Not only was it a chance for participants to test out their newly learnt skills, it was also a chance for them to experience sparring with a partner they haven't met until now. After all, giving everyone the chance to interact with each other is one of the objectives of the Extended Session.
It's kind of like speed-dating, but with the necessary protection in place. No pun intended.
Sparring practice in Ashihara Karate follows the idea of 'Fight Control', where there are no set rules of engagement as usually seen in tournament-style practice. Everyone is free to practice any technique they like, as long as they watch after each others' well-being.
"Woah, given how complex that sounds, sparring must only be reserved for senior practitioners right?"
Well, you'd definitely have more experience and techniques to pull off as a senior practioner (you better!), but even at the beginner's stage, say White Belt, you should hold up fine. Confidence is a definite requirement, but with enough exposure, it'll come.
Among other factors, the basics like stances, footwork simple counter-techniques come into play in sparring, regardless of your level of experience. So, for as long as everyone makes it a point to keep polishing their basics and exercise safety, sparring makes for a fun, educational and scot-free experience.
Right: Shoshin no kata Ichi or Beginner's Form 1, a training component for White Belt participants.
In all, this session delivered what we intended it to do. We covered:
- Basic Drills
- Solo & Partner Practice based on the theme 'Understanding Distance'
- Sparring Rounds
- Physical Conditioning
- Video Watching
- and ultimately, Birthday Cake
Participants had ample opportunities to mingle with each other, as they discover more about their chosen art, Ashihara Karate.
From the different instructors who bore different styles, thoughts and approaches to the 'sabaki-method', participants didn't only learn about aspects that weren't emphasized enough during regular sessions. They also got a chance to appreaciate the profoundness of the Ashihara system and understand why it is revered as the most practical form of karate today.
With this and beyond, we hope to continue sharing the spirit of practical karate that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age, gender and physical ability.
The Ashihara dojo is after all as meaningful as the students who enthusiastically practice in it.