Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back From The Iha Dojo National Training Seminar

From Friday until now I was over in Lansing, Michigan for the Iha Dojo Karate National Training Seminar. I found out I made the promotional card with a photo of the seminar from last year, which is kinda cool.

The seminar is three days of karate instruction, meeting friends both new and old from a number of dojos around the country and the world, and having a good time doing so. There was a strong showing of contingents from the New York, New Jersey and the Canadian Dojos this year.

This year it was held at the Lansing Convention Center so we were right in downtown Lansing with many restaurants and bars in easy walking distance. This would be useful during lunch breaks and after the classes ended.

The convention floor was concrete with a thin layer of carpet over it, which made break-falling particularly exciting, especially the fall in Passai Sho Bunkai where you have to do a forward roll as the person in the center of the bunkai pulls your arm forward and throws you via that leverage after you punch towards them with that arm. It was fine as long as you were careful and everyone was paying attention.

Before each session started everyone would meet and socialize while they were warming up.

Sensei Iha (10th Dan) or Sensei Barker (9th Dan), his Sampai or senior student, would lead the training, and we worked on kata, bunkai and partnership drills. Careful attention was paid to body mechanics, typically keeping ones elbows in among other things, turning on one's axis and proper movement, balance, and weight shifting.

Here's a shot of Sensei Iha (10th Dan) or Sensei Barker (9th Dan) and Sensei Menders (8th Dan - in the red and white striped belt)

Sensei Iha at over 80 years old is not only still sharper than a tack but also in amazing physical shape. Sensei Barker, in his late 70s, can similarly deliver a kick that can send you into a neighboring state, or a punch so focused with all their power and body behind it that your ancestors will feel it. It's a good thing they're both wonderfully nice and peaceful individuals with a great amount of patience and a love of teaching karate, and we're very lucky to have them both.

This morning Sensei Iha for example demonstrated on a 6th Degree black belt the concepts of axis and was able to show that with punch throw at him he can basically control the attacker's movements and put him wherever he wants, typically ending with a thud. We then learned these applications and commenced to locking up an opponent once they punched at various angles (hiugh, low, middle) and then (gently) throwing them and vice-versa.

All this physical work creates a powerful thirst so last night the memebrs of my dojo headed to the Midtown Brewing Co.

They had a decent list of beers:

When asked which of them we wanted to drink, the answer was yes, and yes it was so.

Dinner was served.

Oh, I also had a black and blue burger that was awesome, but back to the beer.

The sample included a Hopwood Double IPA with a 9% alcohol content. Barrel-aged it was excellent going down and then hit like a ton of bricks. The other IPAs were also quite good, as were the amber ales. The best by far however was the All Night Long Coffee Stout. The stout had a rich taste of coffee but was not bitter nor over-sweet and was an excellent beer to finish up the time at the restaurant.

We then met up with yet more karateka wandering Lansing's streets and then headed to the hotel bar for some fine sipping whiskeys before calling it a night.

I was awoken at 2:30 am by some idiots in the next room not from our seminar who had got back from the bars and were yelling and carrying on. Finally they shut up around 3:30 or so and I was able to get some sleep. Since I had to be up at 7 to meet up with the other people from my dojo for breakfast and then get ready for an early morning for today's seminar, my alarm was set. Completely fortuitously, the alarm ended up being located right beside the adjoining wall from whence last night's rudeness came, and it went off loudly and I sadly in the rush of the moment forgot to turn it off for some time. I may have also banged into the wall a few times getting ready, how clumsy of me.

After today's morning session we all changed, checked out of the hotel and went to the celebratory banquet and then headed home.

It was great seeing a lot of friends from prior seminars and training with lots of different people, most of them with much greater experience than I, and learning some very neat new (to me) techniques.


Old NFO said...

Outstanding! :-) And I've been 'clumsy' like that a time or two myself... :-)

Aaron said...

Thanks! It was a great seminar, and my clumsiness has since resolved.... :-)

Mcgyver said...

Sounds like you had fun. My karate instructor, Grandmaster Jim Martin, recently died at the age of 70 something. He was a 10th degree gruff old exfireman. He had been shocked back to life following a heart attack and continued to train and fight for years afterwards. It was something to watch that old guy beat fighters generations younger than himself.