A bit of Shukokai when Shotokan isn’t looking!

I was speaking with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and we got talking about karate. He mentioned he trained at the same leisure centre as myself, but on a different night. “You should come down” he said.

My first reaction was a mixture of curiosity and disgust at the thought. Knowing it wouldn’t be Shotokan, I thought I’d be “cheating” on the only style I’d ever known. I pondered the idea for a couple of weeks until last week I found myself calling the instructor about popping down to have a lesson with him. This wasn’t because I was thinking of permanently leaving Shotokan for another style, but moreover I knew that work commitments this week would see my training drop and I didn’t want to end up in that position. For all my years training it was actually a little nerve racking walking to the leisure centre.  Would there be a lot of differences between the two styles? Would the instructor and students be friendly? Was my own karate good enough to hold my own with this bunch?

When I arrived any nerves were quickly put at ease as I was warmly greeted by the instructor. We had a bit of a chat about my background and training before being put through my paces with the others. We started going back to basic block and punches, something we tend to do a lot less at my normal club before moving on to punches and kicks from free style and finally testing these out on the bag.  Anybody that knows me would know that I thoroughly enjoyed this.  There’s always a sense of satisfaction hitting and kicking something as hard as you can;  Especially when one spends so much time with sparring partners exercising very good control!

I became very interested to see the differences between the two styles and to be honest from what I could find in my two hours training? There wasn’t a lot. Techniques tended to break away from the traditional Shotokan full movements with shorter techniques when doing blocks such as gedan barai and some of the kicks were more karate sport, such as the ura mawashageri where the kick stopped then came back round the other way. I’m not sure if this was specific to Shukokai or structured due to the karate sport competitions that most people fought in who study that style. Either way it felt a little awkward. The thought of stopping the leg upon touch to score a point as opposed to following through made it quite a weird feeling. I wondered afterwards whether if I’d been taught like that it would subsequently affect my power on the street if the worst were to happen. An inevitable stop on impact creating a soft move, which subsequently would defeat the point of the kick in the first place! The instructor may have had a point though when watching my ura mawashageri; Mentioning that he could see why I had been disqualified at the previous Kizuna World Championship with the follow through on my kicks!

All in all I enjoyed the session and definitely lost a few pounds from the gruelling pace. As our own club continues to enter more karate sport kind of competitions as opposed to the more traditional KUGB style tournaments, it was good to train with the Shukokai club as it gave an insight in to techniques used specifically to win these kind of WKF tournaments. Most importantly of all though it was nice to meet new people and make new friends who share a common interest.

I’ll definitely be popping back down again very soon!

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