Jundokan New Zealand Masters Seminar 2014 (Blake Turnbull)

Last weekend Richmond, Nelson, played host to the Jundokan New Zealand (JNZ) Masters Seminar for 2014 (December 13th-15th), hosting Okinawan Jundokan Honbu 9th dans Gima Tetsu-sensei, Kinjo Tsuneo-sensei, and Yurio Nakada-sensei, for a 3 day seminar of traditional Goju Ryu kata and bunkai. It was the first time New Zealand had played host to the now Alaskan-based Nakada-sensei, and 7 years since both Gima-sensei and Kinjo-sensei had last visited in 2007, but it was clear from the get-go they were happy to be back, this time beneath the beautiful sun and warmth that Nelson had to offer

The seminar itself was a truly fantastic event that could only be described as enlightening (if not a little mind-boggling at times!). Beginning with Gekisai and Saifa on day 1, moving on to Seiyunchin and Shisoshin on day 2, and finishing with Sanseru and Seipai on day 3, those who participated in the 3-day event received invaluable tips, advice, and demonstrations on kata from the Okinawan masters. Following each kata, we began looking in-depth at the bunkai, both kihon (as is laid out in the kata itself) as well as more advanced techniques that built on the basic kata foundations. One thing that was stressed to us time and time again was that, although the masters could teach and/or show us what they know, at the end of the day, it was up to us to take those techniques and concepts that we liked and those that worked best for us, and assimilate them into our own style of bunkai. It hardly need be said that having 3 surprisingly different styles and techniques from each of the 3 masters themselves certainly gave us a lot to work with, and the knowledge that everyone received is something truly special and an incredibly unique experience that I am sure everyone involved took a lot away from. A grading was also held on the final day for Hayden Wilmott, Glen Morgan, Richard Dickens and Jack Carter. Congratulations to you all and an outstanding effort and performance.

What I believe we can take away from the seminar is that (certainly in my eyes, at least) JNZ is on the right track in terms of where we want to be in our own studies of karate, and where we sit in the eyes of the Jundokan masters. It was a truly fantastic seminar in which all those involved were simply there to train and to learn from the masters themselves. No egos, no flashy performances, no attitudes of self-importance - simply a bunch of like-minded people there to learn from the best of the best. And I believe this was reflected in the overall success of the seminar as a whole, and also in the views of the masters themselves, who seemed more than happy with how it all played out.

I would like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Paul Allot-sensei for all of the time and effort he invested in to making the seminar such a resounding success. He is simply an inspirational leader for Jundokan New Zealand, and I believe there is no one better and more suited to be leading this ever-strong organisation in our journey to continue learning about the art of Goju Ryu. I also believe this was reflected in the mutual respect shown by the Okinawan masters towards Paul-sensei, and it is clear that with him at the helm, JNZ will continue to be a strong, close-bound organisation for many years to come. It is also clear to me that the ties between JNZ and the Jundokan Honbu Dojo in Okinawa have never been stronger, nor have the bonds between the members of the JNZ family. I believe that the mutual respect between JNZ and the Jundokan Honbu will long continue hereafter, and I look forward to the next chance in which we are all able to train under their watchful eye in the near future. Until then, let us continue our own training, incorporating all that we learnt over a simply outstanding seminar, as we continue to grow and advance our karate together as members of Jundokan New Zealand.