The month started with the regular monthly course held at the OTGKA Honbu Dojo in London with our Chief Instructor Sensei George Andrews, 8th Dan. As we train regularly with Sensei George it is easy to become complacent, easy to forget the decades that he has devoted to the Martial Arts and the literally countless students Sensei George has taught around the world.
The following weekend we joined hundreds of fellow practitioners of Karate-Do in Liverpool for the EGKA's 40th Anniversary celebrations. We were privileged to receive instruction from the IOGKF Supreme Master, Morio Higaonna Sensei, 10th Dan. On the Friday evening a group of roughly 150 black belts practiced the fundamentals of Goju Ryu Karate-Do, under the instruction of Higaonna Sensei, together with the IOGKF Chief Instructor Tetsuji Nakamura Sensei, 7th Dan. The following two days included sessions with Sensei Ernie Molyneux, 8th Dan, Sensei Roy Flatt, 7th Dan and Sensei Paul Nolan, 7th Dan. There is so much to learn within the Goju Ryu system, that the weekend was filled with very little practice of kata. Nakamura Sensei introduced us to the concept of environmental friendly karate, or efficiently moving with relaxed muscles rather than using strength. Other personal highlights included a rapid session on self defence techniques and an interesting twist on bunkai practice. The weekend finished with a Master's Demo, including a very special performance of Shotokan Kata by Natsuko Mineghishi Sensei, assisted by Sensei Terry O'Neill, 8th Dan.
The last weekend of this trilogy was a remarkable course devoted to aid Sensei Paul Coleman, 7th Dan, in his fight against cancer. The Oxford Brookes University training facilities were provided free of charge and the instructors waived any fee to allow every penny of the money raised to support Sensei Paul. The line up of instructors was an inspiration in itself. Sensei James Rousseau, 9th Dan, the instructor responsible for spreading Goju Ryu in England and across Europe and three of the instructors that trained with him from the introduction, Sensei Tony Christian, 8th Dan, Sensei George Andrews, 8th Dan and Sensei Len Sim, 7th Dan. As if four masters were not enough, they were joined by Sensei Paul himself and Sensei Kevin Nason, 7th Dan. The junior students were taught by Sensei Penny Hughes and Sensei Natasha Coleman. Highlights of the training included the clarity of instruction from Sensei James, focusing on fast movement from the right starting position; a whirlwind tour of the martial arts world from Sensei Tony, bringing everything back to Goju Ryu, including the trinity of boxing (another important three) and practice of Hojo Undo and kakie with Sensei George.
Training with friends new and old, under inspirational instructors, it's as if Christmas came early this year!