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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Report by Andy Marsh 5th Dan,

Chief Instructor for ASK Canada


Dave Hazard 7th dan - Photograph by Bernard Rose


On the weekend of November 7th, 8th and 9th  the Academy of Shotokan Karate Canada held the first fall seminar with Sensei Dave Hazard. This is the first time ASK Canada has held spring and fall seminars in the same calendar year. The seminar combined classes for ASK members and invited guests.


The weekend kicked off Friday evening with a class for all ASK members. Sensei taught how to correctly use the hip when moving backwards in front stance and how the same mechanics are used in punching when moving forward. Correct use and technique of the ready position was taught. The insights to these fundaments were greatly appreciated by all students and in particular the senior students.


The second half of the class was a review of the kata Heian Sandan. Before practicing the kata a couple of key techniques were taught in isolation. Those being the double block at the start of the kata and the use of the pressing block before striking with spear hand.


Sensei’s instruction of Heian Sandan brought the kata to life and he emphasized how each technique had to work practically and how sequences of techniques worked together to defeat the attacker. In particular the throw at the end of kata was explained and was a real insight of the practical nature of Shotokan kata. Sensei concluded the class with a demonstration of how kata can be practiced in very confined spaces by adapting the stance changes without loosing the context or techniques of the kata. No more excuses about lack of space! A great start to the weekend.


Saturday’s classes were open to ASK members and invited guests. ASK Canada would like to thank everyone that attended. The first class of the day was for all grades. Sensei covered the use of the hip in choku-zuki and oi-zuki before moving on to an exercise on alternative stepping when punching oi-zuki and blocking age-uke. In talking with the participants after class it was clear that everyone from beginner to the most senior Dan grades learnt something new that could help them improve their fundamental techniques.


The second class of the day was the Black and Brown Belt class. In this class Sensei taught the kata Enpi. Sensei Hazard explained and demonstrated the techniques that are unique to this kata. The opening sequence was studied in detail and then applied against an opponent. The techniques were applied in a situation where the defender literally had his, or her back against a wall. The class then practiced applying this. The use of the reaction hand as an aide in close quarter blocking was introduced and then practiced using gedan-barai and shuto-uke within the kata. Sensei clearly demonstrated how the techniques of the kata Enpi are intended to be used as a highly effective fighting system and how these techniques define the nature of the kata as “Flight of the Swallow”.


Saturday concluded with a grading for ASK members. Sensei Hazard sets high standards for ASK members and leads by example. All the students at the Kyu grading tried their best to meet or exceed these standards resulting in a very successful grading for ASK Canada.


In addition Sensei Hazard announced that Sensei Andy Marsh had been promoted to Godan, and Sensei Julie Marsh had successfully passed her Yondan grading.  Great news for ASK Canada. Having these senior grade instructors will help to further raise the profile of the organization.


Sunday’s first class was for all grades.  Sensei Hazard began the class with a thorough review of shuto-uke and kokutsu-dachi.  We reviewed the correct way of forming the knife hand. We then moved on to cover how the block is executed correctly before moving on to utilizing the block while in back stance. We then practiced applying the block against an attacker and countering with an arm lock.


In the second half of the class side kicks were also covered in great detail. Sensei described how to correctly align the hip for keage and kekomi, and the differences between the two.  Sensei then demonstrated how they differed in application range. The class then practiced these kicks in pairs, firstly in a basic form, and then incorporating shuto-uke in back stance as a block before delivering a counter with the side kick. Once again the class seemed to fly by.  At the end of class sensei Hazard advised us not to try and remember everything but to take away one point from the class that we should work on improving.


The final class of the weekend was for black and brown belts, and in this class Sensei Hazard covered the kata Hangetsu. We started with the reviewing the fundamentals of breathing correctly, hangetsu stance, and then moved on to the techniques of the kata. The controlled breathing sequence that forms the initial set of the kata was practiced individually before working in pairs where we tested each other using a method taught to us by Sensei. As always the kata class with sensei Hazard had lots of opportunity to practice application and the practical use of the kata techniques.  One area that was new to many students in the use of the legs to block low kicks. As Sensei demonstrated, Hangetsu contains such techniques for dealing with low kicks.  We then had the opportunity to practice applying them ourselves.


All too quickly the weekend had passed. The sheer amount of detailed information that Sensei Hazard manages to get across at these seminars is awe inspiring. All of the ASK students from Chikara and Otakebi as well as our invited guests had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.  We’d like to thank everyone for their support and look forward to sensei Hazard’s next visit in May 2009.


Andy Marsh