I wouldn't normally write an end of the year review, but this year obviously hasn't been normal. While we are missing the dojo terribly, there have been plenty of positive moments to look back on.
It feels like a lifetime ago, but in February we celebrated the ten year anniversary of Cambridge Goju Ryu. We held a training course with special guests Sensei George Andrews and Sensei Simon Oliver. It was great day and it feels me with great pride to look back at the photos of so many people training with us.
A few weeks later Nick and David traveled to London for a weekend of intensive training, at the end of which they were awarded 1st kyu pass. Little did we know that this would be the last grading weekend of the year. During the year we graded Debasish, Virginia and Cassius online, but nothing compares to a grading in the dojo.
I remember our last class in March, we focused on Sanchin kata and naively thought that we would return to the dojo after the lock down. I had no plans to start teaching online, as surely that wouldn't work. A few weeks later we joined the Zoom revolution and started teaching from our home. We made a couple of changes, switching the Thursday evening classes to Saturday mornings and reducing the length of the classes to just one hour, and as I write this almost 9 months later we're still going strong. Space has always been a major concern of mine so we haven't practiced kata as I would like to and instead we have concentrated on smaller sections of the kata, which could be considered as more important than the full sequence. During this experience we haven't been alone of course. Sensei George soon began teaching the usual OTGKA weekend courses again, although just on a Sunday morning, and the IOGKF and other senior instructors have held online courses.
One of my proudest moments of the year was our involvement in the production of a ten minute demonstration video, which was used by Japan Matsuri Presents 2020.
Karate means different things to different people, although for us, self defense is the core purpose. However, self defense can also be interpreted in different ways. While self defense techniques from physical attack is of course very important, the process in which we obtain these skills should not be overlooked. One aspect that has perhaps been more important than ever this year is mental health, self defense from stress or anxiety. Hopefully this is something that can be achieved during a class, even if only for a short while as you sweat and forget about any issues of the day. With that in mind, for the first time at Cambridge Goju Ryu we celebrated Halloween and this weekend we hosted an online quiz.
Thanks to everyone that has supported the club this year, without you it would have been a much harder time. We look forward to returning to the dojo, but having survived this long we'll wait until it is the right thing to do. Wishing you a Happy Christmas and all the best for 2021.