The course started about an hour later than anticipated due to the sheer number of passports to be stamped books to be signed by the master, but this was not a problem and gave us a great opportunity to "mingle" and meet other people.
I found myself conversing with the SKIF representative for the Ivory Coast, a really cool chap named Nicolas Tanoh (pictured), very friendly and we seemed to have a lot in common about our karate practice, including our passion for kata (and dislike of competitions!). Nicolas would later in the course be my partner for the kumite exercises as well.
The course started with a half hour of warmups followed by basics, starting with hip position/rotation (which is the very essence of Shotokan karate anyway), then adding kizami-zuki, gyaku-zuki. Then with some kicks chudan and jodan mae-geri. (Couldn't do much more than that as we were some 300 karateka packed into a gymnasium like sardines!).
For the kumite, we worked initially on sambon kumite: jodan, chudan, mae-geri (SKIF sets 1 and 2), and jiyuu stance switching with a partner, working on switching the stance to gain a distance advantage.
Finally time for a break, and photo-shoots with kancho Kanazawa, and then back to work with Kata, working through Bassai-dai, Empi, Jion, Kanku-dai and ending with a detailed breakdown of Nijushiho. Of course all of these were done the "SKIF" way, that is to say, the way that Kanazawa teaches them since there are organisational differences between the kata as well. Interestingly, Kanazawa's way of performing the kata is much more representative of the original versions, so it was great to be able to "go back to one's roots".
In all it was a great course, and a rare opportunity to train with perhaps the greatest living proponent of modern karate.