The 5th Zanshin Martial Arts Association International Masters Seminar took place on Sunday 14th October at Huddersfield Sports Centre with over 240 people attending.
This course, as all Zanshin arranged courses, are open to non-members and it was gratifying to see so many new faces as well as the usual stalwarts.
It was the usual eclectic mix of masters, Dave Allen (Head of Zanshin) does manage to get interesting blends together and makes it run to schedule.
To me it’s like being given the keys to a sweet shop, you can go round and try this, try that, try something you might be reluctant to pay a full course fee for but just fancied a ‘taster’. It’s normal when writing these articles to put in glowing reports of the various masters as they do charge for their services and we all want to think we get the best but these really were top level people.
I must admit, what I do is send groups of my students to train with different masters and then we meet up next training night and go through what we can remember, keep what fits and bin the rest, that way our art grows and we all get the benefits.
Sensei Sakagami (7th Dan Wado Ryu) ran the Karate side of things along with Keith Walker and kept the students active and motivated all day. I tend to just sit and watch rather than take part, that way I can work out where the master’s feet are going rather than concentrating on all the techniques, because for me Sensei is still the subtlest of movers.
The other half of the Sports Centre was divided into three matted areas and up stepped the first three instructors. I think you would have to go a long way to find three more different teachers all showing their stuff at the same time.
At the far end of the room Steve Costello (7th Dan Rukyu Kempo and Kobudo) demonstrated some amazing things with walking sticks, yes, walking sticks! If the reports from my students are to be believed (and we have not had time to go through the bits yet) then this could be very interesting indeed especially as I’m nearer walking stick age than them.
Just up the room was the venerable Josh Johnson (7th Dan Karate and 5th Dan Kobudo) with his Okinawan weapons, using the same idea but from a more classical viewpoint. The students I took who want to use the bo as their weapon of choice in their next grade made such progress that I’m thinking of getting Josh to travel to the wilds of Cumbria so we can all learn some more.
Dave (It’s the Truth) Turton (7th Dan Street Combat and Escrima and 10th Dan Nasty Bd) was his usual ebullient self (look it up, Dave) and he is always a joy to meet and train with.
In answer to those nit-pickers who go on about Thug Jitsu and Yob Karate and ‘where is the art in biting, ripping and gouging?’, well all I can say is they never had to make it work outside. Yes, we all like to be graceful and elegant but when I was ‘minding’ on the racecourses I always remembered KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.
I trained (and still do) to just stop the attack, then do whatever is right to finish it. Also let us not lose track of where our martial arts came from or why they were codified in the first place, they were designed to fight, with throwing, striking and kicking just some of the means to disable your enemy.
I’ve seen some good instructors over the years but the sight of Dave hitting an assailant – then hitting him harder because he wasn’t knocked out enough – will stay with me for a while. Nice one, Dave.
Dirk Hoffman-MacGregor (Germany) and his Sport-Nunchaku-Do Deutschland was brilliant. I was lucky enough to get Dirk to teach a couple of my advanced students and they came back raving about fighting with nunchaku, so much so that we are talking about having a special training night just for this.
Zanshin Martial Arts International, the only English association recognised by SNDD, will be putting on a series of courses next year to get students ready for national and international competition. More of this later.
After the break Mr Sakagami once more took his place with the Karate students, the only problem being he kept finding some new aspect of his
Karate he wanted to put across and time was running out. However because of his intrinsic niceness no one wanted to be the one to say his time was up and the next instructor was due on.
The greatest revelation however came from the visiting foreign instructors – OK I’ll hold my hand up and say I’m not a fan of their more stylised techniques and lack of contact but for those who like it -more power to you. Siggy Benkel and Salvatore Minnelli are nice blokes, great fun on a night out and very good technicians being both Jujitsu and Tae Kwon Do graded. It made a nice changed to watch some instructors out of the first flush of youth but still able to control their high kicks with great precision.
Tony Baker took a group of black belts into the combat room for an advanced session and from the sound of the screams it seemed enlightening.