May the 4th marked an exceptional special milestone in the history of the Central Federation of Traditional Shotokan. Karateka from all the clubs across CFTS gathered in Bedford to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our association. As with all the best celebrations, the event was marked with gifts, speeches, humour… and outstanding karate instruction!
At the heart of the event was a series of masterclasses with the Association’s most senior instructors. Attendees were split into two groups, seniors and juniors for two concurrent workshops held in each of the sports halls at Kempston Challenger Academy. Shihan O’Reilly led a session on freestyle kumite, with an emphasis on the use of psychology and gamesmanship in addition to practical freestyle combinations. Shihan McClagish took attendees through a range of self-protection applications, dealing with grips before culminating in knife defences.
During the changeover for the two groups, everyone congregated in the larger sports hall for an unrehearsed team kata performance of Sochin by the Association’s Shodans and recent Nidans. After the second session there was a special treat when the most senior karateka performed a ‘defend the gap’ exercise. It was a probably a draw for most entertaining moment between Sensei Saunder’s ‘ninja skills’ and Shihan McClagish’s ‘aerial gymnastics’.
The instruction for the day then closed with everyone training together in the main hall for a session of ‘brutal bunkai’ delivered by the Association’s Chief Instructor and founder, Renshi Kidby. The kata that the bunkai were drawn from included Heian Godan, Jitte, Tekki Sandan, Gankaku and Sepai. Students of all grades enjoyed the challenge of identifying the kata from the bunkai.
The event closed with Renshi Kidby addressing the group and recounting the history of CFTS and the reasons why he, Sensei Coppen and Sensei Calver decided to found the association 25 years ago. This included an account of the aims of the association which included provision of consistent, high quality instruction, accessible cost for all students and openness to exploring practices outside of the association.
CFTS’s success in realising these aims was clearly apparent throughout the event. The instruction delivered by Renshi Kidby, Shihan McClagish and Shihan O’Reilly was outstanding. The cost for the event was kept to a minimum. During the Kumite section of the course, participants engaged in exercises based on content from previous Shotokai courses and during self-defence some exercises were familiar to those who had previously attended CFTS course with Shihan Mally Holmes.
The Birthday Card competition was won by Jack Young, with Ronin Kealy in 2nd place and Warfren Gadsby in 3rd place.
Unusually though, Renshi Kidby did not get to have the last word! Shihan McLagish stepped in to take over proceedings and pay tribute to Renshi Kidby for all of the work and commitment that he has put into the establishment and development of the Central Federation of Traditional Shotokan. Renshi Kidby was then presented with tokens of the members’ appreciation which included a framed kanji script celebrating 25 years of CFTS and the support from Renchi Kidby’s family was recognised by with a hotel voucher for two. Despite 25 years traditionally being a silver anniversary, gold was more in evidence through the inclusion of some choice malt whisky!
The celebration day provide to be a highly enjoyable, rewarding and moving event for all who participated and I am sure that I am not alone in expressing my thanks to Renshi Kidby, Shihan McLagish, Shihan O’Reilly and all of the other senior karateka in the Association, not just for what they put into the day to make it such a success but also for all of the effort they have put into making our association what it is today.