After attending Sensei Matt Price’s seminar the other week, I managed to make it a double whammy by joining my own Ruach club in a visit to meet no other than Sean Roberts Sensei. Sensei Roberts lives in Hawaii and has had a strong link with the Ruach Karate Clubs and Sensei Ronnie Christopher dating back to at least 2002 where both collaborated on a joint project entitled Inspirational Karate. A production that is widely regarded as the pinnacle in karate training incorporating (at the time) new and old school karateka.
The last time I saw Sensei Roberts was around 10 years ago if not longer and I have to say the stuff Sensei was teaching was on another level. I’d made the session bright and early for 8am in Bromsgrove all ready for the 8:30 start. Upon arriving, Sensei Christopher and Sensei Roberts were already there and this gave me a bit of time to have a catch up with Ronnie and listen to Sensei Roberts before we were to start. What continually strikes me when I meet these great Sensei’s is the down to Earth, humble attitude in which they carry themselves. To be honest, I don’t know why it keeps surprising me. After all, the very art in which we do teaches good ethos and etiquette so why should these great teachers be any different? I guess for me personally it’s the high pedestal upon which I find myself putting them. You watch these guys competing or training with a mixed emotion sense of fear and curiosity at the same time. I keep on having to remind myself that these people are human beings like the rest of us. One day I may be able to disassociate this Super Hero label I give out and view these guys as one of us, but for now I won’t hold my breath.
Training began at 8:30 sharp and after a good warm up we got to work. If somebody had of walked in off the street and saw us in the distance for the hour they would have concluded that all we had done was stand on the spot and throw about 50 reverse punches. Pretty boring huh? WRONG! What we listened to and subsequently tried to digest from Sensei Roberts involved so much more. A fountain of knowledge being given, too much for the brain to take in leaving us all in a state of brain overload! As karateka, especially in a traditional Shotokan form we have always been taught the art of finishing fights with one killer blow, but this isn’t always possible is it. As a club we’ve touched on the subject; pushing through our front knee to move faster and thus keeping the centre of gravity low, using our arm to increase directional rotation causing us to almost fall over, twisting our hips to ensure we hit with power, but what Sensei Roberts was showing us made our fundamental knowledge of body movement look like something from a pre-school production. I still have words ringing through my mind, “contract” “recoil” “extension”, so much information that it makes me question every technique I’ve previously learnt.
It’s hard for me to explain in words the teachings of Sensei Roberts. What makes it harder is that without being able to fully incorporate it in to my karate at a drop of a hat, the task becomes twice as difficult. After practicing techniques a certain way for so many years; unlearning or relearning new techniques becomes difficult as the old ones must first be broken down. The lesson seemed to finish as quickly as it had began and I made a quick dash down from Bromsgrove to Stourbridge with Sensei Beggan. On arrival I immediately started to try and put in to practice what I’d been told just an hour before and the results were to say the least pretty shocking. In that one hour I must have looked like I’d never done a karate lesson in my life.
So now what…?
Do I disregard the one hour crash course I’d just had and stick with what I know? Or do I take the tougher, unknown road; take a few steps back and embrace my new found karate knowledge to achieve a better standard in the long run? Well, I’ve never been a fan of the easy option and karate is a life time of learning. I best get started!