A group of students and instructors joined with our fellow karate-ka for the JKA/WF America for our National Camp and Tournament June 21-24. It was, as always, a wonderful experience. There were 13 from our region, and 9 from Arizona JKA.

Training started Thursday afternoon with a two-hour session. The first hour was taught by Master Ueki, Chief Instructor of the Japan Karate Association. Master Ueki’s first class focused on the variety of tsuki waza or punching techniques, and uchi waza or striking techniques. There are so many different types of punches and strikes, and it is important to learn them all. We do learn most of them through training in kata, but it is good to go through them all. The second hour was taught by Master Koyama, and focused on moving basics, which Master Koyama often teaches through a modified taikiyoku shodan, the first kata that students learn. Master Koyama also focused on performing kata as though it were kumite; it is important to remember that kata is not a dance, but preparation for kumite.

Using combinations and techniques from kata for kumite was the theme of the two Friday sessions. Sensei Nagatomo and Master Ueki taught the black belt groups, and Sensei Dhawan taught the color belt group in variations on this theme. This allowed for working both kata and work in pairs on various kumite combinations. In some cases, we worked specifically on the bunkai or application of the kata; in other instances, we were encouraged to see what other interpretations of those combinations might work in kumite. The classes also focused on some of the core katas for black belt levels, especially Bassai Dai and Jion. Friday’s training was intense, with two two-hour blocks separated by only one hour!

Saturday morning the black belt training focused on specific kata especially for those who were testing for dan rankings later that morning. Master Ueki went through many details of several advanced kata, particularly Gojushiho ShoSochin, and Nijushiho. One of the great benefits of having Master Ueki come from Tokyo for camps is for us to learn the subtle changes in the kata, and to learn the most up-to-date counts. Master Ueki also helps us to make some subtle corrections on the path of techniques, movement, and other fine details that make our karate more accurately reflect JKA standards. The rest of Saturday was taken up with dan and qualification testing, and the tournament. Those who competed performed very well! Kaitlin got third place in both Women’s Adult Black Belt kata and kumite; Raul placed third in Men’s Kata and Kumite, and Hideki placed second in Men’s Kumite. Saturday concluded with a banquet honoring Master Koyama, who will retire this year.

Sunday concluded with more training and the final tournament event, team kata. Team AJKA came so close, only a few tenths of a point from third place! We also learned the results of Saturday’s testing. We are happy to report that everyone passed their exams! Congratulations to:

Raul Andaya: Instructor D

Bobby Quihuis: Examiner D

Jackie Martinez: Instructor B

Kaitlin Baudier: Sandan

Rolf Lohr: Godan and Instructor B

Now we are all looking forward to the Payson camp and to next year’s National camp!