Monday, 26 September 2011

Oxford Shinpan Seminar

One of the grading requirements is that we attend a ref seminar once a year.  Unfortunately, there are so few courses run by the BKA that we have to grab any that appear.

Last weekend's course was run by O'Sullivan and Mano sensei assisted by senor squad members.  Sensei opted for a relaxed style of teaching, encouraging plenty of Q&A audience participation.  They focused on the topic of 'What is ippon' as opposed to the actual mechanics of reffing a shiai-jo (e.g. flag signals and commands).

We spent the next few hours learning what a ref should look for in regards to the five elements of Yūkō Datotsu, which we all know is:

  • Fullness of spirit and intention;
  • Striking a datotsu-bui (striking zone);
  • Correct striking region of own shinai;
  • Correct ha-suji; and 
  • Correct zanshin.
Sensei also suggested there was a 6th unofficial requirement of maintaining correct posture during the strike.  Basically no body contortions or spinning around after a kote cut.

We also discussed the tricky subject of 'grey zone' situations which are open to interpretation.  For example, high level oji waza which may appear weak in power can be given credit in order to encourage the use of complex techniques.  There are too many to list (not that I can remember them all).

Finally, sensei outlined different fouls and which warrant hansoku.

The afternoon session consisted of a fighting group who were refereed by a rotating shinpan group.  I was  part of the first reffing group up and found it very difficult to maintain triangulation with the Shushin (main ref), while paying full attention to the fight.  

As the fight progresses, it's very easy to find yourself 'ball watching' and miss something important.  I also found acting as Shushin quite stressful, first of all you need to make yourself heard, you have to be aware that the other shinpan are triangulating off you and you have to act decisively with quick commands.  Any delays confuses those fighting.  

This experience demonstrated to me how tough acting as a ref can be, especially for those who are relatively inexperienced and are 'press ganged' during a competition.  It's very easy for a competitor to slate a dodgy decision but it's a bloody hard job!

Due to my bad ankle I didn't fight during the seminar and I'm going to give it another week of rest.  However, during my time off i've managed to sell my house and have an offer accepted on a new one, at least this dead time hasn't been wasted. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Admitting Defeat

It looks like i'll have to skip training for a few weeks to give my knackered ankle a proper rest. I visited Mumeishi yesterday in the hope that it will hold up, but I pulled it again with about 20 mins of the session left.

I did manage jigeiko with Holt and Salmon sensei. Both commented that I need to work on pressure and creation of an opportunity. Holt sensei in particular highlighted the need to develop an ability to keep centre, build pressure, concentration then make an opportunity though technique (e.g. harai) in order to pass Sandan. I'm merely performing 'brainless kendo' at the moment.

All stuff to think about during my recovery and plenty of gym work ahead.

Friday, 9 September 2011


Lack of training opportunities mixed with a number of injuries have resulted in a frustrating last few weeks. First of all I damaged the second toe on my left foot after crashing into a dojo mate, this requires taping up for every practice. In addition, a twisted my left ankle is also plaguing my training, this brought Thursday practice to a premature end as I couldn't launch from my back foot. I also missed our first Friday back at my home dojo. My missus hates it when I miss practice as I end up sulking on the sofa!

I've also had a change in work circumstances which means I cant leave early to travel into London for Tuesday practice. Consequently, I have started to visit Mumeishi dojo as its only 30 mins drive away.

All I can say is I feel like a beginner again. Holt sensei (7DR) has pulled me up on my zanshin and ki-ai into seme. He spotted that I ki-ai then let my intensity/concentration drop before attempting to engage the opponent. To try and fix this, he had me shouting like a madman for 4-5 seconds then maintaining contact before he opened a target, it did make me feel sharper but I was out of breath very quickly. Holt sensei suggested I need investigate the use of my diaphragm to help breathing. Mumeishi is a high level intense practice, I even get beaten up by their ikkyus.

edit: i found this article on breathing that could prove useful  Here and Here