A weekend seminar hosted by:
The Nanaimo Shotokan Karate Club
Kancho Hirokazu Kanazawa, 10th Dan, (SKIF)
Chief Instructor, Shotokan Karate International Federation,
and Sensei Nobuaki Kanazawa, 6th Dan, (SKIF)
A legend comes to town
It had been more than 30 years since Kancho Hirokazu Kanzawa last set foot on Vancouver Island, but this time he did not come alone. With him on this most memorable occasion was his son, Sensei Nobuaki Kanazawa, 6th Dan, SKIF, and a world class competitor in his own right. The seminar was held in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, and admirably hosted by the members of the Nanaimo Shotokan Karate Club.
For me this weekend held an additional cause for celebration. I would be returning for the first time in more than 25 years to the karate club that I first joined when I began my journey down the Shotokan road more than thirty years ago. I was therefore most gratified to see in attendance my very first karate instructor and the Founder of the Nanaimo Shotokan Karate Club, Sensei Sam McGee. Also there I was reacquainted with my first Sempai, now Sensei Narin Semple, and Sensei Doug Rathy who I remember as a brown belt when I joined the dojo. I must say that it felt good to "return home" after all these years even, if it was for such a short visit.
Sempai Katharine, Sempai Diane, Sempai Uwe, Daniel, Karen, Sensei Norman
Along with me came a number of my senior Dan ranks, as well as some die hard kyu belts for whom karate is not a sport, but instead more like a way of life, and for whom even "a bad day training in the dojo, beats a good day doing almost anything else".
Start at the beginning
The first order of business was the traditional line up followed by the appropriate bows to our two guests. After the formalities were completed Kancho Kanazawa gave everyone their first two lessons, the proper way to kneel down into seiza, followed by a lesson in the proper way to tie your belt. It seems that even some senior Dan ranks were unaware and very surprised to find that there is one way for women to tie their obi, and a slightly different way for men. Both lessons were repeated each day, and while most took the lessons to heart there was little doubt, however, from some of the comments that were later overheard, that some of the more senior Dan ranks intended to go right back to their own way of doing things once the seminar was over and they returned to their own dojo.
Sensei Nobuaki's technique was first class
Each day the sessions began with stretching followed by a short warm up. Sensei Nobuaki Kanazawa used the same pattern each day leaving everyone nicely stretched out at the end of it all. Sensei Nobuaki's high technical skills, balance, posture, and timing were clearly evident throughout the weekend and expertly demonstrated on more than one occasion clearly attesting to his many years of dedicated practice.
We began with kihon
In total there were close to 100 students of all ranks and ranging in ages from young teens, to many of us "old timers" in our 50's, 60' and even 70's all of who would leave at the end of the weekend far more knowledgeable than when they first walked in the door. Primary focus was on hip movement, balance, and posture.
Jyu Ippon Kumite
A good deal of the weekend was also devoted to jyu ippon kumite and the eight points of balance. Here Kancho Kanzawa demonstrates with Sensei Nobuaki the art of body shifting, blocking, and counter attacking, all of the methods used are current grading requirements for students within the ISKF and have been used as a teaching method in other seminars given by Kancho Kanazawa including this years Master Camp in the U.S.A. Each aspect of what was taught was keenly observed by Dana who is standing to the left and by Sensei Norman and Daniel who are seated to the right. Very shortly their next task would be to make it all work with a partner.
Practice and more practice
Afterwards each demonstration we all got down to practicing these basic SKIF drills by pairing up in groups and applying the various techniques at speed with our partners. Here Sempai Katharine, Daniel, and Karen take turns being the defender who applies these new found skills against two attackers.
Seeing is a way to understanding
On several occasions Kancho Kanazawa spent time with our group making sure that everyone understood even the smallest detail of each pattern. Here he offers Sempai Diane, Sempai Uwe, and Karen a closer look at how to pivot during an attack involving multiple opponents. His explanations and his movements certainly clarified several points and greatly assisted all of us to grasp the when, the how, and the why of each technique.
Our book signing
My first karate teacher, Sensei Sam McGee, looks on as Kancho Kanazawa took time during the mid-day break to sign our copies of his various books using his famous Mount Fuji signature. Our copies included his book, "Karate Fighting Techniques, The Complete Kumite" that was first published in 2004. In addition he also very kindly took the time to write a thoughtful phrase along side his autograph which was greatly appreciated by all of us.
Sempai Diane during kata
The afternoon was devoted to the kata Hangetsu. Kancho Kanazawa went into great detail regarding proper stances, hand and body positioning, as well as timing. In addition he paid particular attention to the proper method of breathing while performing this kata, something that is often overlooked by many karate-ka. Thought by many students to be a very simple and easy kata to perform because of the use of sanchin dachi, as opposed to the longer and lower zenkutsu dachi, the intricacies of this kata are often overlooked even by senior ranks.
Sempai Uwe
Even with braces on his knees Sempai Uwe participated in each aspect of the three days of training. A dedicated karate-ka and main stay of our dojo he always sets a good example for others to follow and this weekend was no exception, well done Sempai.
Along side a familiar face
It had been more than 25 years since I last spent time on the dojo floor with Sensei Doug Rathy seen here on my left side, but it very quickly seemed like only yesterday. Scheduled for knee surgery shortly after this camp was over I never the less enjoyed myself immensely, in spite of having to set severe limits on my speed and turns.
Empi kata
Seen here are Sempai Mark Deugau, San Dan, from Nanaimo and Sempai Katharine Kaye, Ni Dan, from Victoria, who both stepped onto the floor to demonstrate the kata, Empi, when Kancho Kanazawa called for volunteers. Mark has Competed at the B.C. Winter Games and at Karate BC Provincial Championshipsm as well as overseas, while Katharine is a past competitor on several occasions at the Annual Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association World Championships held in Las Vegas.
A lesson in the finer points
Both students were excellent examples for those in attendance to watch, never the less Kancho Kanazawa took the opportunity at various points throughout the kata to make minor corrections, and to talk about why these adjustments were important. The depth of his karate knowledge is virtually unparalleled and it was a great pleasure to listen to him as he discussed even the smallest detail.
Party Time
On the Saturday evening Sensei Doug Rathy kindly opened his home to all of the participants for a barbeque and the well attended event allowed all of us to get to know each other a little better in a less formal setting.
A light moment
Sensei Nobuaki and Sensei McGee, shared a laugh with us as they listened to my conversation with Kancho Kanazawa regarding age and karate-do. For me it was the best moment of the weekend, in this brief moment in time there was no rank, we were simply two karate-ka taking great pleasure in a shared moment about a life long common interest.
The end of a great weekend
The weekend ended far to quickly. A group photo preserved the moment on the last day, and the knowledge gained by all of us will last for many, many years to come.
Gift Giving
Sempai Katharine assisted me as we presented gifts to Kancho Kanazawa and Sensei Nobuaki on behalf of the members of our dojo in appreciation of their time and their knowledge and for the manner in which it was so freely given, this made for a most memorable event indeed.
In closing I must thank my former teacher, Sensei Sam McGee, my first Sempai, Sensei Nairn Semple, as well as the other members of the Nanaimo Shotokan Karate Club for hosting this event and the Saturday evening barbeque and for making all of us feel so welcome. Lastly I wish to thank my students who joined me this past weekend, your energy and your desire to learn makes my personal journey down the Shotokan road that much more enjoyable - domo arigato gozaimasu.
Part the clouds - see the way.
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay