic kihon e.g. execution of Oi zuki connected to the right position (knee, foot, hips), timing, mowing forward and backwards etc. Then the same was applied to Age uke, Shuto uke in Kokutsu dachi and Mae geri. Next step was to test the acquired skills with Sanbon kumite. At the end the group trained Heian yondan and its bunkai.
On Sunday Sensei Van Binst concentrated deeply on Heian sandan. The kata was trained in omote, ura, go and ura go. The study was rounded up with applications.
The programme of the group II (4th to 1st kyu)
Sensei Van Binst started with the in depth study of Heian Sandan. The kata was performed, just like in the group I, omote, ura, go and ura go. In this group the applications were, naturally, more manifold and diverse. In the end the skills were put into test with open hand kumite applications.
Next, Sensei Heene concentrated on Bassai dai. After learning the form the group managed to train the bunkai till the first kiai.
On Sunday Sensei Petrella started with randori. The subject of the training was especially the principles of maai and zanshin. First, the understanding of distance was developed with various exercises. Then the sense of timing was trained with Deai kizami tsuki. The session was finished with Tekki shodan and its bunkai.
The programme of the group I (dan levels)
Sensei Petrella first explained what rooting is and/or could be. He demonstrated the physical side of it with the positions of foot, ankle and hips etc. Then he moved to breathing and showed how to breathe out with kime. We tested it with the partner's fingers pressing on our hara (navel) level, first standing (arms up or down) then on the floor. Then it was up to us to put these aspects into the 8 Sensei Kase's open hand blocks, which was not an easy task. It was necessary to remember to breathe into stomach, move correctly, swing the arms and upper body, keeping the shoulders relaxed though, moving forward and then backwards. Next, we practiced with a partner keeping in mind Attobaya, Mikiri, Zanshin, Mushin, just to mention some of the aspects. Then we added Hentei or Seitei with open hand. Finally we varied the blocks O waza, Ju waza and Ko waza with/without counter.
Sensei Pascal said that the rooting commences with a mental, emotional and spiritual aspect of the personality. In kihon and kata training the physical and energetic rooting supports our mental and emotional changes in everyday life. In karate the rooting is manifested in a stable stance. Emotionally, a rooted and stable personality expresses itself in having clear goals as well as being able to control one's willpower and emotions. We all know, how it feels being very nervous or angry or scared. At that moment our energy centre is probably either in our stomach or in the throat (e.g. having a lump in the throat). That means, we are not rooted, the energy does not flow through us freely. The centre of energy goes up and down, depending on our physical position or our emotional state of mind. It may not be forgotten that also the spiritual aspects of rooting are refined through karate training.
Sensei Heene started the next session with Okuri ashi combined with 180 degree turn. Having found a more rooted stability and speed we added to the turn progressively different techniques, first a block (e.g. Age uke, Soto uke and Gedan barai), then Gyaku zuki and finally a kick.
Then we studied Fumikomi. Through this stamping on the floor one creates vibrations shooting through the body and releasing power into the techniques. We practiced this in kumite and linked it with Gyaku uraken. We continued to train this energy with progressively comprehensive exercises, including aspects of Tai sabaki and Go-no-sen and Tai-no-sen. One clear application example is the beginning of Bassai dai.
Sensei Van Binst started off the training with kihon exercises; first Sanbon zuki combinations, then double blocks and counters combined with moving. These combinations were built into a partner exercise in such a way that we really learn to mark each technique properly and hence improve the overall quality of the techniques.
After that we turned to Heian Yondan go. Next, we formed lines creating a square. Each line of the square (facing each other) performed the kata in different way, either omote, ura, go or ura go. Needless to say that even though the kata is familiar this exercise challenged my concentration and also performing it in this form gave a different energy to it. We finished the session training the Heian yondan bunkai.After some group pictures the weekend course was over but its effects are to be trained and improved.