This year the all day event took place in the sunny gymnasium of St Mary Magdelena School in the traditional Spanish hill top town of Benitachell. Although the class was mostly attended by senior belts, many juniors from the Benitachell Karate school also took part in the morning session, with the assistance of Sensei Sarah Lakin 3rd Dan who was standing in for club president Geovanny Sanchez.
Shihan Chris Thompson started the class by reminding the group of why we do karate. “You must do it because you enjoy it, otherwise do something else.” Most young Karate- Ka start because their parents believe it will help them deal with a bullying problem or help them to become more fit and active. The students that continue, do so because karate becomes part of their way of life. Maintaining those skills and cer an opportunity to learn something new is the reason why periodically the school holds Gasshuku events where all students help each other improve under the guidance of a karate master.
Sensei then reminded the class that for the first time Karate was going to be included in the Olympics which will take place in Tokyo, Japan in 2020. He said that this had caused a resurgence of interest in karate, but it had also created an environment where many unqualified individuals could set up schools. The Washinkai style of karate is recognised the world over and Washinkai students will be eligible to trial for the UK and Spanish National teams. Karate clubs that operate outside of World Karate Federation or Japanese Karate Federation recognition, will not be eligible to participate. He expected the UK and Spain to have qualifying teams, but there would be very tough competition for places, as the host Japanese team were the only ones guaranteed a place in all 10 categories.
There then followed a talk about some of the requirements to compete in the Olympics. A key category would be Kata and it was therefore important to understand that a Kata should be enacted solely in the foundation style. It was not desirable to mix and match elements from other styles in the same Kata.
Sensei then started the class with a callisthenic warm up, slowly stretching and warming up all the anatomy needed to do the Kihon or the punching and kicking exercises that form part of our martial art. This was followed by partner work. Sensei explained that most traditional dojos did not have weights lying around, so they would build strength by lifting and pushing each other in their partner work.
The partner work continued with advanced Ohyo Gumite 9 to 14, lethal unarmed techniques from Japan intended to end a conflict quickly and with few moves. Soon it was time for the class to break for lunch at a local bar called Trillador, which serves local tapas and has views over the Benitachell valley and towards the sea.
The afternoon session started with a brief history of our style of karate. 90% of the Kata we do today is Chinese in origin and in competition it is important to maintain the integrity of each style. We were introduced to a number of changes in the way some Kata are taught.
The class came to a close and once again Sensei talked about how pleased he was that the club had continued to grow and stay strong. Under the leadership of Sensei Geovanny and with the help of Sensei Sarah Lakin and the Dan grades that assist all classes, he could see a very bright future for Spanish Washinkai Karate.
Shihan Chris Thompson plans to return to Spain in May 2017 where there will be a Spring Gasshuku and hopefully new dan grades.