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Shihan Finch Course - February 2006

We were lucky again to get Shihan Finch to take us on another course - this time covering some bo work and some self-defence techniques. We also had good attendance again!

After some warm-ups, Sensei Finch gave us a quick overview of some of the weapons that came from Okinawa. All the weapons were originally farm implements that were adapted after weapons were banned on the island. The course's main theme was working with the bo staff. In order to defend effectively against a weapon, it is advisable to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the weapon. This is why we study the bo staff (and also there is quite a bit of bo bunkai in various kata!). Sensei Finch explained that bo staffs were tapered at either end to stop sai from easily trapping the staff and disarming an opponent. See this short video movie where sensei explains & demonstrates this.

Sensei Finch took us through several different basic combinations to get to grips with a bo staff (very important for someone who has not tried before!). We also did some focus training with the bo - hitting small targets and also practicing changing hands (when changing guard/stance). Sensei Finch also demonstrated some basic blocks and how they applied to people grabbing your bo staff and removing them. Sensei next taught us some bunkai from different katas, including a simple evasion from a head strike that ends up in a rather painful finger hold! We also had time to practice a few disarming techniques when someone had grabbed your arm/wrist. We also experienced the "Millwall Brick" - a rolled up newspaper that is then folded into two. It forms a very compact and hard weapon that can used as an alternative to punching if the situation required it. I think it made us all aware of how hard a newspaper could be in the hands of someone. The paper could be used to strike various points of the body with noticeable effect!

Somehow sensei also managed to pack in some techniques for defending against a baseball bat (or similar weapon). Again, he demonstrated a fairly simple disarming technique (or finger hold) that put the defender in control. One key feature, though, was what NOT to do: don't block an incoming weapon head on with age-uke as the weapon will surely damage your arm!

Time flew by but sensei certainly gave a varied course that everyone seemed to enjoy. Sensei Finch very generously gave a set of Tonfa to a student that stood out (Steve Massey) during the training session. Sensei Kidby & Sensei McClagish presented Sensei Finch with a Bonsai Tree as thank you from all the CFTS students. Sensei Kidby gave us a quick speech regards the ancestral significance of the Japanese Bonsai tree.

Thanks to Sensei Kidby for organising and arranging the course and a big thank you again to Sensei Finch for a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon! Also thanks go to all the students that supported the course - without good support from the CFTS students courses like these could not be put on every year.

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