The first course of 2017 saw a good number of Shoto Budo practitioners descend on Springburn Academy over the weekend of 11th and 12th February. The theme of the course was kata, how to improve and how to use it.
The class was divided into groups and, as with November's National Course, we had 30 minutes or so with different instructors whilst the senior grades circulated to clarify both what was being taught and how it was being received.
I was training with the black belt group over the weekend and, obviously enough given that I only got my First Dan in November, this was the first course where I have been part of that group. Such was the level of information and practice within the group, I can safely say that my head was as exhausted as my body.
For example, on Sunday my group was working through the Tekki katas and using application of these in open space and against a wall. Graeme Muirhead and Richard Price (both 8th Dan) fed into the session about the movement, and timing of certain moves to generate power with Graeme effectively demonstrating what he meant. It really showed that "knowing" a kata is not just some vague sequence of moves but what the moves actually are doing.
Billy Haggerty (10th Dan and Shoto Budo's Technical Director) made a point during the wrap up that he still practises Taikyoku Shodan (the first kata) and it has all the moves need for self defence. I imagine that I was not the only person who was surprised by that, the (incorrect) assumption being that the higher the grade, the higher the kata would be practised. I think the value of all the katas is something everyone should remember.
Another valuable learning point from Billy was that kata in itself is not self defence. If one goes into a situation with the intention of using a specific kata, it will likely fail. He then framed it as "stay safe" rather than "use kata" and that simple phrasing visibly changed the mindset. After a demo of this, he asked if anyone saw moves from kata.
Lots of shaking heads.
But what about these steps he asked? What about these parrying moves?
There were moves from kata but since he hadn't framed it as kata application, many of us did not recognise it as such.
So much information, so much to process and so much to take back to the club for regular training. It was exactly what a course should provide.
It also was the first grading opportunity for our kyu grades and we had one member participating. Congratulations go to Scott McCallum who achieved his orange belt. Well done Scott!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.