karate kid

Seminar: (Karate Nerd) Jesse Enkamp 10th October hosted by Tipton Shotokan Karate Club

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!

It’s a phrase I’ve heard thrown out quite a lot over the years.  Whether it be the time I accidentally bumped in to that blonde Jane Ellison from Brookside many years ago in a Liverpool bar and more recently thanks to social media; I now know who Ronnie Pickering is…

The term isn’t one of my favourites to be honest, It leaves a sour, lingering taste of  self righteous, ego boosting that the user projects on to themselves.  A term that airs a sense of “I am better than you, my self, is better than your self.”

Image of Ronnie Pickering

NOT COOL!

Rock, paper scissors

COOL!

So who am I?

Most of you won’t know me, I’m a soon to be 31 year old guy whose been doing karate for many years.  I haven’t won national titles, I’m not an England International, I’m not someone that you’ll find much out about if you type my name in to Google, (I’ve tried.)  I have a regular job working my backside off to pay the bills just like any other regular bloke and in my spare time I write a blog.

If you’re in the karate World there is a guy however that you have probably heard of. Not because he’s been shouting the question from the rooftops like Mr. Pickering, moreover he’s just a hard working successful bloke that helps us karate nerds feel proud to be just that, karate nerds!

Saturday 10th October gave me the opportunity (thanks to Sensei Beggan) to train with arguably one of the most famous karate practitioners in the World.  He’s not only a national champion in his field, creator of the highly sought after Seishin Gi, but is most notably known amongst so many karate-ka due to his insightful blog Karate by Jesse. (opens in new window)   Enkamp “san” officially makes being a karate geek cool and I was privileged to be able to attend his first ever UK seminar in Oldbury hosted by Tipton Shotokan Karate Club.

We arrived for our 3 hour session nice and early, eagerly anticipating the start and what would be in store for us.  The group of 60 or so were in full force, some sporting their karate nerd tshirts just prior to the event.  The atmosphere was friendly and jovial which I think reflected the persona of Sensei Enkamp that comes across from his website.

After a good thirty minute warm up with partners, Sensei introduced us to the lesson plan looking in to the concept of Rei.

Rei

  image of rei in kanji

Rei can have many different meanings and different kanji can be used, however the one we were referring to was that of bowing, and etiquette.  Sensei Enkamp initially pointed out that as the whole body is connected when we perform rei, then it was important to look at not only the feet and ankles, but knees, back and even neck.  It was fascinating to see how much Sensei could show us on one subject and I feel that he may have only touched the surface in the three hours with plenty more to show given half a chance.  At one point whilst Sensei was having us work on flexibility in our ankles, our mission was to lay back on the floor. From this position we were to roll backwards (legs in the air behind our head) before projecting ourselves forward and landing on one foot, the other sticking out like one of those traditional Russian dancers. See the video below and you’ll know what I mean. In fact these Russian dancers would have had a serious advantage if they’d have come down to the seminar!

My effort was just that, an effort.  It may have resembled a hippo at times crash landing from the sky occasionally during my ascent to the position, but hey, God loves a trier!  Below you can see Sensei Enkamp landing how it was supposed to be done.

Image of Sensei Enkamp's ankle flexibility Russian style!

Oh and if that wasn’t hard enough Enkamp Sensei would swap legs from that position, just for good measure!

Throughout the seminar Jesse San kept us entertained with different exercises and partner work that utilised the whole body whilst drawing our attention to some key concepts for body mechanics.  I faired pretty well with the “trap your partners hand under your body test” and elements fort this concept reminded me of previous seminars with Sean Roberts Sensei (opens in new window) albeit differently explained.

A memorable moment during the seminar included the Japanese version of rock paper scissors whereby partners interlinked legs and played rock paper scissors.  The winner gaining an opportunity to stretch the partner’s legs towards a split like position until they gave up.  Just another example of a fun way to incorporate stretching and flexibility in to lessons that Jesse Sensei managed to incorporate so well.

There’s so much more that Enkamp Sensei showed us that I cannot possibly write all here.  All I’d advise is that if you get the opportunity to train with Sensei then grab it with both hands.  If you missed the 1st UK seminar you may still have a chance of getting a ticket for his 2nd one at Shenley Leisure Centre in Milton Keynes on the 7th and 8th November.  Click here for info

I’d finally like to thank Jesse Enkamp Sensei for such an amazing seminar that I’m proud to say I was apart of.  Also to Tipton Shotokan Karate Club for again providing amazing seminars with great karate exponents.  Finally I’d like to thank Susan Dixon for whom took some great photos that I’ve been given permission to use in my blog.

I’m happy to say I got a picture with Jesse San doing it how it’s supposed to be done, karate kid style!  Daniel LaRusso eat your heart out!

Karate Kid style

If your reading this Jesse San, how do I go about buying a signed copy of your book if at all possible?  I was hoping to purchase one at the seminar, but found they weren’t on sale 😦

Finally: A word of advice to anyone attending a Jesse Enkamp seminar, take a pen and paper, you’ll remember more and score some kudos points!

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SEMINAR: KARATE KID MR. MIYAGI’S DRUM TECHNIQUE EXPLAINED!

I apologise for the lack of additional material on the site.  Since I last wrote I have acquired a black and tan Jack Russell, moved house and subsequently not found the time to fit everything that I wanted to do in to my schedule, including the updates to this site/ blog.

Incase you’re a dog fan, here she is…

Image of Lucy Jack Russell Terrier

In the same period of time; I have recently purchased my 3rd laptop charger as the dog has found it somewhat a caviar addition to her other food including socks, shoes and tshirts.  I do write again however in good spirit and pleased to say that my karate training and desire to increase my knowledge remains strong.  Anyone who thinks I’m making up the laptop charger issue I’ve also enclosed this for your viewing pleasure…

image of laptop charger

You may or may not have read my previous blog post from last year regarding a seminar with Sean Roberts Sensei, but Sunday 16th August gave me the opportunity to once again train with this Shotokan karate legend.  Sensei Roberts who now lives in Hawaii has spent a lot of time with Minakami Sensei who again during a 4 hour session based at both Cocksmoor Woods and Tudor Grange gave me the opportunity to work on karate back to it’s basics.

If i were to try and summarise the objective of the lesson in a brief sentence it would be:

To attack and defend using the body core (torso) by retracting, extending and retracting back to the original position.  This might seem like gobbledeegook so I’ll try and elaborate further….

If you have space and are alone (or in front of others and you won’t get embarassed) then stand up.

Now, If we were to think of the core of our body it would be the torso, the centre of us.  Now remember that our limbs are just extensions of our torso.  When we relax our arms they dangle to the side of us.  Now I want you to twist your body violently left to right and back again multiple times in quick succession.  What happens?

If your arms fling out in mad directions then congratulations you’re doing it right and you’re human!

Image of Sean Roberts Sensei explaining the body mechanics

So what does this all have to do with karate?  Well what if there were a way to control the limbs from the torso when it was engaged correctly?  What if the arm position on engagement of the torso were able to utilise the limb to perform blocks and strikes?

In karate, most karateka would be taught to twist the hips to utilise the power before punching out.  Imagine that but a step backwards.  Our arm not using energy to punch, but our arm merely being an extension of our torso and once that is engaged correctly it will fling out to attack or defend as one with our whole body.

I’m not kidding anyone now when I say this is hard.  Whether it is because we’ve been taught for so long to engage our body in a certain way that unlearning makes it more difficult I don’t know.  We then have to factor in that this isn’t just for one block/attack…  If we recoil the body correctly it will snap back the limb and a swift engagement the other way with our torso will be able to send the other arm or leg into action.

Image of Sean Roberts Sensei Seminar August 2015

After two hours what had we learnt?  I believe everybody in the seminar understood the explanation, but when it came down to applying practically the words in to motion it became difficult.  My determination was undeterred by one sentence from Sean Roberts Sensei,

“You’re getting the hang of it.”

This isn’t something that is learnt over night.  This is something that I can take away and continue to try and engage in my karate.  For some it will work, others it won’t.  It’s up to us as karateka to listen first and foremost to the knowledge and take on board what we can use whilst discarding the rest.

Image of Sean Roberts and Ronnnie Christoper Sensei

I went home with so many questions I wanted to ask and reaffirm my understanding of the concept, but had not asked at the time.  I then found my answer in the most unlikely sources like a light bulb shattering from a power surge through the mains electricity board…

Mr. Miyagi and the karate kid!  If you’ve seen it then no doubt you’ll know what I’m talking about but if not he once spoke about a drum, the small hand held drum with two pieces of string either side no more than 3cm-4cm and attached to the end of these pieces of string were a wooden ball.

So this was Mr. Miyagi’s family secret and at the time it made no sense.

If we were to twist from the drum handle left to right and back again, the string whips round and hit the balls on to the drum.  So, can it be that the drum is the body’s torso equivalent and the string are representative of the limbs?

To me it seems that this “drum technique” actually has real life value and wasn’t just wish wash for entertainment purposes after all.  Have a look below and judge for yourself.

And if that doesn’t convince you, this bloke is showing showing it how it’s supposed to be!

Please note the Miyagi explanation to Sensei Roberts’ teaching is my interpretation solely.  I’d welcome your thoughts on

this.  Happy karate-ing all!