The Düsseldorf Special with Koichiro Okuma has become a fix event in the annual European Shotokan Karate calendar. Here we report from the 2nd special in Düsseldorf. By Jeffrey Evers
One year after the outstanding success of the 1th Düsseldorf Special, 130 karateka from all over Germany and beyond visited the Dojo Yamato. They all attended the joint Seminar with Sensei Koichiro Okuma and a get-together with friends during the long Pentecost weekend.
From Kata to Kumite: The 1st Day of the Düsseldorf Special
From Taikyoku Shodan to Kanku Sho
The first training session began 10 am on Saturday. Koichiro Okuma Sensei started the seminar by sharing an anecdote of his karate career with the junior Kyu grades. Concentrating on kumite for the majority of his early competitive career, his focus moved to kata as time passed. Yet, never losing the aspiration to improve his kumite skills. This essence, improving kumite through kata, was the pivotal topic of the 2nd Düsseldorf Special.
The Saturday morning session aimed at body-shifting. Okuma Sensei used Taikyoku Shodan and Heian Shodan to teach the junior kyu grades how to move their balance point. Instead of concentrating on minor details, he emphasized the overall feeling while performing the katas. His means of choice was Kanku Sho. Okuma Sensei pointed out, why this Kata is the best preparation for kumite. Above all, the great number of direction changes fosters the feeling for shifting the bodyweight. His several demonstrations showed impressively what great impact this basic skill can have on speed and power.
From Heain Nidan to Hangetsu
After a brief lunch break, the 3rd and 4th sessions took place. The junior grades sessions emphasized the Heian Nidan to Godan. Okuma Sensei used several kata sections to emphasize that the main intention for performing Kata was Kumite. In the senior grades’ sessions, he focused on the deeper meanings of Hangetsu. The dynamic switches from slow and smooth movements to fast and devastating techniques can be utilized as tactical elements of Kumite. Okuma Sensei showed how the tension from nervous movements will lead to a frantic confrontation. On the other hand, smoothness will calm down our opponent’s suspense. This creates the opportunity to strike, surprise and overwhelm opponents.
The first day closed with a joint Dinner at a Chinese buffet.
From Kata to Kumite: The 2nd Day of the Düsseldorf Special
The Mirror of Tekki Shodan
On Sunday morning, the junior and senior groups trained together. Okuma Sensei introduced the junior grades to Tekki Shodan. To leverage the learning experience, he instructed the Dan grades to be a mirror for the colored grades. Both groups faced each other, so that they learnt the kata much faster through observing their counterpart. Okuma Sensei emphasized the divergent movements of the kata in order to underline blocking and simultaneous counter attacking.
Legwork and Bassai Sho
The senior grades focused on legwork. In particular, Okuma Sensei taught the right pushing and pulling of the body. Starting with the Kata Bassai Sho, he used the sessions stress and repeat push and pull movements many times.
In last session of the seminar, all grades trained together again. The focus lied mainly on Zuki combinations with a partner in the final class. All the different topics of the before kata classes came coming merged in this session. It was the last step in preparation for kumite. Okuma Sensei began with Oi-Zuki-Gyaku-Zuki combinations. He remined all participants that the fists are important since they hit the opponent. However, it is all about leg work and the usage and feeling of the hips eventually. Okuma Sensei added to the Oi-Zucki-Gyaku-Zuki combination also a Kizami-Zuki-Gyaku-Zuki sequence, and later a Gyaku-Zuki-Gyaku-Zuki combination. The major aim was to increase speed and will power of the participants. The Seminar ended at 4 pm on Sunday.
Okumas Sensei Enjoyed the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
Sensei Koichiro Okuma stressed after the seminar, that all participants spent much effort and showed a strong will to learn during the classes. The atmosphere during the breaks and the dinner was warm and welcoming. He enjoyed his time in Düsseldorf a lot and met plenty of old and new friends.
Dietmar Vetten and Keigo Shimizu about the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
Dietmar Vetten, head of the organizing committee, and Sensei Keigo Shimizu, head instructor of the Dojo Yamato, also expressed their satisfaction with the event. “The atmosphere among the participants was just fantastic. Many wished for a 3rd Düsseldorf Special next year”, said Dietmar Vetten. “We are very glad to have welcomed such an esteemed and excellent JKA Instructor in Düsseldorf for the second time. Okuma Sensei is an excellent Karateka and an outstanding personality” commented Keigo Shimizu. Koichiro Okuma and Keigo Shimizu relates a long friendship that dates back to their time at Dokkyo University. Both studied in the University´s Karate Club under the guidance of Osaka Sensei and Naka Sensei.
Gratitude to the Volunteers
Okuma Sensei, Dietmar Vetten, and Keigo Shimizu expressed their gratitude to all the volunteers who made the event exciting and pleasant for everybody. A special thank you goes to Sandra „Sandy San“ Brenscheid, who conducted the warmup before the sessions.
3rd Düsseldorf Special?!
The planning for a 3rd Düsseldorf Special in 2020 has already began. As the people in Düsseldorf like to say: After the 3rd time, everything becomes a tradition.