Wednesday, 24 October 2012

JKS England Autumn Technical Seminar with Yamaguchi Sensei (7th Dan JKS) - DAY 2

Morning lesson (10 am - 12 pm)

Yamaguchi Sensei (JKS 7th Dan)


The main focus of this lesson was on stances. Focusing on the correct knee position, weight distribution and compression. We also focused on the hanme position when stepping forward and back.

One of the exercises to make sure we kept compression in our stances was to go from front stance (weight on front leg), to back stance (weight on back leg), to kiba dachi weight in the middle), to back stance (weight on back leg) then back to front stance again (weight on front leg). We also covered an exercise working on neko ashi dachi:


The kata's we went through were Gojushiho Sho and Gojushiho Dai. We went through the Kata to count with Yamaguchi Sensei watching, then again with Sensei going through the Kata with us, then finishing with a demonstration by Yamaguchi Sensei (giving us technical feedback and things to change/work on). The following are key points to work on that I picked up at the time in bullet point form;

  • The empi goes directly in.
  • Squeeze shomen to hanme on the turning block.
  • On the nukites strike inside the line of the other hand.
  • Haishu-uke (back hand strike/block) for the first block in kiba dachi in Gojushiho Sho.
  • Haiwan-uke (forearm block/strike) for the second block in kiba dachi in Gojushiho Sho.
  • Haito-uke (ridge of hand block) for both blocks in kiba dachi in Gojushiho Dai.

Please watch the following links to gain many more technical points than the short few mentioned above;

Gojushiho Sho demonstration
Yamaguchi Sensei in action

Gojushiho Dai
Kata Bunkai
Scott Langley Sensei (JKS 5th Dan)

The key theme of Scott Sensei's lesson was teaching us to use our seichosen (centre) line to move- to stop excess movement, like jumping, and to make both hips work.

Exercise 1:
For example, one the exercises was to punch choku zuki in kiba dachi landing facing 180 degrees facing the opposite side. The key was to drive the punching side hip forward and the hikite side back, keeping a low centre of gravity to spin behind as you punch. Emphasis was on NOT to jump! See the following link for the video of the exercise; Moving from the centre - Scott Sensei

Exercise 2:
Gedan berai 45 degrees backwards, punch gyaku zuki. Drive front hip forward and back hip back to return to kamae. Keeping a low centre of gravity and feet connected to the floor. Again, NO jumping up! Feeling of compression. Here's another video; Keeping Seichosen line to return to kamae - Scott Sensei. This exercise was then progressed onto 1-step kumite; 1 step kumite, moving from the centre - Scott Sensei.

Course photo

Afternoon lesson (12.30 pm - 2.30 pm)

Yamaguchi Sensei (JKS 7th Dan)


Again Yamaguchi Sensei went through these kata's in precise detail. Picking out common mistakes we make but also the most minute details so that each technique is performed correctly. All kata's were watched first, then taught as both instructor and students practiced and finally ended with impressive demonstrations by Yamaguchi Sensei. Key points taught will be noted in bullet point form.

Kanku Sho

  • The first 3 moves - palms face down to twist in to the morote uke block and forearm snap to create the power.
  • Punch to uchi uke position is to escape a wrist lock/grab.
  • On the turn and grab before the mae geri - the supporting hand is flat so that the thumb doesn't get bent back (with the application being pulling the attacker onto the mae geri).
  • The second "jump" isn't a jump - you must keep a low centre of gravity when turning.

Bassai Sho

  • Start - hands are parallel on top of each other, not side by side.
  • Next move block behind then to the front in kosa dachi, with your head above the block so you can still see ahead. Kosa dachi is naturally 45 degrees of to the side.
  • Application to the turn, catch and pull in kokutsu dachi is catching a bo staff and pulling it away.
  • The turning scooping  open hand block into gedan berai - don't drop the weight bending knees too much, just natural transition.
  • Manji gamae - hand open to close.
  • Double ura zuki - make sure both hands come together when striking forward (jodan is a small target).
  • Turn ashi berai and jodan soto uke before both hands go to hikite, landing nihon zuki in kiba dachi.
  • Last 2 moves - double block then pull hands in (palms facing forwards finishing in neko ashi dachi).

Yamaguchi Sensei correcting my Bassai Sho

  • Yoi position in line with top of chest/neck.
  • First move hips aren't hanme, relaxed shomen position.
  • On the slow double block in shizentai - squeeze the inner thighs to bring you up to shizentai smoothly and controlled.
  • Manji gamae - hand open to closed.
  • Last age uke is more of an attack than a block.

Alan Campbell Sensei (JKS 6th Dan)


Heian Nidan with spinning on each step - to get us to relax our bodies to get more shoulder and hip snap.


Basic 1-step kumite - jodan, chudan and mae geri - the block is not the end move!

Soto uke exercise:

Attacker - JODAN attack (right hand)

Defender - step back with right leg
               - block right hand, then left hand and attack to their throat (soto uke preparation)

Attacker - punch chudan gyaku zuki

Defender - right hand block down

Attacker - punch chudan zuki

Defender - block soto uke

Attacker - punch chudan zuki

Defender - soto uke hand pulls to hikite to strike/block the attack whilst punching gyaku zuki trapping the attackers elbow then following it through to punch their face.

As you can see from these notes the course on this day was very informative and gave everyone something to take away to work on. Thanks to Scott Langley Sensei for recording parts of the course! Invaluable to have something to watch as well as read back after such an amazing course.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

JKS England Autumn Technical Seminar with Yamaguchi Sensei (7th Dan JKS) - DAY 1

From Friday 12th - Sunday 14th October 2012 JKS England were proud to host Takeshi Yamaguchi Sensei (7th Dan JKS) at the Autumn Technical Seminar in Nottingham, England. This was the first course in the UK Yamaguchi Sensei has taught since he came over to Dublin, Ireland in 2007. Needless to say the weekend course, which consisted of 10 hours of training, was thoroughly enjoyable & thought provoking. In this blog I will cover what was taught by Yamaguchi Sensei on the Friday night of the course.

"One of the best seminars we've had in many years!" Scott Langley Sensei
(5th Dan, JKS GB & Ireland Technical Director)

Me with Yamaguchi Sensei.

In the 2 hours of training on the Friday night Kihon, Kata and Kumite were covered.


The key teaching points or themes to this lesson was that you should be able to kime at any point of the technique - not just when the foot and hand are landing and finishing at the same time. Yamaguchi Sensei was keen to express that there are 5 sections of the body that you can use independently as well as at the same time - these were the head, body, hips, arms and legs.

  • When stepping forward into stance use your front hip to drive forward.
  • When stepping backwards into stance use your back hip to drive backwards.
    - Forward kizami, gyaku zuki in zenkutsu dachi - last punch and foot finish together, punch choku zuki to return to shizentai
    - Shuto uke (in kokutsu dachi) is the same principle.

    - In kiba dachi - mikazuki geri followed up with mawashi empi, returning back to tate shuto uchi uke.

    It was also stressed how important it was to use shoulder snap and to be relaxed when performing striking techniques. There were many various arm swinging exercises used to make us loosen up and relax our shoulders and arms. As well as this, Yamaguchi Sensei also stressed the importance of hip snap too. Once of the exercises for this was to twist the hips side to side. The hips makes the hands move - hips working independently from the upper body!


    Tekki Shodan

    Here are the key technical points Yamaguchi Sensei made clear about this Kata;

    - Start position, hands are in shuto position
    - First step is on the ball of the foot (koshi).
    - On the chudan haiwan uke the arm is straight and the leg swings up and over.
    - On the uchi uke's the hand goes directly back to the hip before blocking to chudan level.
    - Before the 2 kiai points; look (one count), double block (second count), look (third count), double block to the other side (fourth count) - hip twist maximum for the double blocks, also use the hips for the foot raises and move in with the strike.

    Tekki Nidan and Tekki Sandan were also covered by Yamaguchi Sensei going through more technical points. But for me it was more a case of refreshing my memory of these Kata's! Main thing I gained from this was a sense of humbleness that Kata can easily be forgotten if you don't practice them enough... So more work on all Kata in the future for me!


    We went through Kihon-Ippon Kumite at the end of the lesson, for the jodan, chudan, mae geri and mawashi geri attacks. First we were told to do one-step by our own count so that Yamaguchi Sensei could inspect our technique, movement and corrections that could be made. For defending jodan and chudan attacks we were told to make full preparation for the blocks and to step directly backwards. For mae geri and mawashi we were told to step backwards and off to an angle whilst blocking then counter.

    More advanced defending of mae geri attack would be to go directly forward with a kizami throat strike and gyaku zuki as you land into stance... to stop the attacker before they can get their kick off. For mawashi geri you would go directly forward and to the angle covering the kick before it's finished followed up with an open hand counter strike to the groin.

    Here is a short video, thanks to Scott Langley Sensei, of the Kihon-Ippon Kumite demonstrated by Yamaguchi Sensei;

    Soon I will be blogging about day 2 and day 3 of the technical seminar, thank you for taking the time to read this blog!


    Craig Williams (3rd Dan JKS)

    Monday, 15 October 2012

    Resurrecting the blog

    After training with Yamaguchi Sensei this weekend I think I'm going to start blogging again. Uploading course notes & thoughts on here and using this blog as a resource to refer to when planning my personal training and lessons I teach.