2009 Visit to New Zealand and Gasshuku with Nakamura Sensei

By: Sensei David Lambert – IOGKF Australia

IOGKF International Editor, Sensei David Lambert, recently returned for a whirlwind trip of New Zealand’s North island, where he received amazing training from Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura and also passed some of his learning’s onto IOGKF New Zealand Dojo’s…

I arrived into Wellington , New Zealand on December 2nd, accompanied by my girlfriend. After a quick bite to eat, we were met and picked up by IOGKF Wellington Dojo Instructor, Sensei Jennifer Sigley. Jennifer kindly drove us to our hotel and gave us the run down on what was ahead, for what turned out to be a magical weekend of Karate.

Nakamura Sensei had arrived earlier that morning and was very impressed and amazed by the New Zealand scenery.

After a night of rest and sight seeing on Thursday, I was again kindly collected by Sensei Jen from my hotel and taken to Victoria University – the venue for the weekends Gasshuku and also home to the Sensei Jen’s Wellington Uni Dojo.

I had been invited to conduct a training session at this dojo prior to arriving and I was happy to accept! Sensei Jen explained to me in the car, that because it was Uni holidays she was unsure how many would be present for training. I was very happy when some 25 IOGKF New Zealand Karate-ka showed up, enthusiastic for training.

I began the session with a rigorous Junbi Undo, explaining a lot of the movements as I went, while at the same time trying to introduce the Wellington Dojo to some of my own personal training drills.

After we had worked up a bit of a sweat it was time for Kihon Waza (Basic techniques). I started off with static basics, but moved quickly into moving drills, starting with three small sets and putting them into 1 large set. The two sets I taught were also the two sets I use in Australia as part of my senior Kyu grade syllabus.

All participants really seemed to enjoy this and Sensei David Reddaway even called out ‘Mo ichi Do’ for one more go!

After a short break, I moved along to cover some Kakie, working on the three basic combination sets used at Higaonna Dojo, then showing the Hazushi waza (escape techniques) from these, then again putting them into one big set at the end. I was happy to receive a lot of positive feedback from this part of the session.

I then touched lightly on Seiyunchin Kata, before we finished up for the night. I want to thank Sensei Jennifer Sigley and Sensei David Reddaway for giving me to opportunity to train at their dojo.

At Friday lunch time, after we’d had a good look around Wellington city, I began the trek up the mountain on which Victoria University sits atop of. It’s a vigorous 30 minute hike to the top, but you can witness some fantastic scenery and some beautiful views of Wellington . However no view could match the dance room at Victoria University , which was to play host to our first session.

The Dance room’s back wall is all floor to ceiling windows, that look right over Wellington city and Wellington harbor. I was really blown away by this and there is no way my old camera could do it justice!

Nakamura Tetsuji Sensei arrived shortly after and we took some time to catch up with each other, as well as all of the IOGKF New Zealand Dan grades.

Friday’s session was to be for Dan grades only and when Nakamura Sensei announced he was going to concentrate the session towards Sanchin Kata, I could see people running the Power training Shime video through their heads, followed by a look of excitement on their faces!

I think the thing that really made a lot of senior and lower Dan grades taken back was when Nakamura Sensei gave the following speech.

“I didn’t realize how far away New Zealand is. I left ( Canada ) on Monday and only got here Yesterday! So this is a rare opportunity for IOGKF New Zealand , so please if you have any questions just ask.”

I think most found themselves looking at each other when this was said. Nakamura Sensei’s humility and friendliness make him extremely approachable and there were some questions asked and certainly answered over the course of this Gasshuku.

Nakamura Sensei’s Sanchin session was interesting and informative to say the least. His explanations and demonstrations refreshed and polished everyone’s Sanchin abilities and helped to give new ideas about the Kata to all participants.

Following this great session we moved on to the Hewlet Packard towers, which over look Wellington harbor, for a Black Belt dinner. This was a great success and many felt very comfortable to approach Nakamura Sensei and talk with him – which I must say he was more than happy to do!

Saturday morning started at 9:00am, with a Sandan and above session in the Main Gym. Nakamura Sensei explained in detail, Kururunfa Kata. His explanations were extremely clear and detailed. The other characteristic that most people commented to me that they liked about Nakamura Sensei’s training, was that upon finishing practice of a Kata, he himself would demonstrate the entire Kata. With Sensei’s amazing form and technique, many commented that when they saw these demonstrations they felt inspired and got that seeing is believing feeling!

Following this session was an all grades session and when some 120 Karate-ka arrived for training, Nakamura Sensei was very impressed. The Saturday and Sunday all grades sessions followed a similar course each day.

There was one hour with Nakamura Sensei for junbi undo and other training. Then there was group rotational training. The instructors for the group training were Nakamura Sensei, along with IOGKF New Zealand instructors: Sensei’s Brian McGhee, John Whitby, Rajesh Ravji, John Marrable, Blair Kennedy, Phil Seddon, as well as myself from Australia . This was then followed by another hour of training from Nakamura Sensei for everyone in the afternoon.

This system seemed to work really well and there was plenty of variety on offer for all to learn. Kata, Bunkai, Kakie, Self defence, Ude Tanren and Kumite were all on the teaching agenda.

Sunday was another great day of training and started with a Yondan and above session. This time Nakamura Sensei concentrated on Sesan Kata and Bunkai, which was then followed by the practice of Suparimpei. I must say it was great being in that room and seeing Nakamura Sensei’s demonstration of Sesan Kata. Even greater was seeing the mouths hanging open in awe after this!

I think the other part of training that really impressed all Gasshuku participants was the last session of the course. Nakamura Sensei announced that we had 45 minutes left and that we were going to practice Gekisai Dai Ichi over and over again for that period of time! Some 50 repetitions later, everyone was well and truly sweating, but what struck a cord with most, was that Nakamura Sensei did every single repetition with us! He was not a ‘counter’ and ‘walked the walk’ with us all.

The goal was to push ourselves through the fatigue and not hold back on any technique. Nakamura Sensei explained that from training with Higaonna Sensei, he can see that Sensei gives 110% with every move and every technique! And that our goal was to do the same during this and all training we undertake.

We finished the Gasshuku on a remarkable note. A young blue belt boy presented himself forward to perform the Haka for Nakamura Sensei. The Haka is a war-cry that the Maori warriors used to perform to deter their enemies. It is both electrifying and scary! I must say this young man performed one of the best of the Haka’s I’ve ever seen and should be congratulated for his efforts! Nakamura Sensei was very impressed.

A short while later we retired to a little Malaysian restaurant for a quiet dinner, which ended a great weekend of Karate – Do. I must say I had a great time in the hands of the IOGKF New Zealand organization and it was great to catch up with old friends again! – Especially Sensei John Marrable at Photo time!

I want to thank IOGKF New Zealand and their Kambukai for looking after Nakamura Sensei and showing him and also myself such a good time!

I would also like to thank the Nakamura family in Canada for sharing Nakamura Sensei with us so close to Christmas, we are really and sincerely extremely grateful to you for this.

Alex and I then hit the road early Monday morning and traveled the four and a half hour drive to the beautiful seaside city of Napier , where a Dojo, belonging to my good friend Sensei Robin Hood, is based. I was also really pleased to see a man I have a lot of respect for, Sensei Tonk Morgan.

I conducted a similar session to what I had done in Wellington for the Napier dojo, who is also full of wonderful and extremely friendly and bubbly people. I worked in with younger children for the first half of training and the smiles on there faces were priceless.

Time really flew – as it seems to do when you’re having a good time! All participants seemed to enjoy the Kakie training and some of my explanations on foot work. Due to time restrictions, we didn’t have time for Kata, which I was apologetic for. I demonstrated Sesan Kata instead and took the time to thank Sensei Robin, Sensei Tonk and Matt, Dave and all the great people up in Napier. I hope I can come back again soon!

All in all, the Oceania ( Australia and New Zealand ) region has a lot to offer overseas IOGKF members. Australia and New Zealand themselves both have unique scenery, animals and activities, unlike any where else in the world. This is without mentioning the range of great Karate instructors this area has on offer.

Usually when a guest instructor comes out both Australia and New Zealand host them over two weekends. So why not save some pennies and head down under, receive some great Karate training and have the trip of a life time!

I would like to thank Nakamura Sensei again for an amazing Gasshuku and also IOGKF NZ Kambukai and members who looked after both of us amazingly! We will not forget it!