At the usual course venue of Hastingsbury School in Kempston, around forty higher grades enjoyed a fantastic afternoon’s training. The course content was freestyle with instruction from Sensei Donovan Slue, Shotokan 5th Dan.
Sensei Slue has been a friend of Sensei Kidby for over twenty years, having trained together for most of them. Sensei Slue has entered many freestyle competitions over the years with much success, some of them being full contact. Having shared the dojo with him and listened to his philosophy of competition also witnessed his technique, students of CFTS can understand why he has been a successful competitor.
For a big man who has spent many hours in the gym body building, Sensei Slue is very fast and light on his feet. Part of this can be put down to his approach to freestyle. Fast thinking and planning your defence as well as your attacks negates the need to be ultra fast and gives the illusion of even greater speed. Not putting your body in a position where it could easily scored against was key to Sensei Slue’s thinking by staying 'off line' and by reducing your opponents options.
The course opened up with fairly usual warm ups progressing on to simple, but effective, freestyle combinations. Having rehearsed these sequences, students then paired up to practice on their partners. Having been given sufficient time to practice, students then returned to learn more combinations returning to their partner once again. One of the combinations included a less than usual inside out sweep which some struggled to master. This process was repeated various times until all participants were drained both physically and mentally. We then broke for a well-earned rest.
After drinks and a rub down, Sensei Kidby took the senior dan grades out of the room to go through finer points of judging and refereeing, while Sensei Slue paired students up to permit them some free practice on their own using Sensei Slue's combinations against a static partner.
When the senior dan grades returned, five fighting areas were set up permitting judging and refereeing practice for some, while others had actual competitive freestyle practice. During this time Sensei Slue and Sensei Kidby were wandering around sharing words of wisdom.
All-in-all a great afternoon's karate was enjoyed by everyone who attended and thanks must go to Sensei Slue for his relaxed approach and his informative tuition. The thought he left with us was that there is no different karate. There is not Kata, Basics, Kumite and Freestyle. There is only Karate. It is ALL the same. Practice ALL of karate equally, diligently and with sincerity. Practice and enjoy your karate and enjoy your karate practice.