The seminar was headed by senseis Daniel Lautier (7th Dan, Chief Instructor France JKA), and Sawada Kazuhiro (7th Dan, Chief Instructor, JKA Belgium), and organised by the local club, Shotokan Karate Do Bar sur Aubois, headed by Jean-Charles Candel.
To start, after warmups, sensei Lautier took the kyu grades while sensei Sawada took the Dan grades. As always, sensei Sawada has a penchant for pushups on the knuckles followed by multiple techniques that do not really feel all that natural when executed. This makes for a great deal of variety when working with combinations. After [trying to] get[ing] the grips with the combinations in question, sensei Sawada had us paired up with partners to execute the techniques with their defence and counter-attacks. [Okay, we tried!!!]
The following session was sensei Lautier with some basics (kihon) and kata. Bassai Dai (in mirror image, or "ura"), followed by kanku-sho, gojushiho-sho, and nijushiho. Did I mention before that I quite like kata? Well, sensei Lautier puts an entirely different "spin" on kata, and it turns into a very good workout, with incredible attention to the smallest detail! Wrapped up with Sochin, Jion, and our "tokui" kata.
After day-one of intense training, it was time for a bit of relaxation. Of course, in the France-JKA, people definitely KNOW how to have a good time together. Good discussion, good drink, good food, and generally good company!
I was quite impressed with sensei Lautier's absolute mastery of the dance-floor !
It did take a bit of coaxing to get sensei Sawada to starting ripping up the boards, but once started there was no stopping him! (way to go, sensei!!)
Everyone had a great time, with lots of excellent camaraderie and great discussions.
After the evening's festivities, at which time it was already into the early hours of the morning for many, a good night's sleep and back in the dojo in the morning. Understandably fewer participants for the morning session, partly due the effect of the "morning after the night before", but of course mostly due to the fact that many people had travelled a few hundred miles to attend in the first place.
Again, the group was split, with the kyu grades with sensei Lautier and Dan grades with sensei Sawada. A bit of jiyuu-ippon (of sorts) kumite based on again more unusual [unnatural] combinations with sensei Sawada, followed by a 2-on-1 jiyuu kumite. This was quite fun, even though I'm not a major fan of combat, it was building on the jiyuu-ippon that we had done just before, but with pretty much full liberty in attack and defence. One of the key building blocks of this session was the use of "tai-sabaki", and its effectiveness to avoid/escape the danger of an attack. Doing this from unusual angles, or unusual combinations caused many of us to pause for thought, since it's often something that is not practiced, resulting in us turning in a certain direction which places us into the direct [and even closer] line of the attack, rather than evading it by turning in the other direction.
After the kumite sessions, it was again more kata, and indeed, one of my favourite of all time - Bassai-Sho. Interestingly, it was the first time that I can remember ever doing this kata and ending up back on the starting point almost exactly -- and for reasons that I'm utterly incapable of explaining. (I normally end up about 2 feet behind the starting point in this kata....)
It was great to see everyone at this course, and looking forward to the course in Paris in March with sensei Ueki in March!