Autism Classes – Brisbane KIMAA

In 2018, Sensei Rob James began running Kyokushin Karate classes for children on the autism spectrum. Sensei Rob is a KIMAA accredited dojo operator based in Brisbane, Queensland, who first began training with Hanshi Howard Lipman almost three decades ago.

Sensei Rob commenced these classes as he believes in the power of martial arts to make a difference. He has had a few kids on the spectrum pass through his dojo over the years, and they were all stand outs. “Every single one of them.” Sensei Rob was inspired to promote and dedicate classes for these children. He ended up with 8 kids in the 8-week trial period at the Pine Rivers PCYC.

Some of the children in the classes would not even speak, yet every student was committing to a loud kiai after only one class. They were all enthusiastic and took to Sensei Rob without much effort. From there, everything flowed into a very relaxing atmosphere. They handled the etiquette and discipline with aplomb, as a clear structure often does for children on the spectrum.

The classes comprise everything from basic technique and fitness to studying the movements of the first forms (kata), and even some self-defence applications.

Sensei Rob will resume these classes in the very near future. All enquiries should be directed to Sensei at the contact details on the Brisbane Dojo page.

Sensei Rob James with students after one of the classes.

Sydney KIMAA Seminar – March 23-24, 2019

Shihan Rick Cunningham demonstrates bunkai at the KIMAA seminar.

On the weekend of March 23-24, 2019, the first KIMAA seminar of the year was held at Sydney’s Annangrove Dojo, run by Hanshi Howard Lipman and Shihan Rick Cunningham. Karateka from across New South Wales and Queensland KIMAA dojos attended the weekend.

On the Saturday morning, Hanshi Howard led a basics and bunkai session. The focus was on correcting students’ technique, as Hanshi stressed the importance of maintaining Sosai’s legacy for perfection. This included blocking combinations, and moving backwards and forwards in stance.

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As the day continued, students were broken up by grade. Juniors focused on kata, both new forms and revision of existing patterns. The seniors were given a lesson in competition judging, specifically in tournament refereeing.

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Sunday saw a revision of Saturday’s lessons. Sempai Patricia Tan began the session with a Tai Chi muscle warm-up before the class got into basics again. This was followed by more kata and bunkai.

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Thank you to all who participated in the seminar. Photography and videography by Sempai Jonathan Lee.

Year In Review – December 20, 2018

For Kyokushin International Martial Arts Australia, 2018 was a year of consolidating knowledge, pursuing higher technical ability and pushing new goals in tournaments.

Sempai Jason Lambe and Sempai Patricia Tan during the Sydney KIMAA Seminar.

Three major seminars were held. The first took place in Sydney, at Shihan Rick Cunningham’s Annangrove Dojo. The seminar focused on all things Kyokushin – kihon (basics), kata (forms), kumite (sparring) and tameshiwari (board breaking). The seminar had students from all the New South Wales dojos in attendance. Some standout board breaking performances in the video below include Sensei Ben Ng, Sempai Jason Lambe, Sempai Joshua Darley and Sempai Angus Sweeney.

Wesley Snider of Lismore Dojo tests his flexibility in the North Coast KIMAA Seminar.

Training continued at a relentless pace in the lead-up to junior and senior gradings in May and June. In May, Hanshi Howard Lipman taught at the KIMAA North Coast Seminar, hosted at both Sensei Mark McFadden’s Lismore Dojo and Sensei Jon Ellis’s Ballina Dojo. Sensei Rob James and students of his Brisbane Dojo also participated. This was Hanshi’s second North Coast trip in as many years. The junior grades and those unable to make the Sydney trips thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being taught by the head of KIMAA. The seminar ended with a junior grading, where Hanshi assessed the students.

Sensei Alex Lloyd during the grading.

The senior Kyokushin grading in June brought members from KIMAA back together. Karateka from Turramurra, Annangrove, Lismore and Young dojos were all assessed by Hanshi. Sean Stevens had the honour – and the pressure – of being the first student from Young Dojo, having become part of KIMAA last year, to be assessed at a KIMAA senior grading. Despite some nerves, Sean took on the challenge. Wesley Snider of Lismore, despite suffering bronchitis, stepped up and achieved the rank of 1st Kyu. And two students from Turramurra received new black belt grades: Jasper Choi fought through the 40 fights for Shodan (1st Dan), becoming a Sempai; and Alex Lloyd reached the rank of Sandan (3rd Dan), becoming a Sensei.

Sempai Jasper and Sensei Alex also wrote essays for their gradings, published on the KIMAA website: ‘Growing Up With the Martial Arts’ and ‘The Role of Teaching in the Development of a Martial Artist’.

Shihan Peter Olive instructing.

In between the major calendar events, each dojo continued the hard work. The Sydney KIMAA yudansha (black belt grades) came together when they could to train. Two dedicated classes were held at Turramurra Dojo in February and August. At Turramurra, Hanshi Howard pushed his senior grades to take up the mantle of teaching on more occasions, with the General classes rotating between the instruction of Hanshi, Shihan Peter Olive, Shihan Idir Bahamid, Sensei Mark Shelmerdine, Sensei James Sidwell, Sensei Ben and Sensei Alex. Sempai Jasper, in the lead up to his grading and in the months following, became an integral part of the Kids classes, either as instructor or in assistance to Hanshi Howard and Sensei James – despite undergoing his Year 12 Higher School Certificate. Annangrove Dojo, meanwhile, saw an expansion of its timetable, with Sempai Jason beginning Saturday morning classes, providing more opportunities for Annangrove students to train. This is an excellent step for a young Nidan (2nd Dan) who, under the tutelage of Shihan Rick, Shihan Peter, Sensei Paul Finnerty and Sensei Ian Holdaway, is beginning to walk the long path of teaching.

Jermaine Downs, of Brisbane Dojo, at the North Coast KIMAA Seminar.

Similar efforts were replicated at Sensei Rob James’s Brisbane Dojo, with Sensei Rob’s senior student, then-1st kyu Jermaine Downs, being a significant support in the adults and Little Lions classes. Sensei Rob also chose to embrace the reputation of the ‘Sunshine State’, regularly taking his students to outdoor training sessions. By exposing his students to different environments, it takes them out of their comfort zones and increases awareness in training. Another significant initiative undertaken by Sensei Rob was the commencement of martial arts classes specifically tailored for children on the autism spectrum. These were conducted at the Pine Rivers PCYC and will resume in January 2019 – interested parties should contact Sensei Rob at his number listed on this page.

KIMAA North Coast Little Lions at the NAS.

Between their own seminar and travelling to Sydney for seminars and gradings, the North Coast calendar was already full. But that was hardly an obstacle for these karateka. Students of Lismore are regular competitors at the National All Styles tournaments, which continued through 2018. Under the tutelage of Sensei Mark McFadden, Sempai Wally Gray and Sempai Patricia Tan, many Little Lions gave it a crack both on the sparring mats and in kata demonstrations. Ballina Dojo had an exciting relocation – and space upgrade. The new dojo opened in August, with Sensei Jon Ellis receiving great assistance from his loyal brown belts and ‘dojo sergeant major’ Larissa Watson.

Following the 2017 introduction of Naihanchi kata into the KIMAA syllabus, honing this kata was a focal point of training throughout the year for all KIMAA students, under Shihan Idir’s supervision.

Sensei Mark Shelmerdine runs through the Bo with students at the Shihan Ken Seminar.

The study of Okinawan Kobudo continued in 2018 across KIMAA. In Brisbane, Sensei Rob ran Kobudo study groups during the year, focusing primarily on the Bo staff. Sensei Dave and others at Young Dojo gained further exposure to Kobudo during Sydney seminars. The North Coast and Sydney Kobudo classes ran regularly, with chief instructors being Sensei Mark McFadden and Sensei Jon Ellis, and Shihan Rick Cunningham and Sensei Mark Shelmerdine respectively. The North Coast junior Kobudo students continued to expand their kata repertoire, while the seniors particularly focused on the new Eku kata taught at the 2017 Shihan Ken Seminar. In August, Hanshi Howard Lipman graded Sensei Alex Lloyd to 3rd Dan and Sensei James Sidwell to 2nd Dan in Kobudo, which was certified by Sensei Hokama.

Shihan Ken Ogura demonstrates bunkai with Sempai James Campbell.

The penultimate calendar event that brought the dojos together was the 2018 Shihan Ken Seminar. This was the third Australian seminar featuring Shihan Ken Ogura as the guest instructor, following the 2016 and 2017 seminars, and the 2015 and 2017 Japan trips. Over the course of the week, Shihan Ken exhaustively went through kata, bunkai (self-defence applications) and Kobudo with karateka of all grade levels from the New South Wales dojos, and some guests from other organisations. The seminar was a highlight of the year, and exemplifies the ongoing relationships between KIMAA and Japan.

Sensei David Craigie with Josh and Damon at the KIKO Tournament.

Throughout the course of the year, Sensei David Craigie at Young Dojo had his students hard at work on their kumite, with an eye to competing in tournaments. Josh Galea and Damon Townsend competed in a local Griffith tournament in September, both placing First in their respective divisions. Josh powered through his opponents, while Damon executed a brilliant knock-out kick. They followed this up in November, at the KIKO National Tournament held in Sydney by Kancho Doug Turnbull. Josh and Damon again took First places, returning to Young with a delighted Sensei and the news that they were national champions.

Sempai Jermaine Downs and Hanshi Howard Lipman after the grading.

The second senior Kyokushin grading was the final calendar event to bring the KIMAA dojos together. It was held at Turramurra in December. Students from Sydney, Brisbane and the North Coast participated in the grading, conducted by Shihan Peter, Shihan Idir and assessed by Hanshi Howard. All students performed admirably, including the new black belt grades: Sempai Josh Darley (Nidan), Sempai Stephen Runge (Shodan), Sempai Jermaine Downs (Shodan), Sempai Bernard Wilson (Shodan) and Sempai Cody Choi (Shodan). This grading notably resulted in the first Black Belt produced by Sensei Rob and Brisbane Dojo – Sempai Jermaine.

Hanshi Howard Lipman, Sempai Cody Choi, Sempai Josh Darley, Sempai Bernard Wilson, Sempai Jermaine Downs & Sempai Stephen Runge

You can read Hanshi Howard’s report on the 2018 Yudansha gradings here, on Facebook.

The North Coast end-of-year session.

Following the grading in Sydney, the North Coast crew conducted their usual end-of-year Kyokushin training and grading session, celebrating at the end with Student of the Year awards.

KIMAA’s year was made up by its dedicated students continuing to push hard at their martial arts – whether it was for a tournament, a grading or simply their own self-development. Thank you as always to the dojo operators and instructors for keeping things running smoothly. The best way to summarise the year, the milestones reached and the fun that was had, is with the latest KIMAA video below. Have a wonderful holiday season all, and see you in 2019.

Hanshi Howard Lipman: “I wish all students and instructors a happy Christmas and New Year. Best wishes to all.”

Senior Grading – December 8, 2018

The second senior Kyokushin grading of 2018 was held at KIMAA‘s Honbu, Turramurra Dojo. Hanshi Howard Lipman assessed the students while Shihan Peter Olive conducted the grading.

Jermaine Downs arriving at Turramurra Dojo, from Brisbane, ahead of the grading.

Participants came from Turramurra, Annangrove Dojo, Young Dojo and Brisbane Dojo. Sensei David Craigie and Sensei Rob James shepherded their students from afar, and Sensei Mark McFadden and Sempai Patricia Tan of Lismore Dojo also came down to support those attempting new grades.

Four students were attempted their 1st Dan Black Belt, which led of course to the world-renowned Kyokushin 40 fights.

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Hearty efforts were put in by all students. Congratulations to all the senior kyu grades. Special recognition goes to the Yudansha:

  • Sempai Joshua Darley, Nidan
  • Sempai Stephen Runge, Shodan
  • Sempai Jermaine Downs, Shodan
  • Sempai Bernard Wilson, Shodan
  • Sempai Cody Choi, Shodan

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Sempai Jermaine Downs and Hanshi Howard Lipman after the grading.

Sempai Jermaine is a hard-working, strong, diligent student from Brisbane Dojo. He is the first to reach Shodan from Brisbane, under the tutelage of Sensei Rob James. Sempai Jermaine has balanced his Kyokushin training with work and family commitments, but always attended seminars when he is able, and has been a strong deputy to Sensei Rob. He is a highly a capable fighter, budding instructor and good martial artist, with a bright future ahead of him. Congratulations Sempai Jermaine, and Sensei Rob on bringing your first student to back belt.

Sempai Cody is one of a crop of promising young KIMAA karateka who have, after years of dedicated training under Hanshi Howard and Sensei James Sidwell, persisted and worked in the adult General Classes towards the goal of Shodan. He has previously competed in tournaments.

Sempai Bernard also has much tournament experience and trained with increasing intensity over the years, becoming a strong young man with many years of excellent Karate ahead of him.

Sempai Stephen has been training at Turramurra Dojo for a long time, despite persistent injuries. His dedicated attitude to training despite obstacles has not gone unnoticed. He has also become a regular assistant instructor in the Kids classes and to newcomers in the General classes. He is an invaluable presence at the dojo, and a good Karate man.

Sempai Josh Darley during the grading.

Sempai Josh began his Karate training in 2012 and has been an impressive young personality at Turramurra Dojo since the beginning. He has fought in tournaments, trained with Shihan Ken Ogura, done tameshiwari and regularly pushed himself to the next level of technical excellence. He has applied himself diligently in his training to Nidan, as he did for Shodan. While it is rare for one so young to be a Nidan, he has certainly earned the grade in the eyes of the seniors.

That night, everyone celebrated with the Turramurra Christmas Party – with all those out-of-town and grading invited along, of course.

Hanshi Howard Lipman, Sempai Cody Choi, Sempai Josh Darley, Sempai Bernard Wilson, Sempai Jermaine Downs & Sempai Stephen Runge

Congratulations to all who participated in the grading – a strong, fine way to end the year.

KIMAA North Coast Seminar – May 5-6, 2018

On the weekend of May 5-6, the second KIMAA seminar of the year was held at the Far North Coast NSW dojos.

Students from the North Coast dojos led by Sensei Mark McFadden and Sensei Jon Ellis attended in large numbers. A small contingent from Queensland, led by Sensei Rob James, travelled down for the weekend, too. Leading the seminar was Hanshi Howard Lipman, who flew up from Sydney on the Friday for the event with Sempai Alex Lloyd.

Seminar black belts: Sempai Wally Gray, Sensei Jon Ellis, Hanshi Howard Lipman, Sempai Alex Lloyd, Sempai Patricia Tan and Sensei Rob James.

Saturday morning kicked off at Sensei Jon’s Ballina Dojo. Adults and Little Lions came together to for the general class in kihon (basics) and kata (pattern) under Hanshi. Strikes, blocks and kicks were practised at length, examining the finer points of each technique. The students gained a new appreciation for how much goes into every aspect of Karate. They next applied these tips for technical precision into fighting drills. The class also performed some kata, and learned new partner-stretching moves.

The Saturday morning session.

That afternoon, a class for senior grades and a select couple of juniors was held at Sensei Mark’s Lismore Dojo. Hanshi continued the fighting drills lesson from the morning before Sempai Alex led the group through various kata: Yantsu, Pinan sono Go, Naihanchi and various kata in Ura. A few senior basic techniques were revised before the session finished.

The Saturday afternoon session.

Sensei Jon and his wife Tabby generously held a group dinner at their home in Ballina.

Sunday featured a three-hour Kyokushin grading for junior adult kyu grades and the Little Lions. Hanshi Howard, Sensei Mark, Sensei Jon and Sensei Rob assessed the students while Sempai Alex led the grading. It was an intense morning, technically focused, fast and entailed a large number of push-ups.

Hanshi was delighted to pass everyone who attempted the grading. Students were awarded their belts that day. Special congratulations go to Blayne and Anthony, who were double-graded to senior yellow belt (5th Kyu). Special mention also must go to 1st kyu Jermaine Downs of North Brisbane Dojo, who exhibited excellent form over the weekend.

The karate class after the grading on Sunday.

A Kobudo class was conducted after the grading for interested students. Sempai Alex took the group through the finer technical points of the Bo staff, focusing on basic strikes as well as the first exercise and Kihon kata.

Sempai Trish and Wesley lead the Kobudo class.
Sensei Jon Ellis and Sensei Mark McFadden during the grading.

It was an outstanding weekend organised by Sensei Jon and Sensei Mark. Thanks go to the North Coast dojo operators for use of their facilities, and to Sempai Wally Gray, Sempai Patricia Tan and Larissa Watson for their assistance as well. The North Coast students who don’t normally get to make the trips to Sydney enjoyed the opportunity to train with the head of the organisation, Hanshi Howard Lipman, which made it a memorable experience for all.

Dojo operators Sensei Jon Ellis, Sensei Rob James and Sensei Mark McFadden with KIMAA Chairman Hanshi Howard Lipman.

KIMAA Sydney Seminar – March 10-11, 2018

The first KIMAA seminar of 2018 was held in Sydney, on the weekend of March 10-11, at Annangrove Dojo.

The focus of the seminar was Kyokushin Karate. Kihon and kata were practised at length, interspersed with fitness and sparring sessions. Tameshiwari (board breaking) and Kobudo (weapons) were also undertaken.

Instructors, adult students and Little Lions of all KIMAA dojos were in attendance. The North Coast dojos of Lismore and Ballina were in fine form as usual, led by Sensei Mark McFadden and Sempai Patricia Tan. Little Lions from the North Brisbane Dojo made the journey to Sydney. Students of Young Dojo, under Sensei David Craigie, returned to Sydney for their first seminar as fully fledged KIMAA Karateka.

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Saturday kicked off with an intense basics session with Shihan Rick Cunningham and Shihan Peter Olive. After everyone was suitably sweaty, the class turned its attention to partner work, Sanbon Kumite, leg blocks and defence, and bunkai from Pinan Ni.

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After lunch, the seminar broke up into groups. Students not attempting a board break were assigned to a particular group and instructor to revise kata pertinent to their grade level.

For everyone else, Hanshi Howard Lipman led the class through tameshiwari. Hanshi introduced first-timers to the basics of board breaking, while more experienced karateka got some pointers before attempting larger breaks and multi-board combinations.

The class then recombined for an intense bag session, where students rotated through pairings to practise their roundhouse kicks.

Next was the Naihanchi kata. Shihan Idir Bahamid took the seminar through the kata, emphasising the importance of a solid stance and correct focus in the execution of techniques.

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After studying the kata, the group loosened up for kumite. Kyu grades and the Little Lions had turns sparring the black belts. A few egos were bruised, but everyone enjoyed and learned from the experience.

The seminar group on the Saturday.

That evening, Shihan Rick hosted a dinner for the out-of-Sydney guests and senior grades.

The next morning began with a suitably tiring basics session, led by Hanshi Howard.

After the basics, the seminar spent the rest of the day on self-defence, fighting techniques and kata revision, often broken into smaller groups by grade level. The group also revisited Naihanchi kata. The Kyokushin focus was briefly interrupted for a Kobudo session. Students had the option of learning a Bo, Sai or Eku kata, dependent on their experience level.

The class finished up after a final group session. The KIMAA seminars continue to be an important feature on the calendar for students to interact with members from other parts of the organisation, and for the instructors to ensure unity in technical standards and Kyokushin spirit. Thanks go to all the organisers, and those who made the effort to travel to Sydney.

The next KIMAA seminar is at the North Coast in May.