Shotokai Course - February 2016

A decent amount of CFTS students met up in Kempston on February 6th to once again train under Shotokai instructor, Minh Chung. The content was Meikyo and the course was opened by Renshi Kidby. He began by giving a translation of its meaning. He said Meikyo means literally polished mirror or like the reflection on the surface of calm undisturbed water. It was created by Kosaku Matsumora in Okinawa and was originally called Rohai and is practiced in various forms by many styles of karate and some styles of kung-fu too.


Some say Meikyo is an extension to the meaning of Heian – “peaceful mind”. In karate as in life, Renshi went on to say, we should try to keep our minds calm like that of calm water. When our mind is not calm, but worried, concerned or full of emotion our judgement and behaviour is detrimentally affected. This is especially important when needing karate in an aggressive situation.


Within karate, Meikyo can be translated to mean one should repeatedly practice one’s techniques to polish them to truly understand them and develop a high level of skill and also one’s karate is a reflection of oneself.


Finally Renshi said that the course content, which is a CFTS Nidan kata, was chosen as a tool to compare the two sister styles of Shotokan and Shotokai as it is Harada Sensei’s favourite kata and we practice it today in his honour.


After warming up, all who attended went through the Shotokan version of Meikyo to show the Instructors and students of Shotokai our way of performing the kata. After practicing it a few times the CFTS dan grades performed it high speed no count. This was followed by the Shotokai delegates doing likewise with their version where we spotted some noticeable differences.


Sensei Minh Chung then took everyone through some of the basic moves within the first half of the kata pointing out the need for good posture and strong stances. He demonstrated how good strength in any technique starts at the feet pushing strength up through the whole body. Bit by bit, stance by stance, a technique at a time, we explored the bunkai having fun doing so in an attempt to emulate our Shotokai colleagues.


After a short comfort break, we practiced the whole kata and further went on to a couple of throws, takedowns and finally the jump from the end of the kata. We completed the course by performing the kata no count.


The main differences between the styles is that Shotokai appears to have more feeling within it. It begins more relaxed and is more subtle but is extremely effective. As Sensei Chung said, it isn’t better nor worse it is just different.


The afternoon finished with a question and answer session with questions being answered by Sensei Chung and our Renshi. All course delegates were given a certificate of attendance as a memento. Sensei Chung was then given a New Year card with some good luck money for posterity in it on behalf of all of the CFTS students as it was Chinese New Year.

Our sincere thanks must go to all the instructors and students of Shotokai for sharing their style with us for the day. Mostly though thanks must go to Sensei Ming Chung for taking the course and for Harada Sensei for kindly allowing them to come and visit us, also to Renshi for organising the day.

ON THE MONDAY AFTER THE COURSE RENSHI RECEIVED THIS EMAIL FROM SENSEI CHUNG WHICH HE THOUGHT HE’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU.

Hi Andy,

Many thanks again for everything. Our boys and I had a great time on Saturday with you and your students. Our karateka enjoyed the afternoon as most never experienced another style other than Shotokai. In particular the friendly atmosphere which everyone was keen to exchange ideas and show the differences to each other. I do think that, you have earned the credit to be the first in history to bring together the two styles practising together. As you rightly said so, the two styles have never ever talked to each other. It's a good experience for me and our boys to practise and experience with someone other than Shotokai.


Many thanks also for being so kind and generous with the remuneration. The card and lucky money especially touched my heart!


All very much appreciated!


With best wishes,


MINH CHUNG

RENSHI’S REPLY


Hi Minh,


Thank you for taking our course. All of the students I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed another exploration of Shotokai on Saturday. It is different to the way we do Meikyo and to be truthful none of us found the differences easy to pick up. There are some useful tips though that we can use within Shotokan to enhance the way we do our Karate.


Please pass on my thanks to all your fellow karate-ka who came to assist. They made the afternoon even more pleasurable than it may otherwise have been. Please once again thank them on both my behalf and that of my students. How nice it is to train with others of different styles and arts who have no ego are open minded and feel they have nothing to prove. To think we are the first karate-ka to bridge the gap between our styles should give us some degree of satisfaction. It certainly gives me a nice feeling. Thanks must sincerely go to both you and Harada Sensei for being so open, warm and welcoming. The only things that gets in the way of good martial arts are things like a closed mind, egos, greed and politics. How nice to find another group that share our philosophy. I believe that life is too short for all of the above.


Please give my best wishes to Harada Sensei when next you speak and thank him from the bottom of my heart for allowing us to build bridges even if to the rest of the world it may seem insignificant.


Have a great Chinese new year however you are celebrating it and I hope 2016 is a good year for you both in health and prosperity.


Kind regards in Karate-do,


Andy