Feel the connection

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The Ottawa Ryusei Summer Camp participants after their morning training by Lake Calabogie.

On the weekend of July 16, 2016, we held the annual Canadian Ryusei Summer Camp, arranged by Rick Going and Kam Miranbigi in the Calabogie resort area, outside Ottawa.

This year, 17 karateka participated: Ryusei member from four Ontario dojo and Sherbrooke in Quebec, as well as Koshin-ha Chito-Ryu members from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The instruction for the clinic was handled by Terry Valentino, a 7th dan from Koshin-ha Chito-Ryu, and me.

My teaching focused on exercises to promote the right body structure to achieve higher level karate technique. A lot of Sakamoto-Sensei’s technique – especially in in upper-rank kata such as Unsu – depends on having the correct internal connections. Part of this involves achieving a soft, supple body, good sinking power, a focus on the centre, correct breathing and the right state of mind. And then all these things must come together properly.

With the proper body structure, a karateka can achieve more power with less muscular effort. This allows him or her to do smaller, open-hand moves and still have effective (or even more effective) technique. We hope to get more instruction from Sakamoto-Sensei on how to achieve these internal connections when he visits Canada this October.

For his part, Valentino-Sensei did a drill he developed that incorporates most of the major joint locks, flowing from one to another as the other person resists. I found this extremely useful and will incorporate the exercise into my teaching.

Terry also did some ground training exercises. With the popularity of mixed martial arts, there is an increasing chance that a street attacker will try to take you the ground. You don’t want to fight on the ground, in case the attacker has friends who come to kick you where you lie. So you need principles to follow to get back to your feet.

I have asked Peter Zehr, a police officer and head instructor of Grey-Bruce Ryusei Karate, to put together a brief program of ground-fighting principles that Canadian Ryusei dojo can incorporate into their curricula.

The Pittsburgh contingent cooking a gourmet meal for the group Friday night: Brian Buirge, Terry Valentino and Nikki Frank.
The Pittsburgh contingent cooking a gourmet meal for the group Friday night: Brian Buirge, Terry Valentino and Nikki Frank.

In the evening, we ate great meals cooked at the resort lodge we occupied, followed by long nights of talking, exchanging techniques, singing, dancing and generally making merry. All had a great time. Thank you, Kam and Rick, for organizing the camp. Thank you, Terry, for helping to teach. And thank you to all who attended. See you next year.


–Peter Giffen
Ryusei Karate-Do Canada

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