Tuesday 9th September 2014 10:30am, at Malta International Airport
Fourteen of SKA’s black belts board the plane with Sensei Edward, all eager and ready for a week of hard training in London. Sensei David and Sempai Keith, seated on either side of Sensei Edward, started the trip with a spontaneous, custom-made kata application training session from a seating position. After 3 hours of flight, a bus ride, a missed train, hours of waiting and dragging luggages, we finally arrive safely at our hostel in Shepherd’s Bush at 5pm. Despite our hunger and aching muscles, we packed our Gis and headed to Oasis SKC for our first training session with JKA England’s Sensei Ohta.
The SKA team before departing from the Malta International Airport
After a short walk from Holborn station, it was heartwarming to finally see the familiar Oasis neon lights in High Holborn Street. We were immediately greeted by Sensei Ohta and his black belts on arrival and given permission to join the class. The dojo at Oasis is always packed, so with much surprise they managed to squeeze an additional 14 of us. We first practiced kihon, with emphasis on hip, heel and toe movement to shift stances. We then applied these in one step kumite with two opponents and ended the session with Kata Jion, and Kata Sochin. There were many familiar faces and many came to welcome us after the session.
The next day we set off early to Oasis SKC after an ‘ok’ breakfast for some tea-time Karate at 11am. We were once again welcomed by Sensei Ohta and several black belts, and later also joined by Sensei Tomlin. The session started with good strong kihon, basic one step kumite and was rounded off by some bunkai and Kata Chinte. Later, we accompanied Sensei Tomlin for some lunch where we enjoyed another 3 hours of karate discussion. After a short walk to the Big Ben we headed back to Shepherd’s bush to conclude our day with further karate discussions over dinner.
On Thursday, we were back at Oasis SKC for another session which was started off by Sempai Laura Steadman with some kihon repetitions, shifting stances and some light sparring for warm up. The session then turned into a dynamic kumite practice by Sensei Paul Steadman. There was a great atmosphere, everyone gave their maximum effort and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Friday was time for some more karate discussions. We met Sensei Tomlin at Covent Garden and joined him again for lunch after a short walk to Tottenham Court Road. There was much to talk about, amidst which stories of the late Sensei Enoeda, JKA England in the 1980s and the current JKA Japan came up frequently during our conversation. Later in the afternoon, we also had time for some rowing in Hyde Park and enjoyed a walk through its vast gardens.
Saturday saw us wandering around London. We even had the time to enter the London Dungeons and enjoy an impromptu comedy show. At 6pm an important SKA meeting was held with Sensei, long hours of discussion and active feedback followed and continued till late night.
We returned back to Malta on Sunday 14th ready to deploy prospective developments for our association. The trip turned out to be a great success. Living karate as a way of life throughout this week, was something, I am sure, everyone of us longed for. We are all immensely grateful for the time Sensei Edward dedicated to us throughout this week, as always, and we look forward to returning to England for our next SKA trips in 2015.