AFTK WA Seminar 2006 Review

The AFTK (Australian Federation of Traditional Karate) held a training seminar in Western Australia on 29-30 Sept 2006. The seminars were co-presented by Kyoshi Chris Hoath (Coastal Shotokan - Port Kennedy WA) and Sensei John Hackett (Authentic Shotokan Karate Australia - Rockhampton QLD) teaching at different sessions. The seminar sessions were held on the Friday night (29th) and Saturday morning (30th).

The seminar fee was very reasonable at $20 per person for non AFTK member clubs.

The seminar content was suitable for everyone and not style specific. While we had hoped to get a few other clubs along to enjoy this event it was attended only by members of local AFTK clubs but everyone who attended got something out of it of benefit to their regular training.

Friday night: Kata Meikyo with applications.

For all those who might have thought about going, or read about the seminar and dismissed the idea, all I can say is "Ner!".

The first session was taught by Sensei John Hackett and covered the Shotokan kata Meikyo (a black belt kata) with applications.

We went through the kata twice at the beginning just to familiarise people with some of the movements in the kata. Different Shotokan groups have slight differences between their own versions of this kata so it would be a waste of time working on learning the kata when this would be best done back at regular training.

The rest of the time was spent on applications (bunkai/oyo). All the applications dealt with responding to realistic attacks - common acts of violence. For those of us who don't know Meikyo it was still a very interesting session of some self-defence applications as well as being able to relate those applications to the same movements in other kata.

Even after running through this kata twice only, it is easily apparent how some elements are common with other kata, and so it is also easy to relate the applications to other kata.

Saturday morning: Kumite drills (Kyoshi Chris Hoath), Self defence techniques (Sensei John Hackett)

A few more people than were there for the previous session - those who could not attend the first session due to other commitments.

The morning started with a set of kumite drills presented by Kyoshi Chris Hoath. These were primarily attacking drills featuring irimi (entering) techniques and which, although comparatively lengthy (up to 5 or 6 techniques), just use basic techniques which can be changed or adjusted depending on the situation.

Arguably one of the hardest parts of sparring is seizing the initiative and attacking without having a block-and-counter thrown at you which shuts you down and costs you the advantage of being the one in control. These drills are all designed to not only get you moving with sequences of attacks, but also allow you to attack and then draw back to lure your opponent in with their counter thus maintaining control so that you can emerge the victor.

With many years of experience at both competing and coaching competitors in kumite Chris is a person who knows how to control the flow of sparring and these drills are a step towards teaching students the tools they need to be successful in sparring. Those who actively compete and could have attended can only berate themselves for missing out on learning something they might not have seen before and could use effectively in the ring.

The next session of the morning was a series of self-defence techniques presented by Sensei John Hackett. With occasional interludes of relating where some of these appear in various kata, all the techniques were presented around real-life applications with varying degrees of severity in the responses. Where so many seem to like going for the "hard" response option, John takes the realistic view that many times you don't want to damage the other person and that it is only a means of last resort.

Many techniques were covered in the session along with tricks like the "crab claw" (if you want to know what that is you should have come). Each technique was only practiced a couple of times with a partner to get a feel for it, but the aim of the session was not to try and teach a plethora of SD techniques but to offer some alternative ideas which may be new to some or a variation on a theme to others.

In my view it is an indication of the depth of knowledge someone possesses when they concentrate more on extracting from a situation without inflicting damage unless necessary. It would seem that those who try to impress with how many ways they can damage someone are either insecure or don't have the depth to be able to take the less violent path while maintaining the ability to escalate the response should it become necessary.

Unlike some seminars which seem to just be a repeat of regular classes but spread over a longer time and so the hours simply crawl by as snails go whizzing past, this was something which covered a wide range of material and time seemed to have run out soon after it began.

- Mick Todd