On the bucket list of every karateka who has scaled the dizzy heights of beginner on the ladder of learning, is to attend a World Chief Instructors Course, held annually in Europe and the USA respectively. If there has been a silver lining to the cloud that is a world-wide pandemic, is that this year, the WCIC was run as a series of virtual sessions, making it available to those who have had the desire to go, but through various personal circumstances have not been able to attend.

With great generosity, our World Chief Instructors ran three two-hour long courses from their dojos, apprising us of both the fundamentals of our practice, and encouraging new ways of looking at both the mind and body’s approach to what is an ever-evolving art. A small COVID-safe group were invited to the Samurai Dojo in Claremont so that we might enjoy the experience together. The sessions encouraged ‘Beginners Mind’ so that we would absorb as a first priority, with understanding to evolve over time, leaving our preconceptions of what good karate is, off the tatami.

Shihan Bill Bressaw challenged us to examine our stances and understand that “opposite dynamics are a key to stability, strength, speed, power, and clarity of thought”. Two hours of practice helped us understand the connections that exist throughout our body, and how to harness the forces that improve acceleration, precision, and reaction time.

Shihan Chris Thompson’s session, which was broadcast with us from the Claremont Dojo, brought us the concept of Congruence, where the “vertical” or “downward” force caused by the dropping of body-weight creates a number of the other essential force vectors in our bodies needed for optimum levels of ability. “…Where the lift and the drop meet and make [our] joints strong for the transmission of force.”

Finally Shihan Lionel Marinus encouraged us to find our Master Key, “some element in your technique on which you will still be building … for the next 40 years”. Two key fundamentals that Shihan Lionel took us through, and that he has based his Master Key on, were grip and torque. He engaged us in a series of exercises that promoted the body’s natural ability to create a structure where grip and torque are a natural result.

Every session paid tribute to Shihan Eddie Daniels. This was the first WCIC run since his passing and his presence, energy and knowledge was sadly missed.

The courses gave much food for thought and for many hours of exploration of that ongoing quest for “eliminating that which is useless” and “encouraging only that which is effective”. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have finally experienced a WCIC and still look forward to the time when we will be able to once again join up as a world organisation and learn together.

ALAN GOLDBERG | 3rd Dan Black Belt KSI