This past week wrapped up our summer season at Springburn Academy after a hugely enjoyable couple of months. Much of the training looked at movement, both standing and on the ground. As I have mentioned before, I struggle with my movement when parrying to this sounded like it would be particularly useful.
The classes started with an energetic warm-up, and with some of the summer's humid evenings, it wasn't long until the sweat was flying.
After that we built on the movement skills. This would begin with pad work but rather than an all out assault, the aim was to get in strikes and then move out before attacking again. Sometimes this was one-on-one with a partner, sometimes with two partners and two pads. In each case, attacks were first limited to hand techniques, then kicks and finally any combination.
An additional twist was for the pad holders to present targets that would require the striker to stretch but not move a huge distance to make a connection. This was interesting. At first, this felt quite awkward but after a couple of rounds, I found my energy level improving and perhaps also my reaction times. Rather than finding a target, taking half a dozen steps and then preparing to strike, my responses certainly felt more rapid.
From there we dropped the pads and put on our boxing gloves and shin guards. For the first couple of weeks, this was not a free sparring session but instead two strikes from each side, with the defender having to parry whilst the attacker would move out of range after the strikes. Although a bit patterned (you know what's coming), it was still an effective session for movement.
Towards the end of the summer, we upped this to two attackers. Again, trying to keep moving and stay safe was the challenge. Finally, the group was confined to using half the hall for this practise but, whilst we had to focus on our two attackers, anyone else in the space could also attack.
Now this proved difficult, Being aware of potential attacks from all directions whilst focusing on two definite attackers was a challenge. I struggled a bit here but it certainly helped to judge distance. Towards the end of the session I was at least managing to move into areas where I could see everyone in front of me. Maybe not quite the aim of the practise but I felt I was moving into positions that prevented any nasty "surprises".
So all in all, the movement practises of the summer have been fantastic. The teaching from Hugh, along with Pauline Walmsley and Pauline Sharp have been very informative and tremendously enjoyable. On a personal level, I feel like I have learned a great deal over the past eight weeks and look forward to putting it into further practise over the next few weeks.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week the club returns home to Bearsden Academy and St Joseph's Academy respectively. I'm really looking forward to these sessions and hopefully you'll be able to come along and join us!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.