Sydney IFKKA Tournament – May 21, 2017

KIMAA students of Turramurra Dojo participated in the IFKKA full-contact Kyokushin tournament on Sunday May 21st.

The competitors included Sempai Angus and Sempai Victor Sweeney, Sempai Josh Darley, Jasper and Cody Choi, Ethan Bailey and Andrew Palmer.

KIMAA competitors and instructors at the IFKKA Tournament.

Instructors, coaches and supporters included Shihan Howard Lipman and his wife Masumi, Shihan Peter Olive, Sensei Idir Bahamid, Sensei James Sidwell, Sensei Ben Ng, Sensei Don Cheong and Sempai Alex Lloyd.

All KIMAA fighters performed excellently, especially those for whom it was their first tournament.

Sempai Angus’s first round went to an extension in the adult heavy weight. It was an exhausting bout but he pushed through, using his strength and low kicks to win the extension. He came second after taking a roundhouse kick to the front of the head in the final. Sempai Josh and Cody fought off for first and second place in the boys 11-13 years under 40kg. Cody had taken an unfortunate hit to the throat but fought well despite the injury. Sempai Josh used his kicks to win the fight.

Sempai Angus Sweeney lines up for his first fight.

Sempai Victor, in the cadet heavy weight division, fought a competitor over 20kg heavier than him. He faced up and stood his ground valiantly despite the weight difference. Jasper’s first fight saw him take several illegal techniques to the throat, but he pushed on and displayed the spirit of Kyokushin throughout the bout.

It was Ethan and Andrew’s first tournament. Ethan fought Sempai Victor and displayed good control and confidence. Andrew stood bravely to his much heavier opponent, and gave it his all.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Everyone walked away with a placement. Congratulations to everyone for their efforts:

  • Sempai Angus – Adult Heavy Weight (Open) – Second
  • Sempai Josh – Boys 11-13 Years under 40kg – First
  • Sempai Victor – Cadet Heavy Weight – Second
  • Jasper – Boys 13-16 Years over 58kg – Second
  • Cody – Boys 11-13 Years under 40kg – Second
  • Ethan – Cadet Heavy Weight – Third
  • Andrew – Adult Heavy Weight (Intermediate) – Third

Congratulations to all.

The competitors with their coaches after the tournament.

Turramurra Grading – March 27, 2017

Kyokushin Karate gradings were conducted at Turramurra Dojo on Monday March 27th. A Kids grading occurred in the afternoon, followed by an Adults Junior Kyu grading during the normal General Class.

Shihan Howard Lipman assessed the students during the gradings of both the Kids and Adults. During the Adults, he was assisted by Sensei Idir Bahamid and Sensei Ben Ng. Sempai Alex Lloyd conducted the grading while Sempai Josh Darley was responsible for photography.

Alice, Andrew and Tony led the nine students attempting the grading. They went through basics, moving through stance, terminology, combinations, kata and some sparring.

Well done to everyone who participated.

Shihan Howard Lipman North Coast Seminar – March 18-19, 2017

On the weekend of 17-19 March, Shihan Howard Lipman visited the KIMAA Far North Coast NSW Dojos to conduct a Kyokushin Karate seminar.

Sempai Rob James, Sempai Alex Lloyd, Shihan Howard Lipman, Sensei Jon Ellis and Sensei Mark McFadden on day 1 of the seminar.

Sensei Mark McFadden and Sensei Jon Ellis hosted the seminar at their respective Lismore and Ballina dojos. Sempai Rob James attended the seminar with some of his students from the North Brisbane and Nundah dojos. Sempai Alex Lloyd came up from Sydney with Shihan Howard to assist with instructing.

On the Friday night the 17th, Shihan Howard and Sempai Alex arrived in Ballina where they had dinner with Sensei Mark and Sensei Jon.

Training began at 9.00 am sharp the next morning at Ballina Dojo. The first session was for the Little Lions. The morning class was spent focused on kihon (basics): strikes, blocks, kicks and combinations. The class ended with some fitness and competitions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next session was an hour-long class for instructors only, revising the finer points of techniques, how to break things down and teach them, and for Shihan Howard to ensure all the basics were the same standard across all six KIMAA dojos. The class was attended by Sempai Wally Gray, Sempai Simon Morris, Sempai Patricia Tan, Will Brook, Jermaine Downs and other assistant instructors to the North Coast and Brisbane dojo operators. 

The afternoon was focused on the adults. Things got off to a bang, starting with an energetic kumite warm up.

The sparring was followed with fight training and fighting techniques, including footwork and movement. After this, different grades took turns demonstrating kata to Shihan Howard appropriate to their level. This was followed by bunkai (self-defence applications), take-downs and throwing each other around the room. Sempai Alex quickly proved to be Sensei Jon’s favourite crash test dummy!

The instructors finished the afternoon class by running the group through some joint locks and pressure point techniques, and some conditioning.

The adults class on the Saturday, at Ballina Dojo.

A group dinner was enjoyed by the visitors and local senior grades at a restaurant in Ballina by the water.

Training began the next morning for adults at 8.30 am at Lismore Dojo. Sensei Mark and Sempai Rob warmed up the class and revised some basics and strength work, before Shihan Howard stepped in to show the group how push ups are really meant to be done!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The class turned to more basics and stance revision, emphasising the importance of separating basic technique from bunkai. The former is the foundation to the latter, and keeping the true form of the technique correct is imperative to the development of one’s karate.

The Sunday adults class at Lismore Dojo.

After a final group photo, black and brown belts stayed on for senior kata training. Sempai Alex took the class exhaustively through Garyu. Shihan Howard then had students pair up for advanced kihon techniques and partner work in the Nidan syllabus. The class ended the session by studying Tensho kata.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shihan Howard Lipman with Sempai Rob James, Lismore Dojo.

Sempai Rob commented about the seminar shortly afterwards online, in particular about Shihan Howard: “I am still in awe of this man. The technical ability and his knowledge of every detail of every technique absolutely blows me away. There are very few people in the martial arts world like Shihan Howard Lipman.”

Shihan Howard was most pleased by the students’ standard of technique, as well as the teachers’ instruction of both the North Coast dojos and those who came down from Brisbane. The quality of the KIMAA students are an obvious reflection of their instructors. He passed on his thanks to Sempai Alex for his assistance. Shihan Howard congratulated Sensei Mark, Sensei Jon and Sempai Rob on the level of technique their students had attained, the fit-out of their dojos, and their obvious dedication to and rapport with their students. 

KIMAA Japan Group Tour – January 7-24, 2017

The KIMAA Japan Group Tour 2017 took place in January. The primary purpose of the trip was to train with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ken in Okinawa, as well as attend the World Kyokushin Tournament. The karateka that formed the tour group included:

One of the Sumo fighters at the Tokyo Budokan.
One of the Sumo fighters at the Tokyo Budokan.

The tour began on January 7th where the bulk of the group, led by Shihan Rick, departed Sydney for Tokyo. The first component of the tour was a sightseeing trip on the mainland, for which Sensei Mark Shelmerdine, Sensei James and Sensei Jon brought their families along. Sensei Paul and Sempai Trish met up with the rest of the group in Tokyo, as they had been travelling in Japan already.

The group threw themselves into the wonders of Japan quickly, spending their time in Tokyo at the Japanese Sword Museum, temple of the 47 Ronin, the fish markets, the Yushukan, the Imperial Palace Gardens, Disneyland and Sumo at the Budokan.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two important Kyokushin sites were also visited during the group’s time in Tokyo: the memorial Shrine for Sosai Mas Oyama at Mt Mitsumine, and Sosai’s grave in Gokokuji.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The group continued their travels around the country, staying in Yudanaka, Nagano and Kyoto. Everyone enjoyed staying in the Ryokan hotel in Yudanaka and seeing the snow monkeys. Sensei Paul, Sensei James and Sensei Jon also went skiing, where Sensei James really shined!

The group met with Shihan Howard and his wife Masumi in Kyoto on January 16th – bringing the whole group to a total of 19 people.

Shihan Rick receives his thank-you gift for leading the sightseeing part of the tour.
Shihan Rick receives his thank-you gift for leading the sightseeing part of the tour.

On January 19th, the karate members of the tour group set off for Okinawa. The families returned to Australia while Masumi remained in Kyoto to spend time with her mother.

The tour group had dinner that night with Sensei Tetsuhiro Hokama (10th Dan) and Shihan Ken Ogura (8th Dan). Shihan Howard met Sensei Hokama in January 2008 and KIMAA has enjoyed a long friendship with Sensei since then. Members of KIMAA, particularly Shihan Howard and Shihan Rick, have travelled yearly to Okinawa for training since 2008 – and often multiple times a year. KIMAA last trained with Sensei Hokama in the 2015 Japan Group Tour. During this trip, KIMAA first met Shihan Ken and enjoyed hosting him in October 2016 for a week-long seminar.

The next two days comprised training at Sensei’s dojo with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ken. The focus was on pressure points, breaks, takedowns, self-defence, kata bunkai and Kobudo. There was lots of partner work involved, and Sensei Jon Ellis performed a board break (tameshiwari) as a part of training.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Kobudo team performed a Jo kata to Sensei Hokama. Sempai Alex demonstrated bunkai for the kata. The standard of the group’s kata and bunkai greatly impressed Sensei Hokama. Sensei and Shihan Ken then ran the team through other possible defence manoeuvres with a Jo.

On Friday the 20th, Sensei Jon Ellis was graded to 3rd Dan in Kobudo and Sempai Alex Lloyd was graded to 2nd Dan in Kobudo. Congratulations Sensei Jon and Sempai Alex!

Tony Kuo, a student from Turramurra Dojo, joined the tour briefly at the invitation of Shihan Howard. He participated in all the training at Sensei Hokama’s dojo.

KIMAA with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ken after training.
KIMAA with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ken after training: Sensei Mark Shelmerdine, Sensei James Sidwell, Sensei Jon Ellis, Sensei Mark McFadden, Shihan Howard Lipman, Sensei Tetsuhiro Hokama, Shihan Ken Ogura, Shihan Rick Cunningham, Sensei Paul Finnerty, Tony Kuo, Sempai Alex Lloyd & Sempai Patricia Tan.

The final event attended by the tour group was the Kyokushin Union’s 4th World Tournament. Fighters from all around the globe were competing, including from Australia. KIMAA caught up with Shihan Trevor Field (7th Dan) from Brisbane, who was the tournament’s Chief Arbiter. The tournament was hosted by Shihan Yasuhiro Shichinohe (7th Dan). KIMAA members trained with Shihan Shichinohe in the 2013 tour, and Sensei Don Cheong and Sempai James Campbell fought in his 2015 Okinawa tournament.

KIMAA at the Kyokushin World Tournament.
KIMAA at the Kyokushin World Tournament.

Shihan Howard and Sensei Hokama were invited by Shihan Shichinohe to sit at the official table. The rest of the group, along with Shihan Ken, enjoyed front row seats.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The tournament was two full days, primarily focused on full contact knockdown fights. There were three divisions: Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Women’s Lightweight. Some demonstrations were also made, including Shihan Shichinohe performing an ice break.

KIMAA with Shihan Ken at dinner on their last night of the tour.
KIMAA with Shihan Ken at dinner on their last night of the tour.

The tour group flew back to Australia after the weekend, arriving home on the morning of Tuesday January 24th.

The KIMAA Japan Group Tour was a fantastic success. The sightseeing was enjoyed by all, the World Tournament was a fantastic spectacle, and the opportunity to once again train with such knowledgeable and skilled martial artists as Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ken was special as always. Thanks go to Shihan Howard and Shihan Rick for organising and leading the tour.

 

Perseverance in Kyokushin

Foreword

By Shihan Howard Lipman (8th Dan Kyokushin, 7th Dan Kobudo)

Jonathan Lee with Shihan Ken Ogura and Shihan Howard Lipman at the 2016 Shihan Ken Seminar.
Jonathan Lee with Shihan Ken Ogura and Shihan Howard Lipman at the 2016 Shihan Ken Seminar.

Over the years I have read many essays written by students as part of their requirements for black belt. Many different facets of Kyokushin have been explored by these students, ranging from discussions on technique to training methods, and what they hope to achieve in their future in Kyokushin Karate.

To the dedicated student, simply put, Kyokushin becomes a way of life and for me personally to this point, it has spanned 46 years. The essay submitted by Jonathan Lee of Turramurra Dojo, prior to his Shodan grading on December 3rd 2016, is one I would advise all Kyokushin students to read thoroughly, and absorb the salient points within.

The essay’s title is “Perseverance” and this, combined with introspection on Jonathan’s part, reveals the thoughts that go through the mind of a dedicated karateka. As Jonathan’s essay explores, the learning never stops.

***

An essay written by Sempai Jonathan Lee for his Shodan Grading (December 2016).

Introduction

Mastering the road to black belt is no small feat, nor is the path an easy journey. It requires dedication, commitment, passion, tolerance, patience, physical and mental strength and, most of all, perseverance. Perseverance is one of the most important qualities for the karateka to have in their Kyokushin journey, a quality which permeates all aspects of this martial art. Perseverance keeps us karateka focused on the goal, lets us master our techniques and strengthens our mental fortitude for what is to come.

A common saying in all martial arts is that a “black belt is simply a white belt that refused to give up”. My journey to black belt hasn’t been an easy one, with many setbacks and injuries, but that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to achieve this milestone in life.

1. What Is Perseverance and Why Is It Important

Perseverance is a powerful quality in a person, and is something everyone has but can be developed further through time and experience. The journey to black belt has been a long one for me, almost ten years. Perseverance is an invaluable character trait and can be defined as the ability to face a challenge and to keep pushing forward, one step at a time, regardless of any setback. In the martial arts, it can be that white belt refusing to give up. The ability to keep pushing on, even when faced with a disappointment or failure, is a trait that can make all the difference.

Jonathan Lee
Jonathan Lee in his Shodan grading.

Perseverance is an important quality because it makes even the most seemingly impossible task possible. It is what distinguishes the strong from the weak, the successful from the unsuccessful. As a martial artist, perseverance is what keeps you optimistic in times of setback or when you face an obstacle. Instead of seeing the setback as synonymous with failure, a true martial artist sees this as an opportunity where they can grow and learn something new. Kyokushin Karate’s belt hierarchy is one such means where students can develop their ability to persevere. When students set a goal to earn their next belt, they come across many challenges along the way and must persist to achieve that goal. As the belts get higher in rank, timing between gradings increase as the road to the next belt becomes harder and harder. In turn, the karateka’s training and application towards their goal must commensurably increase to match; as the goal grows, so must the threshold of the student’s perseverance.

We are all taught perseverance at an early age, even if we’re not conscious of it. When a child first learns to stand and walk, they find they fall repeatedly. However, it is natural instinct for them to get back up and try again and again. Despite falling over innumerable times, they ultimately succeed because they persevered. This similar principle can be carried through all aspects of life – especially in Karate.

Jonathan Lee leads the grading.
Jonathan Lee leads the grading.

One of the eleven sayings (“Zayu no Mei Juichi Kajo”) by Sosai Mas Oyama is that “Following the Martial Way is like scaling a cliff – continue upwards without rest. It demands absolute and unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.” This is what perseverance is all about – the devotion to the seemingly impossible task at hand, the cliff, and exhibiting the persistent effort required to conquer it. The importance of perseverance is further supported in Kyokushin Karate’s Dojo Kun, where Karateka “train their hearts and bodies for a firm unshaking spirit”. This unshaking spirit is what Kyokushin is all about.

2. How Perseverance Has Helped Me in Karate

Knox senior students in 2008: James Butterworth, Alex Lloyd & Jonathan Lee.
Knox senior students in 2008: James Butterworth, Alex Lloyd & Jonathan Lee.

I remember my first day at Karate in 2006. I started Karate as a school sport. I was hooked from the very first session. As most beginners realise, there is so much to take in when you first learn basics (“kihon”) – everything from listening to Japanese customs to the various techniques and stances you’re required to move in. My best friend was one of the reasons I started Kyokushin Karate. He inspired me to follow my dreams of becoming a true martial artist and to this day continues to push me to be better every day. He has been with me since day one, and always my senior student (“Sempai”) who would teach me extra moves during school so that I could perfect everything for class. However, “perfect” is a term that seems impossible to reach and, as I’m constantly told, black belt is only the beginning.

These past ten years have taught me valuable life lessons which have been fundamental in shaping who I am today. They have taught me qualities such as patience, integrity, respect and perseverance. These aren’t qualities which can be bought or built overnight. Many who have trained with me can attest to the number of injuries and setbacks I’ve had on my journey to black belt.

Mar16-Seminar - 6
Jono and other students at a KIMAA seminar.

One of the biggest setbacks I’ve faced is the tearing of my left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2013. I’d achieved my 1st Kyu the previous year and was in training for the black belt grading. The injury was a major setback for me, both physically and mentally. After a three-hour surgery, I woke and had a surge of motivation. My uncle is a 3rd Dan (“Sandan”) in Kung Fu, so becoming a black belt in martial arts had been a childhood dream. This became a focused goal when I began Karate at Turramurra Dojo. I was not going to let any setback stop me from becoming a Kyokushin 1st Dan (“Shodan”). It was a life-changing moment because I decided I wasn’t going to give up on my dream. This gave me a renewed determination to succeed. I spent countless hours learning to walk again, performing drills with resistance bands along with stretching and other exercises to rehabilitate my knee. During this difficult time, I found inspiration in other fighters such as Muhammad Ali. I still turn to this quote often for inspiration in times of upset or hardship: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” It took a year to return to a state where I was capable of training. A year of hard work and rehabilitation felt like an eternity, but after finally coming back to a point of greater fitness than before, I was happy. I was back on track for my black belt.

Sempai Jonathan and others performing kata in his Shodan grading.
Jono and others performing kata in his Shodan grading.

This brings me to my second major setback. In 2015, I was ready again to go for my black belt. Two months away from the grading, I ended up partially tearing both my anterior talofibular ligament (ATL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) during class. After having trained for so long and rehabilitating after my ACL injury, this was another major blow to my motivation. I was devastated as I wouldn’t be able to grade any more. It took me five months of rehabilitation to get back to a stage where I was able to train again. Often during this time I felt like quitting, my motivation was running out. However, I reflected on my journey so far and thought about why I started in the first place. Black belt was a milestone I had always wanted in my life and I knew I had to commit my very being to it if I really wanted it. I realised that the moment when you want to quit, is the moment when you need to keep pushing. This brings me to 2016, the third year running for me to attempt black belt. Two major injuries down, I’ve come back more focused and determined than ever.

shodangrading_jono-10
Jonathan Lee during his 40 fights for Shodan.

This determination has evolved from my study of Karate and the Kyokushin spirit. The karateka often hears the word “Osu” being shouted throughout training. The moment we leave the dojo the final word is “Osu!”. It is an integral part of Kyokushin and it is one of the things that sets ours apart from other martial arts. Osu is derived from the Japanese term “oshi shinobu” where “oshi” means to push and “shinobu” meaning to endure. As a student of Kyokushin Karate, I was always told the importance of this word. The term “Osu” means to persevere, persist, keep going, to be patient. This is why it is a fundamental part of Kyokushin – that you as a student have to be patient in your training and never give up. By pushing hard and persevering, the karateka will reap the benefits from their study of Kyokushin and these far outweigh the sweat and discomfort of the training. According to the KIMAA syllabus, “through perseverance, each time a student leaves the dojo they are a better person. This is the purpose of Karate, this is the true spirit of osu.”

Despite all these setbacks and injuries, perseverance has been the key for me to continue on this journey. Many people would look at these injuries and have regrets that things didn’t go according to plan but I see them as a valuable lesson – especially from a mental and spiritual point of view. All the setbacks have helped me become a much stronger, more resilient and more persevering person than I would have been if I got my black belt three years ago, and for that I am grateful. This is why I believe perseverance is one of the most important qualities when one embarks on a hard journey such as striving to become a Kyokushin Karate black belt (“yudansha”). When you’ve finally accomplished a goal you can look back at everything and confidently say to yourself, “I persisted, I persevered and now I conquered.” Perseverance is a decision. I look at my scars from my ACL surgery and the brace I wear on my ankle, and have realised they are my tattoos. They remind me of where I’ve been and what I’ve accomplished. I’ve realised that Kyokushin isn’t about how tough my physical body is today, how much pain I’m currently in or how many fights I’ve won. It’s not about the number of stripes on my belt or how long I’ve been doing Karate. Kyokushin has taught me that I have the strength to survive anything that life throws at me – that at the end of the day I will pick myself up and continue on my way.

Sempai Jono demonstrates finger-tip push-ups for Shodan.
Jono demonstrates finger-tip push-ups for Shodan.

As I’ve done Karate over the years, it’s amazing how many people I’ve seen come and go. People who started at the same time as I did but, for whatever reason, took a break and just never got back into it. This pattern serves as a reminder to all karateka who persevere of how far they’ve come. It reminds me of how well I persevered with my goal when others fell by the wayside. That’s what it’s all about – consistent, dedicated effort over the long haul. It’s not about being the strongest or toughest athlete, having good natural balance and flexibility or great reaction speeds. When you start, none of those things matter. What matters is your ability to persevere. This is because in the long run it’s not where you start, it’s where you end up and how you get there that matters. At the end of the day, it’s perseverance which is the secret to success. I have learned that we all have the capacity for perseverance, but to take hold and use it is something learned by an individual through focus, dedication and practice. It’s a type of habit that can be applied in all life situations, whether it’s a challenging task at work or the next belt in Karate. When it comes down to it, the famous baseball player Babe Ruth’s quote couldn’t ring more true, “you just can’t beat the person who never gives up”.

3. Perseverance and Its Relevance to Black Belt 

The Kyokushin black belt grading is one of the toughest challenges the karateka can face. The difficulty is so great as successful applicants will be Shodans, demonstrating they have mastered the basics and can properly begin their martial arts journey, down the path of the yudansha. It is a gruelling six-hour test which begins with kihon, combination work of both hand and leg techniques, form (“kata”), self-defence (“kyojitsu”), application of fighting techniques (“oyo bunkai”), stamina and fitness tests, and then lastly an unforgiving set of forty 90-second rounds of full contact fighting “(jiyu kumite”). Understandably, the Shodan grading is not one which is taken lightly – it takes a person who has commitment, passion, physical and mental strength, and a great deal of perseverance to get through it. This special kind of person is one who has decided to devote their life to the martial way (“budo”) and who isn’t afraid of the difficult and arduous journey. This grading isn’t just designed to test one’s martial arts knowledge and skills, but to truly examine who you are when you are physically and mentally exhausted. It is designed to test your decision-making when you’re at your worst as well as your ability to deal with a real situation that might require the use of Karate. At its core, the Shodan grading is testing the principles of a Kyokushin karateka – that is spirit, the will to fight and endure.

4. Benefits of Perseverance and How to Improve It

Sempai Jonathan during his 40 fights for Shodan.
Jonathan Lee during his 40 fights for Shodan.

Perseverance is an important quality that not only helps you attain your goals, but fuels many other valuable traits in a person. It makes you trustworthy in the eyes of others, gaining respect because people know you to be the kind of person who doesn’t quit when faced with challenges. It also helps improve your self-worth and gives a great sense of achievement once a goal is reached. A karateka with perseverance knows that the ability to achieve their goal is within their own hands and that they alone have the choice whether they reach their goal.

Jonathan observing "Mokuso" before a senior kata.
Jonathan just after finishing “Mokuso”, preparing for a senior kata.

Having stated the importance and benefits of perseverance, how does one improve it? Perseverance is a quality that everyone has, but to varying degrees. Despite this, it can be trained like a muscle with the right guidance and patience. Firstly, at the start and end of each Karate class, students kneel (“seiza”) and meditate (“mokuso”). This is an important time for students to reflect on their goals, their training and what they need to do to improve. Secondly, by starting with smaller goals, students are able to reach their ultimate goal in stages. For example, to learn a head height roundhouse kick (“jodan mawashi geri”), a student may progress from using the wall to assist them as they learn the chamber and pivot, to performing a middle body roundhouse kick to finally a head height roundhouse kick once they’ve developed the flexibility, technique and balance required. By breaking techniques into smaller steps, the larger goal is much easier and the accomplishment of each mini-step will inspire the student to keep up the hard work. Lastly, I found that when faced with a new challenge or whenever I felt discouraged, be it due to injury or other circumstances, it was best to take a step back from everything. By concentrating on the big picture, one realises that the current obstacle is only a small rock on the path to success. Perspective is an important tool and I have found it to be an indispensable skill to have on my road to black belt.

Conclusion

Shihan Howard Lipman awards Sempai Jonathan Lee his Shodan, December 2016.
Shihan Howard Lipman awards Sempai Jonathan Lee his Shodan, December 2016.

Perseverance is an amazing personal quality to develop and will help the karateka in all aspects of life – whether it be at school, work, hobbies and especially Kyokushin. I found it an important trait to develop in my pursuit of black belt and encourage all students to never give up their dreams. I will shortly be undergoing my Shodan grading and I know that it will be a gruelling challenge – particularly the fights. I may be bruised, bleeding and a little broken, but I’m going to get back up every single time . . . because I am Kyokushin.

Shihan Howard Lipman and Shihan Rick Cunningham with the new black belts.
Shihan Howard Lipman and Shihan Rick Cunningham with the new black belts.

 

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

top

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”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

gcbc16-group
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

top

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.

top

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.
top

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.

Sydney Gradings – December 4-7, 2016

The day after the Black Belt Grading, a Kobudo class was held at Annangrove Dojo on December 4th.

Shihan Rick Cunningham supervised the class. Sensei Paul Finnerty took weapons beginner Mick Calnan through the basics of the Bo, while Sempai Alex Lloyd took the seniors and Wesley Snider through all the Bo katas as well as the Sai. Sensei Mark McFadden, Sensei Jon Ellis and Sempai Patricia Tan enjoyed the practice for the upcoming 2017 Japan trip.

Shihan Rick was very impressed with the standard displayed by Sempai Trish and Wes, and surprised them with a Kobudo grading. Sempai Trish was graded to 2nd Kyu and Wes to 4th Kyu in Kobudo. Congratulations to both, especially the day after participating in a senior grading!

Wes and Sempai Trish after their Kobudo grading, 5 December 2016.
Wes and Sempai Trish after their Kobudo grading, 5 December 2016.

At the Monday night general class at Turramurra Dojo, on December 5th, KIMAA’s bruised but proud local Shodans attended training. Shihan Howard Lipman was pleased to see the students in such good spirits. They were given a good stretch and work out, from fitness to fight training to bunkai, by Sensei Ben Ng, Sensei Don Cheong and Sempai Alex Lloyd.

Sempai Victor Sweeney, Sempai Joshua Darley, Sempai Jonathan Lee and Sempai Angus Sweeney.
Sempai Victor Sweeney, Sempai Joshua Darley, Sempai Jonathan Lee and Sempai Angus Sweeney, 5 December 2016.

On Wednesday December 7th, a Kyokushin Karate grading was held for the Turramurra Dojo kids class. Sensei James Sidwell took the grading and assessed the students. He was very happy with everyone’s efforts. Well done to all.

A few students who missed this grading were graded by Shihan Howard Lipman on Monday December 12th, with Sempai Josh Darley assisting.

Sensei James Sidwell with the participants of the Kids Karate Grading, 7 December 2016.
Sensei James Sidwell with the participants of the Kids Karate Grading, 7 December 2016.