Karate Union of Great Britain
On Saturday 60-70 Brown Belts and 70-80 Black Belts attended the Deeside Black and Brown Belt Course and Grading.
Here the first class of brown belts are shown at the start of their session warming up under the direction of Sensei Sherry.
As usual the brown belts were divided into two groups. In the photo the grading group is shown being put through their basics by Sensei Rhodes. Palm-heel attack is being used directly following a reverse punch with snap back in order to prevent the target falling forward onto the attacker for example.
The second half of the lesson saw Sensei Rhodes instructing the other brown belt group on the kata Bassai Dai. The application of some important techniques in the kata was reviewed. Here, just before the downward thrust kick with Kiai the reverse hip is pushed forwards ready for the attack.

Since the photographer trained in the next session, unfortunately there are no photos to show of the instruction carried out in the black belt class. 50 of the black belt 2nd Dans and above (comprising several 6th Dans including Sensei Gary Harford and Sensei Jimmy Brennan) were instructed firstly by Sensei Sherry whilst the 30 Shodans were instructed by Sensei Rhodes. For the senior class, the training with Sensei Sherry involved partner target-practice for various techniques whilst on the move. Emphasis was placed on fast foot and leg work. For ushiro-geri good upper body balance and relaxation was required at the same time as leg speed and accuracy- not so easy to master. The senior Dan group were later instructed by Sensei Rhodes, who taught the kata Gojushiho-Dai. The complicated kata techniques were practiced several times, Sensei Rhodes showed methods of performing some of the techniques with mechanical advantages which made the performance of these moves much more fluent. At the end of the class there was time for some of Sensei Rhodes' application to this kata, although a rather complicated kata the essence of the techniques were put across well by practicing the moves on a partner.
For the shodan class, Sensei Rhodes had created a partner training combination involving body evasion, blocking, kicking and elbow attacks. The kumite combination ended with the students moving off to the side out of range, to quench any bad habits of repeatedly stepping backwards out of range. Sensei Sherry followed up by taking the shodan class through numerous kata. Nijushi-ho was worked on fairly rigorously followed by Jion and Hangetsu (that I managed to see).
The instructors received a much appreciated round of applause at the end of the session.

Congratulations to all those that were successful in the grading, their names shall be found on the KUGB website.


Between these dates Sensei Rhodes also taught at the Black and Brown Belt Courses and Gradings both at Barnsley and Deeside in 2005.


Group photo of Black Belt karateka who trained with Sensei Sherry and Sensei Rhodes at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre, Grantham on 6th November 2004.

 


Nearly 90 brown belts and 60 black belts congregated at Bath Leisure Centre on Sunday to be put through their paces by Sensei Sherry and Sensei Rhodes. Both the brown belt class and the black belt class were divided between those grading and not grading and given 45 minutes of instruction by each Sensei. This enabled the 3rd Dans to 6th Dans to have a class of their own. The class of brown belts shown below was divided into the 55 taking their shodan grading (upper karateka) and about 35 who had travelled to Bath only for the training (lower karateka). For course write-up please see below.

Congratulations to all those that were successful in the grading, their names can be found on the KUGB website.

Sensei Sherry instructing in the brown belts session, demonstrating morote jodan uke or 'upper level block with both hands', from the shodan grading kata Bassai-Dai.

The non-grading group were taken in detail through Bassai-Dai, excellent preparation for when their grading is due.

Sensei Rhodes demonstrating kizami zuki or 'jab punch' during the brown belts basics training.

The non-grading group were taken through a shodan combination adapted by Sensei Rhodes to increase in complexity finishing with a reverse uraken-uchi or 'back-fist strike', one of Sensei Rhodes' favourite techniques.

Sensei Sherry taking the time to explain in detail the grasping hand in two handed grasping block position from Bassai-Dai, ryo sho tsukami uke. Don't try and say that too quickly without warming up first!

In the black belt session, the 3rd Dans and above were given their own training session, with each instructor.

Here Sensei Rhodes is teaching Gankaku and demonstrating migi jodan uchi uke kamae, hidari gedan-gamae or 'right-hand upper level block, lower level block to the left'.

Some of the kata techniques were then used in a special Sensei Rhodes bunkai combination which the karateka practised in pairs.

Course Write-Up By R. Hicks, 4th Dan and Senior Instructor Bath Karate Club

One of the many changes undergone by the KUGB during the past – eventful – year is the way in which the Black and Brown belt courses are run. The course in Bath was the first one of the ‘new style’ that I have been on, and here are some details and thoughts on it.

In the first session, the Brown belts were divided into two groups – those who would be taking their 1st Dan later that day and those who were just there for the training. The session started off with Sensei Sherry taking those who would be grading, while Sensei Rhodes took the other group. Half way through the session Sensei Sherry and Rhodes changed groups. This seems to be a particularly good way to run the brown belt session – people taking a grading a few hours later can only realistically be ‘fine tuned’ at best. Even so, the right words of encouragement from such senior instructors can have a big impact on the confidence and state of mind of those about to grade. Those taking their Dan grade at some time in the future can have any potential ‘deficiencies’ pointed out, with the relevant advice, so they can work to improve these points ready for their own grading. I spoke to many of the Brown belts later in the day and everyone was very positive about the new format. It all seemed more tailored to the specific needs of both groups.
The Dan grades were split according to grade – 1st and 2nd Dans in one group and 3rd Dans and above in the other. Again, this was a well-thought out split, as only people in the former group would be eligible to grade on this course.

In the Black belt class, Sensei Sherry started off with the higher Dan grades. The first part of his session concentrated on various punching exercises, in pairs. The emphasis was on timing, hip speed and footwork. I have seen a lot of articles in various magazines that ‘prove’ that snap punches are neither powerful nor effective. However, one only has to watch Sensei Sherry perform this ‘simple’ technique to appreciate just how effective it is. Better still is to be on the receiving end of one – the feeling is of being hit by a fast-moving piston which, fortunately, stops on skin contact – in which case you develop an intuitive understanding of the power behind it. The ‘secret’ is in the precise timing and perfect co-ordination, with the whole body working together, along with a kime that is measured in milliseconds – and yes, being a physicist, I do know what a millisecond is. The theory seems easy enough … Kicks were then covered with the same emphasis – precise hip timing to produce power, coupled with the appropriate footwork to put oneself in range. Again, relatively easy to understand, very difficult to master.

Meanwhile, Sensei Rhodes was taking the other group through some of the grading combinations; first as an exercise in its own right and then in pairs. This is one of Sensei Rhodes’ great strengths – applying basic techniques in kumite exercises. It adds depth and meaning to the kihon we practise, and makes one realise that these combinations could be made to work against an opponent, given the right timing, distance and ‘line’.

As with the Brown belt session, the instructors ‘changed ends’ at half time. Sensei Rhodes took the senior Dan grades through some pair work. As with all top instructors, he makes the exercise look easy, straightforward and flowing. After a while, and once I had sorted out the correct timing and distance, I managed to make it look …. well, I’ll work on it. After that, we went through the Kata Gankaku. The first time was just to refresh our memories, after which Sensei Rhodes emphasised a few details to keep in mind on the next go. We then went through it again with more power and speed, while trying to keep the same precise technique. After that, we were in to Sensei Rhodes’ great specialty – bunkai or application of kata techniques. He puts a lot of thought into this aspect of his training/instruction, and I am always amazed by his ingenuity. There is often the “oh yes, I never thought of it that way” element. This is a always a valid exercise in its own right, because it does make you think about the appropriate line, power and timing of the technique – “what is this move for?”. It is particularly important for people taking 4th Dan or above, where the explanation of kata is a requirement of the grading. To finish off the session, we went through the kata again at full speed, with the emphasis back on correct technique – no bits as in the bunkai. The session ended with both groups coming together for the final ‘rei’.

I must admit that I like this new format – it reminds me of training on the Lancaster or Torbay course. The session somehow seems longer (and that’s a good thing?), with more material covered and more to take away and work on. It just seems more special. One of the great strengths of the KUGB is the great depth and diversity of our ‘top-flight’ instructors and we must remember just how lucky we are. I make no comment about other organisations. - R. Hicks, Bath Shotokan Karate Club