Choose a Kata Friday - Jitte
Friday 29th March 2013
Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre
The second of the Choose a Kata Friday nights took place on Friday 29th March with Matt Russell selection Jitte as his chosen kata. This is a preview of the night with a few photos of Matt performing the kata with Matt's review of the night to follow.
More pictures from this session can be found under the media section's Flickr albums here
An interview with
Sensei Cyril Cummins
Interviewed by Steve O'Reilly 2nd Dan
at the Halesowen Dojo on Tuesday 5th March 2013
Over the years, you have trained thousands of fellow karate ka, visiting many different countries. What do you consider to be your most memorable experience over this time?
"Taking my 5th Dan examination at Crystal Palace under the Japanese Sensei. It was a very very hard grading and I prepared for it all the week by training every day with the Japanese Sensei. So at the end of the week I took the grading and I passed it."
How do you think karate has changed over the years that you have been training and teaching?
"Traditional Karate goes on and on forever and there are many other types of martial arts coming out now like mixed martial arts etc. but traditional karate goes on and on."
What is your favourite Kata to perform and why?
" I don't have any favourite Kata. All Kata are important and so I practise them all."
As one of your students, I have always been amazed by your vast knowledge of the history and origins of karate. How did you gain all of this knowledge?
"Research and training. Thinking about it and working out the bunkai etc. A lot of research!!
Choose a Kata Friday - Nijushiho
Friday 1st March 2013
Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre
On the 1st of March Sensei Cummins, 7th dan dedicated the session at Nuffield Health Centre in Rubery to my choice of kata, Nijushiho. The course was open to all grades and karate students from different clubs and Sensei Cummins adapted the session to the kyu grades that attended the lesson. The attendees were of mixed ability and a mixture of grades but Sensei Cummins ensured everybody felt welcome and left feeling like they had learnt something new.
My preparation for this session involved me studying the kata prior to the course at home and at other lessons. I had basic knowledge of the kata and was able to complete it, getting direction, application of strikes and blocks correct although I did not have a vast amount of knowledge about the kata.
The session started by a vigorous warm up where Sensei Cummins had us running around the dojo, changing direction and styles of running. Afterwards Sensei Cummins allowed us time to stretch, where he taught us new ways of improving our flexibility by showing us methods we could use to stretch our leg muscle in preparation for training. Sensei Cummins then talked for a short period of time about the origin of the kata and its previous name. He also translated the name Nijushiho to English to inform us of what it means, kata of the 24 movements/steps. He also explained to us how the kata is like a flowing river, very soft and is able to find a way around any obstacle.
Sensei Cummins then showed us a few of the opening movements and then invited us to join him, he taught slowly and consistently meaning that all of us could focus on each movement and so that the kyu grades were able to follow to. Sensei Cummins also talked through the bunkai whilst demonstrating each technique. After showing and going through the opening movements of the kata with us, Sensei Cummins then continued on to the end of the kata continuing to inform us of the bunkai and what each movement could potentially be used for. After talking through the bunkai Sensei Cummins then demonstrated each block and strike with myself, he told us in-depth how each movement can be used and allowed us a chance to ask questions where he answered thoroughly.
Sensei Cummins then spoke about his personal training and when he learnt the kata, which was very interesting as he was taught in a very different way to us. When the sempai, Austin Birks arrived Sensei Cummins told us all to take a seat as he performed the kata from start to finish. I was so intrigued by the way he demonstrated the kata, so passionate and strong. I could tell when Sensei Cummins was performing the kata that he felt each movement and in his mind he was applying the bunkai.
There was another question and answer session after Sensei Cummins's performance of Nijushiho, where we were able to question the kata and ask any questions we were unsure of or didn't ask earlier in the session. Sensei Cummins and sempai then completed the entire kata with bunkai so we were able to see how each move would be applied from different attacks. I found this very interesting as I had much more understanding of the kata and much more understanding of the bunkai.
The course was coming to an end when Sensei Cummins gave us all a chance to perform Nijushiho. I feel that when I was doing the kata I was able to apply the bunkai to the moves in my head which meant I could feel the flow of the kata as I completed it. Sensei Cummins then called us all together and told us how we could each improve our kata and again a chance to answer any questions.
After attending this session I feel that I now know Nijushiho and if asked about the bunkai I would be able to give my opinion. The session was informative and interesting. As well as learning a lot of in-depth information about the kata, I enjoyed the course and felt it was very educational and I have again furthered my knowledge of a new kata and I will continue to perform Nijushiho and practise the bunkai. I look forward to the next 'choice of kata course'.
Christie Price (1st Dan - 02/03/13)
An interview with
Sensei Cyril Cummins
By Yvonne Skalban 6th Kyu
How did you first get into karate?
I killed someone! (laughs) No, I saw a film called "Mondo Cane". It's a film about different rituals in different countries, for example, the Ghurkas cutting the head off an ox with a single blow, and, of course, the Japanese sensei have always inspired me, seeing Kanazawa sensei performing tameshiwari, breaking wood, in early 1964.
Was there ever a point where you thought about quitting karate?
No, not really. Obviously it's something that goes through your mind sometimes, but you just shrug it off. You know, everybody thinks that at some point about work and everything else, that's normal. But no, I wouldn't have quit and if I had, I wouldn't be here for you now!
One of the things I love about training is that the advice you give us often applies in everyday situations, the best example being "Never give up, never give in". If I have a bad day, that's what I remind myself of and then I feel stronger and more optimistic again. Has karate done the same for you?
Oh, definitely. If I am teaching it and saying it, I am going to have to believe it. Enoeda Sensei always told us that. Never give up, never give in.
Is there any other advice you have for us karateka, maybe something that has helped you personally?
Always be focussed on what you are doing. And try your best. Karate can be very hard sometimes, but you must keep going. Hence, never give up, never give in!
What is the best and the worst memory of your karate career?
The best and the worst? That's hard to say, there have been so many things over the last 50 years! I think one of the highlights was achieving my 5th Dan. It was just after the national championships at Crystal Palace. And the examiners were the top Japanese instructors, including Master Enoeda. I don't have any bad memories, really! I guess the only thing is the injuries.
Thank you very much for the interesting interview, Sensei! Oss!
Bo and Tonfa Course
Friday 1st February 2013
Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre
On Friday the second bo and tonfa course to be held at the Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre in Rubery with Sensei Cyril Cummins 7th dan took place. This time the course was open to all clubs and associations which resulted in even more karateka gaining the opportunity to learn these weapons. The course was very well attended with the hall filled to capacity for the use of weapons with attendees from both BHSKC and other clubs and associations of all grades from beginners to senior black belt instructors. Like last time the course was enjoyed by all and again many requested that another be held. The attendance of the course was again mixed with some who had attended previous bo courses or the last bo and tonfa course but a sizeable number who had never used either.
What follows are some reviews of the course from different attendees at varying stages of their karate and weapons experience and the different perspectives these provide :-
First here is my brief mini review of the second course as someone who has done karate for many years but has only used the bo a few times in the past and the tonfa for the first time during the previous course. A review of the first course can be found here.
Preparation for the course started for me earlier that day when I was packing my karate bag before work. I picked up my tonfa and couldn't resist the urge to make a few strikes and half swivels before packing them away and then hefting the bo and giving it a quick swing before putting it next to the karate gear. Suffice to say I was really looking forward to another opportunity to use them both. I'll confess right now that despite my best intentions I hadn't really practised the bo since the first course and so was struggling to remember the bo kata, shushi no kon and hoped that when we started doing it again later that evening it would all come back to me.
The evening eventually came and the time for the course was upon us. After a general warm up, those who didn't have bo or tonfa were provided some to use and the course started with an introduction to the bo. This served as a good refresher for myself and others and a nice introduction for those who had never used one before, initially covering basic strikes and blocks and then concentrating on some of the more complicated moves from sections of the kata. Having now used the bo a few times I felt reasonably comfortable doing most of these although still was a little unsure when it came to the breakdown of some of the kata segments. Next it was the bo kata, shushi no kon, sensei Cummins briefly explained the origins of the kata and the meaning of the name before leading the class through the kata to the count, stopping to explain how to do various moves and correct people as he went. This was repeated a few times until the majority felt reasonably comfortable with the kata and the use of the bo. Finally sensei Cummins invited those who thought they could do it all the way through to a reasonably fast count to try whilst the others watched. I must admit I was unsure but decided to give it a try. The count was slightly faster than I had expected but I was able to remember the kata for the most part and only stumbled a couple of times where I missed a block before a strike but was able to continue without losing my place in the kata and fortunately finished with the correct move facing the right direction (always a bonus when learning a new kata as many people have found out over the years) .
There was a brief informal question and answer session before we moved onto the tonfa. The tonfa training started with basic strikes and blocks with the tonfa which were generally ok, and quite intuitive as the tonfa even more so than the bo is used as an extension of normal karate techniques. However I personally struggled as others seemed to when it came to the swivelling blocks and strikes. Sensei Cummins organised the class into a semi circle to demonstrate how this was done and had some of the seniors more familiar with how to use these help others to grasp this. Sensei Cummins explained the origins of the Tonfa and how these were used along with the bo in Okinawa before we moved onto basic sparring involving the kumite and the bo. This involved dealing with overhead strikes first with a simply rising block with the tonfa followed by a strike with the short end, sensei emphasising the need to push away the bo after the block so that the attacker couldn't counter-strike. This then proceeded to more complicated cross blocks first with the short ends and then the long ends with a swivel and swivelling strikes. The last attack was a thrusting stab with the end of the bo which had to be blocked with the tonfa and immediately countered so that the attacker couldn't switch attack. All of these were done on both the left and right sides with everybody alternating being the attacker with the bo and defender with the tonfa. The above exercises were far more difficult than they sound with the need to get the timing exactly right in order to successfully block and counter before the attacker could respond and make effective swivelling strikes and blocks. I ended up on the wrong end of the bo a few times whilst doing these. Unfortunately at that point the class ended as the time had just flown past.
It was a really good course that I found very informative and enjoyable plus it was nice to meet the people from other clubs who we may hopefully see at future events. I find that the use of weapons such as the bo really help to enhance my understanding of karate especially when you consider kata such as bassai sho and jitte which contain many movements for defending against a bo. I would recommend that any karateka who has the opportunity learn to use these weapons take it as it does enhance your karate. Weapons are not taught at many karate schools so I really enjoy the chance to learn these and look forward to the next weapons class in the future.
Richard A. (Sandan, BHSKC - 03/02/2013)
Yet another amazing Bo and Tonfa course, with Sensei Cummins on Friday 1st February.
This is the third or fourth weapons course I have attended, and I'm still getting to grips with the basics! However, I'm happy to say that after a bit of practice on Friday, I managed to complete the Bo Kata - Shushi No Kon. It's finally starting to sink in!
My favourite part of the evening (and of any course of this nature) was Sensei Cummins giving us more information about the history, origins and usage of the weapons. Knowing the application is great, but the history of all aspects of Karate fascinates me, so when we gather round to share in his knowledge, I'm always really pleased!
So after practising the Kata and learning some background and history, we did some basic drills to get accustomed to the weapons, before being let loose on each other!! It's great to practise with the Bo whilst your partner works with the Tonfa and vice versa. It gives a good insight into both weapons and their application as both attacking devices and defence.
Sensei asked again at the end of the session if we enjoyed the course and would like to do more, no doubt in my mind - the answer is YES!!
Already looking forward to the next one and hoping I can remember Shushi No Kon...no count!
Holly W. (1st Kyu Ho, BHSKC - 03/02/2013)
We began the course by practising techniques used for attacking and defending against opponents. Focus was on footwork, hand placements on the bo and aiming strikes. Sensei then took us through the kata, we spent time practising the kata using the techniques we had just been practising.
I have done two of these in the past and this kata is really starting to make sense. It is not an easy kata especially with a weapon in your hands but it is a fantastic kata that I am excited about doing again in the next weapons course. We had a demonstration from the more senior students and it is inspiring and encouraging to see others who have got the moves show the rest of us that we will be able to get it soon and we just have to keep practising.
After practising a few more times we had some history from Sensei. I really enjoy being taught about the history of Karate, the weapons and the kata, I always find it fascinating to know the origin of the weapon and how it was used in the past.
We moved onto practising techniques with Tonfa. I find this weapon even harder to use but spinning the Tonfa around feels really quite powerful, so I am planning to practice so I can do it better on the next course. We practised blocks and strikes independently before pairing up with a fellow student for blocking and countering attacks from the Bo.
Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable course where we learned so much about the different weapons and how to use them to defend ourselves. I really hope I have the time and space to practise before the next course which I am hoping happens very soon. Big thank you to Sensei for putting the course on for us.
Emily P. (7th Kyu, BHSKC - 06/02/13)
A Mini Review
Friday 30th November 2012
Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre
The Bo and Tonfa course took place on Friday at the Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centre and was thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended with many requests for another course to be held in the future made on the same day. The attendance for the course was good with a mixture of those who had used the Bo on previous courses and not the Tonfa and those who had used neither in attendance. For those unfamiliar this dojo it is located inside the gym complex upstairs. It is a moderately sized room with a sprung wooden floor, air conditioning and one of the walls is completely mirrored from the floor to the ceiling.
What follows is my mini review of the evening as someone who has used the Bo a handful of times on a few occasions in the past and never used the tonfa :-
The evening started with an introduction to basic techniques with the Bo including sweeping and stabbing strikes and blocks to help everyone get a feel of using the Bo. Next came the Tonfa with upper, inside and outside blocks and strikes with the edge of the tonfa along the forearm and the ends along with swivelling strikes and stabs. Using the tonfa to me felt a lot like a simple extension of standard karate techniques such as the inside and outside blocks and rising block, straight and reverse punches making their use far more intuitive than one might expect. The swivelling action however was something new having to hold the handles of the tonfa loose enough to swivel without them flying out of your hand and into the mirrors fortunately nobody lost control and the mirrors lived to see another day.
With people now a little familiar with the weapons we returned to the Bo and started with a break down of some of the key sequences in the Bo kata Shushi No Kon that we would soon be learning. Once these had been examined we moved on to the kata itself slowly building up the sequences until we had completed the whole kata and the class was able to perform the kata to a fast count.
Next up came the kumite with the class splitting into pairs to learn how to defend against the Bo with the Tonfa. First it was defending from an overhead strike with the Bo on the right hand side and then blocking with an upper block using the Tonfa against the forearm and counter striking with the edge tonfa across the throat. Once we were comfortable with this we then switched weapons so that both sides had a chance to attack and defend with the Bo and Tonfa. The key to this was to ensure that after the block you used the tonfa to push away and maintain control of the bo so the attacker couldn't return with a counter.Just as you were beginning to think that this wasn't too bad then came the twist, do the same thing but on the left side, all of a sudden blocking the Bo and getting in the counter suddenly became a lot harder.
Next we moved on to defending from a stabbing attack with the bo, by using the tonfa to block the attack whilst simultaneously evading the strike and then almost instantly countering with the same hand before delivering the finishing blow with the reverse hand using the end of the tonfa. This was done whilst close to the attacker so you had very little time to get your body out of the way of the strike and get your initial counter strike in rapidly followed by the finishing blow before the attacker could respond. This was a lot harder than it sounded with my partners and I ending up on the wrong end of the tip of the bo on more than one occasion. This was done on both the right and left sides for each pair.
We then returned to Shushi No Kon for a final run through and then had a question and answer session to clarify any points from the kata or kumite before our time was up and the session had to end.
I personally really enjoyed the session and thought that the use of the weapons complemented karate training very well and helps provide some insight into some of the Shotokan kata and others expressed similar opinions after the session.
I hope you enjoyed my mini review and I would definitely recommend coming the next time there is another weapons class. In my experience not many karate schools cover the use of these weapons but they do add a new dimension to your training.
Richard A. (Sandan, BHSKC - 02/12/2012)