Course in Vancouver and British Columbia Canada
From 30th June to 12th July I travelled to Canada for my annual visit to teach around the Vancouver and B.C. area.
I arrived in Vancouver a little late on Monday 30th June as my plane had been delayed in Manchester causing a late arrival in Toronto for my connection on to Vancouver. I had a 2 hour delay in Toronto while air Canada moved me to a later flight. When I finally arrived, I was met by Sensei Mike Scales, Chief Instructor for Kazoku Kai Canada and long-time friend. Sensei Scales and his wife Liz were putting me up at their home in Coquitlam Vancouver for the duration of the trip.
July 1st is Canada day, a public holiday, so we all went downtown to Vancouver harbour to catch some of the atmosphere and to enjoy some of the many events which were put on. It was a beautiful day and thousands of people were out with their families to take in the sunshine and celebrate.
2nd July was the start of training and we travelled up to visit Sensei Don Shapland at his dojo near the beautiful town of Chilliwack which is surrounded by the Cascade Rocky Mountains. Sensei Shapland lived in Okinawa for many years and married an Okinawan girl while over there. He is a renowned expert in Kobudo and the Shorin Ryu style of Karate.
In this class, I worked on Nahanchin kata emphasising the importance of the kata to all the Shorin styles in Okinawa. After training, Sensei Shapland took us to a sushi restaurant in Chilliwack. The sushi in B.C. is some of the best anywhere in the world and is a recommended treat for anyone visiting the area.
On the way back home to Vancouver Mike dropped into a local market shop and purchased an enormous salmon to barbecue that evening, which was superb – the fish was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The barbecue rounded of a fine day for us all, great stuff!
Next day was the first of 3 sessions at Sensei Scales dojo in Coquitlam Vancouver. I had been asked to teach some of the bunkai to the Shotokan kata Kanku Dai (Kushanku Dai). We had a great turnout, with a lot of seniors from other clubs in Vancouver attending. I taught around half the kata bunkai in this session, saving the rest to be taught on the next class the following week. Everyone got stuck in and looked like they really enjoyed the lesson.
The following day we caught the ferry to Vancouver Island and Victoria where both me and Sensei Scales taught on the annual Shoto Canada summer course.
After booking into our Hotel, The Swans, which was attached to a brewery, we travelled to the naval base in Victoria where the course was to be held. I taught the evening session for 3 hours covering the rolling bunkai to the Heian (Pinan) katas. Everyone enjoyed the dynamic and different approach to bunkai including all manner of locks, holds, takedowns and atemi strikes.
After breakfast we headed off to the dojo for the second day of the course where my lesson was teaching bunkai from kata Hangetsu (Seishan) This kata is often neglected by students and very misunderstood in its purpose and its bukai, so I taught many variations of applications, again using a large variety of techniques contained within the kata. The class was only for Dan grades so I could teach and demonstrate some very painful stuff! Everyone really enjoyed this fresh outlook on Hangetsu kata.
Sunday was the final day of the camp and I taught bunkai from the kata Empi (Wanshu) in the morning, and kata Tekki (Naihanhin) shodan in the afternoon. After much training in Okinawa, I have realised just how important the Tekki or Naihanchi kata are, so I took time to explain some of the deep principles contained in the kata and why they are so important. Again the sessions were greatly appreciated by all and everyone went away with lots to think about.
After a late afternoon ferry back to Vancouver another barbecue was a fine way to wrap up a great weekend.
Monday saw us travelling to the town of Hope in the Cascade Mountains. I was to be a guest at Norm Losier’s dojo for the third time. Sensei Norm teaches the Issin Ryu style. Firstly I re-capped Itosu Passai, the kata I taught on my last visit. A few little mistakes had snuck in but were soon ironed out during the lesson. Sensei Norm had also asked me to teach the kata Naihanchin Nidan. The Issin style only does the first Naihanchin kata so he wanted to cover the Nidan kata. In my normal style, I broke the kata down into sections until everyone had the order, then worked on the importance of the priciples contained in the Naihanchin forms and stressed the diligence needed to constantly check your kata and to adhere to the principles contained. Again the class was very well received and all went home with much to muse over.
Tuesday saw us back at Sensei Mike’s dojo for the second instalment of bunkai from kata Kanku Dai. Again there was a good turnout at the senior class and soon everyone were inflicting pain on each other with locks; takedowns; atemi strikes; etc all from the kata. It was great to see so many karate-ka enjoying themselves and learning about how to apply the techniques from the kata in various self-defence situations.
Wednesday was a down day, the first one since Canada day and was much needed to recharge the batteries and the compulsory shopping to take back to the UK!
The last class of the trip was on the Thursday evening at Sensei Mike’s club in Coquitlam. This time I taught the bunkai to Shotokan kata Empi. Again everyone had a go at many different ways to use the techniques contained in the kata.
After the customary group photo at the end everyone headed for the St James’s Well pub in Port Moody for some light refreshment and a bite to eat. It was great to see that all those attending the classes had enjoyed their training and were now enjoying socialising together and discussing what had been covered over the trip.
I had another successful and highly enjoyable trip to Vancouver, and would like to thank everyone for attending the classes, and for all the great feedback. A few people made the trip special, and I would like to thank them individually:
Firstly a big thank you goes to Shoto Canada and to all the committee and its members. It was great to come and teach on the summer camp, you all looked after me so well and I really enjoyed teaching and working with you guys. It was a great weekend, I hope you all enjoyed what I taught, and I hope to see everyone again soon.
Thanks to Jean-Sebastien Duchaine, who was kind enough to let me demonstrate my bunkai on him. With bunkai you need someone you can trust so you can apply the technique with control but still strong enough so students can see that when applied properly, it does work. So thanks Jean you were a hero.
Thanks to Sensei Norm Losier and his son Yani, who invited me for the 3rd time to the Yama dojo in Hope. We all had a great time in sensei Norm’s fantastic dojo and I look forward to teaching there again soon.
Last but not least, thanks to my friend and fellow Shorin Ryu practitioner Sensei Don Shapland. It is always a pleasure to teach for sensei Don at his dojo and I look forward to meeting up again soon.
As always, a massive thank you goes to Mike and Liz Scales, they are the perfect hosts and looked after me so well. Without them the Canada trips would not happen and I would not have the opportunity to teach in B.C and beyond. I love them both like family and look forward to seeing them very soon.