Our two month summer residence at the Allander Leisure Centre is has wrapped up so it’s a good time to review before we return to our regular school venues.
One thing that jumps out to me is how spacious the venue feels. We have been using two badminton courts which, in terms of floor space, is comparable to what we have on a Tuesday night at Bearsden Academy, yet the larger hall makes it feel so much more open. I'm not sure what the effect of this is, but it feels like it makes me move better, something noticeable during parrying and movement practices.
We have had good numbers attending through the summer this year, something that has not always been the case. Most weeks, we have had at least 20 people training, giving a good variety of training partners to help develop skills. One exception was 19th July when we had our one day of summer with temperatures in the high twenties. A few people (sensibly) found cooler things to do because that may have been the warmest hall I’ve ever trained in and my gi was absolutely drenched in sweat that night.
It’s been good to see a few of our higher graded juniors joining us as well, giving them a chance to experience their first adult practices. I would say they have coped with the increased intensity and length of practice very well and are ready to make that step up.
We have had some visitors from other clubs which is always fun to get different club perspectives on our practice. We have had a visitor who has previously trained in Tae Kwon Do which again gives a different perspective. I have visited a TKD club a couple of times in the past and whilst it is very different from Shoto Budo, the approach to their striking practice is a compliment to ours.
Hugh has worked on a variety of close in techniques, including the sticky hands parrying work we have been looking at over the last few months. We also started using a practical application of the Hangetsu kata, again very much for close in defence. It’s early days with this practice so some of the elements are not quite coming together for me. Most of the practice was based on a standing attack and I need some more work to get the benefit of this. There's definitely a combination of movement and balance to get the full effect so we'll look at this again in future. Interestingly, when we took it to the ground, I was able to execute the techniques more effectively in getting space when defending from underneath an attacker.
Eric hosted two weeks of training whilst Hugh was on holiday, with the sessions focusing on themes of movement and balance. These were great high energy sessions that, even if one of them was on the aforementioned hosted night of the year.
Our final Allander session was a night of no-gi training, instead practising in shorts and t-shirts. Although we evolved from karate, our practice covers a number of other areas so sometimes training like this is helpful. Removing the control points of a gi jacket changes the game, so there has to be a different focus on grip and technique. We practised a few things including arm drags think (think of trying to grab a sweaty arm rather than grabbing a gi jacket), ground work (no jacket to help pin down an opponent) and pad work (less of a change. Is it freer movement without a gi? Possibly). I took a load of photos of these sessions which will be on here soon.
On the same night, we also practiced some new triangle techniques on the ground, getting into the choke from on top of, as opposed to from underneath, an opponent. I liked this technique a lot although at the moment it still feels a bit awkward in terms of setup and execution. Given this, it might not work in a free ground work session but maybe once the technique gets smoother, this will change.
So overall, it has been a great summer of training. Good energy (fitness is getting better), new techniques to learn and ongoing improvement in others. Next week we're back to our usual slots at Bearsden Academy and St Joseph's Primary school. Looking forward to it!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.