It was a great honour to be invited to the Island Taekwon-Do Centre Anniversary Championship and 26th Anniversary Dinner again, as I truly enjoyed the opportunity last year, representing ITF Matsumoto.
The Championship was quite a spectacular event, growing bigger than last year. It is a wonderful opportunity to exchange technical expertise as quite a number of different ITF organizations from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan were present.
The Anniversary Dinner is always a delightful experience with many friends and family gathering to celebrate together. There is always fun events and delicious food that adds to our conversations that we never want to end, and time always feels too short.
The following day, on 11 March, I went to the ITC dojang from midday and was joined by Mr. Yasuo Tsuda, III dan, and Ms. Jules Takagishi, III dan, as well as Ms. Takagishi’s children. Master Spiridon Cariotis from Australia was also present as many ITC students of all ages and ranks gathered for the joint training session from 1 pm.
I was told that on normal Sundays, ITC students train from the morning, but as it was the day after the Championship and Anniversary Dinner, the training was combined into an extended afternoon session.
Master Daniel Sng invited Master Cariotis, Ms. Takagishi, and I split the class into three parts to share some of our training exercises with the group. It was my honor to take the second session.
The first session was led by Ms. Takagishi of ITF Hyogo JAPAN. The Chief Instructor there is Sabum Jong Sa Park, VI dan, who unfortunately could not make the trip this time. She led the class in stretching and various exercises focusing on keeping one’s balance with kicks and punches that were very well thought out and thorough. I observed that all the students were using their whole bodies and warmed up nicely, working up a healthy sweat. Ms. Takagishi’s enthusiastic guidance was very good as spurring everyone on. “Put your heart into it!” she shouted as we all kicked and thrusted.
I had the next session. I drew on what I observed at the Championship the day before and what I see often at overseas competitions – lots of punching. So I introduced exercises to train the eye to see the punches and to react quickly with blocks. The exercises were done in pairs, and we asked the adult students to keep changing partners so that they could continuously be on alert and not get too used to their partners.
I was impressed that everyone understood the objectives well and were able to execute the drill well. It was obvious that the ITC students train hard and well regularly, and they are able to focus on the objectives to get the most out of the sessions. Their solid foundation enables them to enjoy new challenges and master new skills quickly.
My English continues to be terrible, so I was grateful that Ms. Takagishi, who is fluent, volunteered to interpret for me. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to her for not just interpreting what I said, but supplementing my words so that subtle nuances were not missed. (There are so many people at ITC who are studying Japanese, I am never deprived of help. It destroys any incentive I may have to learn English, but I am very grateful for the support I receive from such ITC members as well.)
Last but not the least was Master Cariotis’s session.
I heard that Master Cariotis is a gold medalist in Special Techniques at a World Championship.
The session covered a wide range of topics including sparring techniques with emphasis on the importance of positioning, and many self-defense applications of the movements we learn in patterns.
I felt that every instructor not only shared his/her knowledge and experience, but also shared so much energy, passion, and sense of enjoyment. The explanations were thorough, and as a result, we went over the scheduled two hours by another hour!
I am working on sharing what I learned on this trip with my ITF Matsumoto members as I was able to take back many new ideas and exercises.
I am very grateful to Master Daniel Sng, who makes sure that we have the precious opportunity to learn from each other every time I visit. I would also like to thank all my friends at ITC from the bottom of my heart for making me feel welcome every time. Such experiences reinforce my great joy in sharing the journey of studying Taekwon-Do, this wonderful common path, with such generous people.
Written by Mr. Ken-ichi Nonaka, 6th Degree Black Belt, ITF Matsumoto, JAPAN
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018