Year In Review – December 23, 2016

Navigate by topic: Sydney | North Coast NSW | Brisbane | Japan 2017 | Closing

2016 was a year of new dojos, big seminars and eventful gradings for Kyokushin International Martial Arts Australia. Sydney hosted a lot of significant events, the North Coast competed in a range of tournaments and Brisbane expanded its operations to two dojos. All the hard work culminated in a massive week-long seminar with international guest instructor Shihan Ken Ogura, followed by the largest black belt grading in recent years, all while KIMAA seniors prepared for a Japan trip in early 2017.

SYDNEY, NSW

Sensei James Sidwell & Sensei Mark McFadden in the February Black Belt class.
Sensei James Sidwell & Sensei Mark McFadden in the February Black Belt class.

Students of both Turramurra and Annangrove dojos continued to up the pace and intensity of their training in 2016, whether focusing on kata and bunkai, or kumite and tournament skills. Students of Shihan Howard Lipman actively pursued the finer points of basics, kime (focus) and the core principles of training that affect one’s practice of the martial arts. Some Kobudo technique was also studied in preparation for the Shihan Ken Seminar, and those students attempting gradings also upped their fight training. Annangrove Dojo saw the introduction of its fitness classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights, giving KIMAA students the space to increase their fitness and bag work in tandem with focusing on their Kyokushin in the normal general classes.

The year began for students of Turramurra Dojo by celebrating the achievements of late 2015. Sensei Ben Ng and Sensei Donald Cheong received their 3rd Dan black belts and certificates following the November 2015 grading. These were awarded by Shihan Howard Lipman, KIMAA Chairman.

Senior training got off to a quick start, with the first KIMAA Black Belt Class being held in February. This was the first of four black belt classes for the year: each one had Kyokushin training on the Saturday and Kobudo on the Sunday. The others were held in May, June and September.

Four KIMAA weekend seminars were held in 2016, with the first held in Sydney. The KIMAA Sydney Seminar ran March 12-13 at Annangrove Dojo and was run by Shihan Rick Cunningham. Students came from all KIMAA dojos to participate, focusing on Kyokushin and Kobudo.

The first tournament entered by Sydney’s karateka was at the AKKA NSW State Tournament in May, with students from Turramurra and Annangrove dojos competing.

Sydney’s next major weekend, June 25-26, comprised three events. The first was a Black Belt Class was held at Turramurra Dojo on the Saturday morning. The class revised basics, breathing, partner work, bunkai and senior katas. Yudansha from up the coast and interstate – Sensei Mark McFadden, Sensei Jon Ellis and Sempai Rob James – joined the Sydney black belts for training.

The senior grading took place that afternoon. Among the grading applicants were Will Brook and Trish Tan from the North Coast, both going for 1st Kyu. All involved performed well. The next morning, the Kobudo class made use of Jonathan Lee’s photography skills to capture them in action in a photo shoot.

While the final black belt weekend session took place in September, Shihan Howard travelled to Queensland. He visited Sensei Matsumoto, a long-time friend of Shihan Howard and widely respected martial artist.

Shihan Rick Cunningham, Shihan Peter Olive, Shihan Ken Ogura & Shihan Howard Lipman, November 2016.
Shihan Rick Cunningham, Shihan Peter Olive, Shihan Ken Ogura & Shihan Howard Lipman, November 2016.

Knox Karate continued throughout 2016, with the final Knox grading for 2016 taking place on November 12. Shihan Howard conducted three gradings for the different classes within the Knox Karate cohort.

The biggest event in the KIMAA calendar for the year was undoubtedly the Shihan Ken Seminar. The KIMAA Japan Group Tour had met Shihan Ken at Sensei Hokama’s dojo in 2015. Shihan Howard invited Shihan Ken to teach in Australia, and Shihan Ken happily accepted.

Six classes were held over five days, November 16-21, including two full-day sessions on the weekend. These were attended by members from all six KIMAA dojos. The KIMAA karateka are all grateful for their time with Shihan Ken. Especially gratifying for KIMAA was Shihan Ken’s enthusiasm for the Australian students and his pride in what they accomplished during the week. It was a great honour to train with such a brilliant martial artist.

During the seminar, Sensei Peter Olive was promoted by Shihan Howard to 5th Dan, also giving him the title of “Shihan”. Congratulations to Shihan Peter – osu!

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Only two weeks later, a black belt grading was held at Turramurra Dojo. Shihan Howard and Shihan Rick assessed the students while Shihan Peter took the applicants from Annangrove, Turramurra and Lismore dojos through the grading. It was a long day, but in the end KIMAA had six students achieve new black belt grades: Nidan (2nd Dan) for Jason Lambe, and Shodan (1st Dan) for Jonathan Lee, Angus Sweeney, Joshua Darley, Victor Sweeney and Patricia Tan.

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It was a busy week for gradings in Sydney that week. Shihan Rick Cunningham took North Coast students Trish Tan and Wesley Snider through a Kobudo grading the next morning. On Wednesday December 7, Sensei James Sidwell held a Karate grading for the Turramurra Kids classes.

Turramurra Dojo's final class of 2016, on Monday December 19.
Turramurra Dojo’s final class of 2016, on Monday December 19.

Turramurra Dojo’s final class for 2016 was held on Monday December 19, with Shihan Howard Lipman instructing. Annangrove Dojo will continue on its holiday training timetable – dates are available in the calendar.

Shihan Howard and Shihan Rick are proud of all their students achieved in the year, and look forward to seeing how the hard training bears fruit in 2017.

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FAR NORTH COAST, NSW

Sensei Mark & Sempai Wally
Sensei Mark & Sempai Wally

KIMAA students from the Far North Coast had a packed year, kept busy by their head instructors Sensei Mark McFadden and Sensei Jon Ellis. Many weekends saw students tirelessly doing extra training for their next goal: tournaments, seminars or a grading, students were always in the dojo, getting sweaty and working hard.

The year began by celebrating a major achievement of the previous year, with Sempai Wally Gray receiving his 2nd Dan in Kyokushin. Sempai Wally was graded to Nidan in the November 2015 grading by Shihan Howard Lipman, and was awarded the grade in January 2016 by Sensei Mark.

Coming off the back of the Sydney seminar earlier that month, Kyokushin gradings were held on the last two days of March. Sensei Jon took Ballina Dojo students through a grading on March 30th while Sensei Mark ran Lismore Dojo students through the ring on March 31st.

Students from both dojos backed this up only days later by competing in the Frank Everett Memorial Tournament, where Mick Calnan earned his nickname “The Gumtree”.

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Valiant efforts by the North Coast karateka came in all shapes and sizes in 2016. Only a week after the Frank Everett tournament, Little Lion student Cooper competed in the first round of the National All Styles and came second in the Pee Wee Points Sparring division. Sensei Jon was very proud of Cooper’s efforts, who was coached on the day by Sempai Rob James.

The new Ballina Dojo.
The new Ballina Dojo.

Also in April was the opening of a new Ballina Dojo. The large, impressive new dojo is a proud expansion of KIMAA’s operations on the North Coast.

The second KIMAA seminar of the year was held at Lismore Dojo on the weekend of April 16-17. Shihan Rick Cunningham travelled from Sydney to conduct the seminar, hosted by Sensei Mark. Shihan Rick ran students through bunkai from the Pinan katas and Naihanchi. This was followed by a Kobudo grading the next morning, and a Little Lions session.

The North Coast karateka maintained their efforts in the National All Styles competitions, with a small team participating in May.

The following month, on the afternoon of June 25, a senior Kyokushin grading was held in Sydney. Will Brook from Ballina Dojo and Patricia Tan from Lismore Dojo were the senior students participating in the grading. Shihan Howard graded them both to 1st Kyu.

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The KIMAA team at the Gold Coast Budo Challenge, October 2016.

KIMAA’s North Coast students are never ones to shy away from another tournament! At the Gold Coast Budo Challenge in October, Sensei Jon led a team from Ballina Dojo and Sempai Wally the group from Lismore Dojo. Sensei Jon told the students to “enjoy the tournament, the atmosphere, whether it is your first or 31st” and that the results were second to effort and having a good time. All put in their best and thoroughly enjoyed themselves – but the results came too! Gold trophies were taken out in three divisions, and Trish Tan came third place in a kata division.

Next on the North Coast calendar was the Ballina Seminar, hosted by Sensei Jon and taught once again by Shihan Rick.

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Lismore and Ballina students were down the coast a lot in November and December for the major events being held in Sydney. Sensei Mark and Sensei Jon spent November 16-21 in Sydney to participate in all five general classes and the black belt-only class in the Shihan Ken Seminar. They also made the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb with Shihan Ken, along with Shihan Rick as well. Students from Lismore and Ballina attended the Friday night general class, as well as the all-day sessions on the Saturday and Sunday.

Two weeks later, students from the North Coast participated in the Black Belt Grading at Turramurra Dojo. This included Patricia Tan achieving her Shodan (1st Dan) in Kyokushin.

The North Coast dojos finished their year with a bang, undertaking a combined Kyokushin grading in December. Sensei Mark and Sensei Jon assessed the students while Sempai Wally, Sempai Patricia and Will ran the students through the grading. Well done to all involved for an excellent end-of-year workout and celebration.

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BRISBANE, QLD

Sempai Rob James and his Little Lion champions.
Sempai Rob James and his Little Lion champions.

2016 saw KIMAA‘s operations in Brisbane massively expand under the leadership of dojo operator Sempai Rob James.

Along with students from the North Coast, eight of Sempai Rob’s Little Lions competed in the Frank Everett Memorial Tournament, with three winning placements.

Sempai Rob James with Kancho Jim Casey at the NAS.
Sempai Rob James with Kancho Jim Casey at the NAS.

Sempai Rob not only kept the pressure on his students to keep reaching new goals, but always furthered his own personal goals as well. Sempai Rob competed in the Open Black Belt and Veterans divisions of the National All Styles, placing 4th in the Open Black Belt division by performing the Kyokushin kata Seienchin.

In July, Sempai Rob sought to relocate Aspley Dojo. As part of the move to Kedron, Sempai Rob formally closed Aspley Dojo and reopened in Kedron as North Brisbane Dojo. The new home is a bigger and better training facility for Sempai Rob’s students to get the most out of their Karate sessions.

Amanda Bolger with the Eeku.
Amanda Bolger with the Eeku.

Sempai Rob not only upgraded KIMAA’s Brisbane presence, but doubled it, by opening a second dojo. Nundah Dojo was opened shortly after the opening of North Brisbane. Classes at both dojos are run by Sempai Rob.

Sempai Rob and his student Amanda Bolger travelled to Sydney in late June for a big weekend. Sempai Rob trained in the Turramurra black belt class on the morning of June 25. That afternoon, he watched Amanda participate in the senior Kyokushin grading, whom was assessed by Shihan Howard Lipman. Both trained in the Kobudo class the next morning at Annangrove Dojo with Shihan Rick Cunningham.

The next month, Sempai Rob hosted the third KIMAA seminar for 2016. The seminar, for students of North Brisbane and Nundah dojos, was taught by guest instructor Shihan Rick Cunningham, an experience that pushed them but was thoroughly enjoyed.

Sempai Rob then made it to Sydney in November for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday sessions of the Shihan Ken Seminar.

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JAPAN 2017

KIMAA’s senior Kobudo students have been in hard training preparation all year for the January 2017 Japan Group Tour.

Shihan Howard and his students have enjoyed a long, respectful relationship and close friendship with Sensei Hokama over the years. Shihan Howard arranged the trip for he and his students to train with Sensei, and Shihan Ken, once again in Naha, Okinawa. Sensei Hokama was pleased, as always, to welcome back the Australian team.

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The bulk of the group will fly out from Sydney on the night of January 7 to sightsee in Tokyo, Yudanaka and Nagano, before meeting with Shihan Howard and his wife Masumi in Kyoto. After a few nights there, the core karateka will travel to Okinawa for training with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ken, for some to participate in a Kobudo grading, and all will attend the World Karate Tournament. Everyone will arrive back on the morning of January 24th.

Going on the trip are:

We wish everyone good luck! For students at Turramurra, Annangrove, Lismore and Ballina dojos, please find out from your instructor if any class times are affected by the seniors being away in Japan.
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CLOSING

KIMAA dojo operators with Shihan Ken, November 2016: Sensei Mark McFadden, Shihan Rick Cunningham, Shihan Ken Ogura, Shihan Howard Lipman, Sensei Jon Ellis & Sempai Rob James.
KIMAA dojo operators with Shihan Ken, November 2016: Sensei Mark McFadden, Shihan Rick Cunningham, Shihan Ken Ogura, Shihan Howard Lipman, Sensei Jon Ellis & Sempai Rob James.

2016 was a diverse year of expansion, hard training and achieving goals. Improvement of Karate technique was consolidated, finesse and speed in weapons were improved, tournaments were competed in, gradings were accomplished and five massive seminars were held, the final one with Shihan Ken being the most special of all in the last few years. Thank you to all the students who gave it a go throughout the year – you make KIMAA.

Big thanks must go to the dojo operators and other instructors for continuing to develop their students and push out new goals, for the dojo and themselves as expert martial artists. Shihan Howard, Shihan Rick and Shihan Peter provide incredible leadership for KIMAA, as do the other dojo operators Sensei Mark, Sensei Jon and Sempai Rob.

KIMAA wishes a safe and happy holidays to all. We look forward to seeing you back at training in 2017. Osu!

Shihan Ken and the Saturday class.
Shihan Ken and the Saturday class.