Taster Session at Wilmslow High School 17 & 18 May 2018

Thursdays session consisted 160 mixed pupils who seemed to want to make a lot of noise as they came in.
We had them sat down in a semi-circle facing the back wall of the hall so that we could explain the lesson and some terminology, specifically “Yame” to keep some order!
We demonstrated Gohon Kumite, Kihon Kumite and a taste of Jiyu Ippon.
As the demonstration progressed I explained etiquette in bowing, zanshin awareness, breathing and kiai.
Next we got everyone on their feet and took a good few minutes to make four straight lines, then went through a variety of exercises and some stances as in a regular karate lesson. The surprising thing was how quickly they caught on with the counting in Japanese.
After warming up, we progressed to basic techniques of punching and blocking, broken down to the count and kiai at the end of each set. I’ve never heard a noise like it!
They really liked kiai-ing.
In groups we went through the basic techniques whilst stepping. The majority seemed to get this quickly having been shown the arm movements already. There was quite a mix of abilities and motivations, most responded exceptionally well with the challenging coordination of feet and hands.
Having achieved some success in passing on the basics, we eventually formed lines of eight, in teams, for a slalom race with five punches at the end and kiai signalling the next student to start the slalom. A bit of pushing and shoving later, amidst a cacophony of shouts and kiai’s, there was a winning team and we ran it again. Once the noise died down we formed the semi-circle again and demonstrated some more technique and had a question/answer session.
After this, everyone stood up, bowed with “Oss!” and the session ended.
Friday dawned after the Thursday evening club lesson and we started training before the students came in with some Gi Jiyu Ippon.
What a difference a day makes… The first class came in with barely a sound and lined up on the floor and sat down!
Eventually the whole of the other groups arrived and we got everyone gathered in a semi-circle for an introductory talk and demonstration of everything they would be doing in the class.
We were pre-warned that there were some students who already did karate and I began formulating a plan for them later.
Based on Thursdays experience, I led the exercises with instructors following so the whole hall could see. This worked as well as expected and the warm up was extended as there was plenty of time in hand on the Thursday.
With the students all in lines, it made sense to keep them there and go straight into punching, blocking and kicking in a static position, all kiai-ing after 5 and 10 counts. Again, the noise was incredible.
Once they got the hang of what to do with their arms, I decided not to split them up and keep the lines so that they could try stepping and punching.
They got it right away, again counting along with Ichi, ni, san, etc…
I took a bit of a punt and introduced Gyaku Tszuki after Age Uke. No problem. Kizami Tzuki, Gyaku Tzuki. Again, no problem. Kizami Geri, Kizami Tzuki, Gyaku Tzuki combination… Easy.
They were absorbing it like sponges.
Eventually I called a halt and went into the slalom race from Thursday. We ran this twice and then formed a large circle with instructors in the middle. We demonstrated synchronised kata and showed Gi Jiyu Ippon no.1 to an amazed audience. Brian and Gerry did Heian Shodan as the first kata the student would learn, then myself and Mike did Heian Godan, using all the basic techniques they had just done. Gerry and Brian did Gi Jiyu Ippon a couple of times to count and medium speed, with commentary to explain what was going on. Then Mike and I put a bit of fizz into it.
Two students who had already done karate were brought into the middle to demonstrate all we had gone over in the class, then were paired up with a dan grade for Gohon Kumite. There were some style differences, but they got the message to attack instantly! They did really well and deserved the round of applause the rest of the school gave them.
The Q&A session worked well in the circle format with some interesting questions. Finally they all stood up, bowed, “Oss” and filed out.
All in all, a very successful couple of days and great exposure for the club, SKKIF and Kanazawa Ryu Karate.

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