With the school holidays in full flow, the club has decamped to Springburn Academy to join up with Kaizen Shoto Budo for the summer. Bringing the clubs together in this way has worked well over the past few summers. It keeps numbers high when many people go on holiday, gives everyone a chance to train with different people and allows us to get instruction from various senior grades.
With my own holidays and the Commonwealth Games taking place, my attendance has been a bit sporadic but I have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions so far.
Let's look first at the instructors. Between Hugh Russell (9th Dan), Pauline Walmsley (8th Dan) and Pauline Sharp (6th Dan) you have a ton of experience and skill to learn from. I really like how they each have their own teaching style and so often one will point something out that I've never considered before. I think have come away from each session having learned something new and improved my skills.
The focus over the summer has been on movement, whether that is standing, on the ground, during kata or using a bo staff.
Sparring and parrying is the area I that feel least comfortable so the movement work has been very helpful. Pauline S. took a session that looked at movement when striking pads. Rather than being an all-out hitting session, the aim was to move in, get two quick hits and then move out. Initially I found this quite awkward but as we worked on the practise, the movement started to develop. We moved it onto controlled sparring with partner, again doing two attacks each side with the defending side looking to parry the attack. Although it was at controlled pace and controlled attack, I found this very useful and hopefully can put the movement into practise as things speed up.
There have been a lot of warm Tuesday nights this summer so by the end of the warm ups and practises, the sweat has been flying but there is still some work to be done, in the shape of a six feet long bo staff. In my years with the club, I have only used the bo a few times so often when we revisit the practise, I feel like I am starting again from scratch.
It is still an interesting practise, working with the distance and range that the bo provides. I don't feel my bo work is particularly smooth yet; I feel my range against a single pad is improving but when faced with multiple attacks and distance, I had the coordination of an octopus falling out of a tree. I must ask Hugh if we can do some bo work more frequently to try and build on this skill.
Finally, on a couple of occasions we have finished with a mediation session similar to that mentioned in my post about our Springburn course in January. Would it be bad to admit that the first time we did this, I half expected someone to attack us and so never fully relaxed? This time, knowing what was coming, I found it to be a fine way to relax after a strenuous session and is something I have incorporated into other training.
So a quick summary of July's training sessions and there are only a couple of these to go before we return home to Bearsden Academy and St Joseph's for the next school year. Hope to see you there!
The BMAC blog began in 2013 to chart one member's journey to black belt.