March 9th, 10th and 11th represented yet another full weekend of martial arts training for the Toshikai Dojo of Ottawa. It started on Friday night in Montreal. Hanshi Albert Mady and Sensei Harri Makivirta brought some 60 people from their dojos in Windsor and Cookstown, Ontario. They came to the Ohan Brother's Gold Cup Kyokushin full-contact tournament www.ohanbrothers.com.
Hanshi Mady put on a street self-defense seminar on Friday night in which Sensei Shane Hale had the honour of being Hanshi's uke for two hours. Believe me, the learning is much quicker when you have had the chance to be Hanshi's uke (OUCH!). Isshin Ryu won many divisions in this fighting only tournament which has two categories of fighting:semi-contact (with cloth pads) and full-contact (without pads). For thoseof you who have never watched or competed in a tournament such as this, you will learn a lot. We often say that a good karateka should be able to fight anywhere regardless of the rules. Picture rules such as these: you will lose a half point if you show pain, you will lose a half point if you get kicked in the head, you will lose the match if you do not get back into the ring in 3 seconds. It is continuous fighting in which judges award the match to the karateka who has scored the most effective strikes or has knocked out his or her opponent. There is no punching to the head nor is there any grabbing. Leg kicks are allowed. For someone (like myself) who comes from a point fighting background, these rules are very different. I was impressed by the amount of safety that there was with these rules. If you train to fight this way, your body becomes more and more able to take a good solid hit and to give a good solid shot. As a martial artist, that to me is important training whether or not you ever plan to enter a full-contact tournament. And as a member of the audience, the night fights were spectacular. The fighters were warriors, exchanging blows, standing toe to toe and digging very deep to fight two two minutes rounds. To view one of these fights, do a search on www.youtube.com for "Chucky Mady" and see Hanshi's son in action.
Hanshi hopped into my car on Sunday morning and we were off for Ottawa. The first seminar entitled "The Secrets of Isshin Ryu" ran for three hours in which Hanshi Mady took us through the fundamental concepts of Isshin Ryu karate. Hanshi took us through all basics kihon exercises and drills explaining stances, blocking, distancing, and the brillance behind Shimabuku's vertical fist. As an Isshin Ryu karateka for over 25 years, I was amazed at what I learned: exact thumb positioning on the fist,foot positioning on the kick, body shifting, small details which make a big difference in my karate. I love doing basics! After a break for supper, training continued on into the evening. Hanshi took us through all of Isshin Ryu's empty hand katas, briefly explaining the waza (movements of the kata) and ensuring that we were all maintaining a high standard of excellence for our katas. Perhaps what was most striking about going through the katas was simply watching Hanshi do his stuff. The power generated from this kudan (9th degree black belt) made our eyes go huge as we picked up our jaws off the ground. Class ended by picking up our bos and learning some basic movements of striking and blocking. Everyone loves having a bo in their hands. After 3 days and many hours of training,we were done, another weekend of martial arts training completed. Many thanks to Hanshi Albert Mady and we hope to have you back in September.