What could bring a Vancouver city man as far North as Dawson Creek BC for a weekend? Kyokushin Karate. Nidan Arthur Leithman flew up to our small neck of the woods this past weekend to train the Dawson Creek Dojo Friday night and all day Saturday. I have been asked to give some feedback on the Saturday morning session and am happy to do so.
We started at 9 am with all students combined. Five year olds all the way up to Shodan adults. Because we were in a gymnasium Sempai Arthur took advantage of the space and ran us with intermittent direction changes and strength exercises such as pushups, squats etcetera. After a while the temperature of the gym and the students rose accordingly accompanied by lots of heavy breathing, pink cheeks and smiles. Some stretching and loosening and it was on to Kihon. The juniors stayed with us, and with focus, until 10:30, a feat impressive unto itself since the junior classes are usually only an hour.
Usually weekend seminars seem to develop a theme or focus in combination with training. This one was no different. Posture was the goal, not necessarily due to a specific lack of it amongst us but because it is so important to Karate. Back to basics might not sound all that interesting but when taught by someone different with a different set of eyes, different ways of explaining and different drills, it is intriguing and challenging, and even mind blowing. The time flew by for the kids and adults both. We learned body awareness, feeling your stance instead of looking at it. Slow movement to really focus on where you are in your stance and how to feel the transitions. Light bulbs were coming on all around. Before anyone knew it the morning was done. Positive feedback all around and everyone was looking forward to the afternoon.
Sempai Arthur seemed to enjoy the warmth of the northern hospitality and promises to return. We here are very grateful for his time and attention and would welcome him back anytime!
Mark Spitz, Dawson Creek Dojo
We at the Dawson Creek Kyokushin Karate dojo had the honour of hosting Sempai Arthur Liethman, Ni Dan of the Richmond South Arm dojo, and kohai of Shihan Stuart Corrigal, for a weekend of rigorous training. The weekend consisted of one Friday night class, and two classes on Saturday. Friday night, Sempai Arthur instructed a two hour Kumite class, with focus on three key fighting skills: Posture, Fluidity and Timing. All three of which are vital components needed to be an effective fighter and karateka.
To begin class, Sempai Arthur had students warm up utilizing DDP Yoga and Insanity Fitness Training exercises. Basic kihon was added in to keep students always moving and thinking. All the while being reminded to “keep your hands up”. With these workout methods being
intense, as well as great ways to improve all three key focus skills, we were quickly warmed up and stretched out. Needless to say, the tone of the night was immediately set.
Posture, Fluidity and Timing Making them work together
Once sufficiently warm, Sempai had students partner up with each other. Taking turns attacking and defending, we used basic kihon to move, strike and defend simultaneously. To become more proficient in doing so, Sempai Arthur instructed us on the finer points of proper posture, fluidity of motion and timing of techniques. Points such as the importance of core strength to maintain proper posture when moving and transitioning between stances. The importance of proper technique, instead of speed and power, to improve the fluidity of movement and technique renraku. The imperative need for focus, and a lack of hesitation to properly measure the timing of an incoming strike, the block and subsequent counterattack. Or the fact that effectiveness of any one of the three is directly correlated to the integrity of the other two.
For instance, the first of many aite drills we were instructed in was greatly improved with better balance. It was a combination that consisted of:
Facing aite, both standing hidari mai kumite dachi , hands up.
Taking turns attacking and defending
Attacker slides forward moving rear foot forward, front foot kicks Jodan mawashi Geri
Defender blocks and immediately attacks using same renraku
One step, one kick, one block. Simple enough.
However, I found that the harder and faster we pushed, the more off balance we became, which made the timing and tempo become less fluid. But the more emphasis I put on proper posture, the easier it was to move, pivot and kick with a certain amount of fluidity. The more fluid the combination got, the faster it became, while the timing of the blocks and counterattacks improved. Balance made for better kihon
Another aite drill consisted of:
Facing aite, both standing hidari mai kumite dachi , hands up
Attacker punches saiken chudan gyaku tsuki
Attacker punches saiken chudan oi tsuki, kicks mai ashi gedan mawshi geri simultaneously.
Defender blocks and immediately counterattacks.
Back hand, front hand/front foot. Another basic one right? Until you try and punch and kick all at once. In this, I found that the more focus on timing the front hand punch and the front leg kick together, the more fluid it became by way of weight transfer through the hips. Possibly due to posture already set for the leg kick from the punch, turning of the hips becomes more natural, allowing a more efficient weight transfer. Timing of the simultaneous attack helped improve kihon.
Sempai also taught a number of fluidity enhancement drills. My personal favourite being a Kumite drill, where you stand within an inch of a wall at your back, and are limited to movement side to side. Standing with limited space, an opponent attacks while you evade and counter within an imaginary confined space. This exercise emphasizes the idea of never backing up from an attack, and forces the defender to move, block and counter without retreating.
These are only a few simple notes taken by an eager Yon-Kyu ( with the help of his amazing wife ), of a much more in depth Kumite class that I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to attend. Before our affiliation with the IKO, such an experience was rare, and for some, near impossible. The extended family that we’ve become a part of, and the opportunities that have come with assimilation into the IKO are an indescribable asset to our dojo. Without the organization, our dojo would not be able to benefit from such things as Sempai Arthur generously taking the time to travel all the way up to Dawson Creek, also known as the colder part of nowhere, and share his talents with us. As well as his extensive experiences training with Kyokushin legends such as Shihan Stuart Corrigal, and Shihan Bobby Lowe. Thank you Sempai Arthur Liethman for a great weekend. OSU!!
Also, Thanks to Sempai Mark Fonda for making this all possible, and to Kohai Mark Spitz for opening his home to accommodate Sempai Arthur (and some of us thirsty trainees) for the weekend. Arigato Gozaimasu. Anata Wa Meiyo Tachi!! OSU!