Many people do online classes, but these are usually pre-recorded videos. If you have questions, you have to type them in on your key board and wait on the teacher getting back to you. And if you don’t fully understand their answer, you have to send another question and wait again.
Furthermore, the teacher can’t actually see how you are doing things yourself, so can’t pick up on fine details that you may not even know to ask about.
This is why I was quite intrigued when I heard about Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s idea for an Interactive Cyber Dojo.
So what is an Interactive Cyber Dojo?
I’m glad you asked me that!
Basically, it’s a lesson over Skype with video, one on one with Shihan Yokota himself. A private lesson with a genuine Japanese 8th Dan, author and direct student of Asai (10th Dan) himself . . . . . well I just had to give this a go.
My first hiccup was that I did not have a webcam on my PC. No problem, I borrowed my daughters Apple Mac, and we were off.
The lesson was on the kata, Junro Shodan. This is a kata created by Master Asai and is part of Asai Ryu version of Shotokan Karate. It is not in other versions of Shotokan, so this was of particular interest to me.
Master Asai introduced the Junro series for a couple of reasons. One reason being to put more emphasis on the Neko Ashi Dachi (Cat Stance). This stance was widely used in Shorin Ryu which was the main forerunner to Shotokan, but has been almost completely replaced in most Shotokan Katas by the longer Kokutsu Dachi (Back Stance). Master Asai felt that we should bring it back as it is a very practical stance from a combat point of view which we have nearly lost due to standardisation of Katas, largely for competition purposes.
Master Asai also felt that when it comes to spinning techniques, most Shotokan katas have a heavy bias to only spinning clockwise and wanted to address this imbalance. You can check out the Junro Shodan for yourself below:-
Master Asai is considered by many to be the greatest Shotokan teacher and practitioner that ever lived. This is why very many Shotokan Karateka from other organisations and lineage’s have been interested in learning his katas. Unfortunately many of these people do not have access to a dojo which practices the Asai Ryu version of Shotokan.
After a student in New York persuaded Shihan Yokota to try to teach him over Skype from California, Shihan Yokota realised that he could use this method to reach and help many other Shotokan Karateka (and other styles if interested) from all over the world. Those interested in learning Asai Ryu Shotokan and the Junro series of katas no longer had to be limited by physical location.
So having made the appointment, Shihan Yokota, he sent me the Youtube link to Junro Shodan (above) along with a step by step pictorial schematic so that I could prepare myself in advance. For a few hours before my class, I went through the kata, learning it from the video. By the time it came to the class, I was still far from perfect, but more or less had the sequence of movements. Throughout the class, Shihan Yokota corrected my stances and movements and picked up details that I would never have got from following the video alone.
As I reflected afterwards, this was a fantastic way to learn. Had I attended a seminar to learn this kata, firstly I would not have received the link to the video and step by step guide. OK, I could have used my initiative and Googled it, or searched it on Youtube, but you can never be quite sure how truly authentic the version displayed will actually be.
Had I gone to a seminar, I might have had to travel for several hours to get there and back. This time was much better spent pre-learning the kata from Youtube.
Furthermore, had I been at a seminar, I would have been one of many, moving at the pace of the rest of the class; rather than having one on one attention for an hour from an 8th Dan and the class moving at the right pace for me and me only.
Being at home, I was a bit limited for space and often had to shuffle around a bit to fit in all the movements. However, I felt that all the other advantages far out-weighed this minor disadvantage. As far as I’m aware, nobody else is doing this. I’m sure many will follow, but for now I believe that it is unique.
So how much does this one-on-one with an 8th Dan actually cost?
Well if you were meeting face to face, then the standard rate would be $150 per hour. However, through Shihan Yokota’s Interactive Cyber Dojo, it is a very reasonable $29.99. When you consider that sometimes you can pay almost as much to attend seminar and be one of about 50 or more people with no one on one, this is a really good deal. Plus you have no travel costs, no parking charges, no food or drink to buy while you’re out and being via Skype there are no extra computer/telephone costs either. For many people, this is actually cheaper all round then going to a seminar. I personally think that Shihan Yokota is being a bit cautious and setting his rate a bit low, so I’d recommend that anybody who is interested should book in quickly before he catches on and puts his rate up.
My Sensei, Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan, is running a Karate Bunkai Jutsu Course which is of course not to be missed. The following details are taken from the club website:-
Bunkai Jutsu Course
Practical Karate for Beginner to Black Belt 2nd October 2011 11:00 – 2:30
This course takes the principles & techniques of Karate and applies them to realistic self defence.
Locks, takedowns and throws are included in this traditional Martial Art alongside the more obvious strikes and kicks. Sensei Mitchell will be teaching practical uses of the everyday moves within Karate from basic techniques through to the more complex kata moves.
Open to all Karateka from Beginner to Black belt, all welcome.
Taught by Sensei Paul Mitchell 4th Dan, Wells Traditional Shotokan Karate Group Instructor.
Wells Traditional Shotokan Karate Club is a very friendly and open club. Not only does Sensei Mitchell teach extremely good bunkai, but he also teaches in an open, friendly and humorous manner; so his courses are enjoyable on several different levels.
To find out more about how and what Sensei Mitchell teaches, please visit the Wells Traditional Shotokan Karate Youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/wellskarate, then book yourself in for the course.
My Sensei, Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan will be hosting a special Karate bunkai course looking at the principles & techniques of Shotokan Karate and applying them to realistic self defence. Along with the more obvious punches and kicks, this will include locks throws and takedowns utilising moves from both basics and kata.
The course is open to all Karateka regardless of grade – Beginner to Black belt. However, there is a minimum age of 12 for anybody under 4th Kyu
Basic details are:
When – Sunday 3rd April 2011, 11:00 – 2:30pm.
Where – Wells Blue Sports Centre, Kennion Road, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2NR
Kevin O’Hagan is an internationally renowned martial artist who I’ve mentioned several times before and have a lot of respect for. He will be hosting a Seminar on “how to develop short range knockout power” in Bristol on Sunday March 20th 2011, 11.00am to 3.00pm. Any course by Kevin is to be highly recommended.
Full details are below in his own words (cut and pasted from his promotional poster):-
Bristol dojo, 74/78 Avon St. St .Philipps.Bristol.bs20 opx
• Understand controlling aggression range
• Line ups and fence
• Dealing with verbal aggression.
• Functioning against ‘In your face violence’
• Targeting, impact development
• Ko shots, fight finishers
• Choke outs
• Dealing with single and multiple attackers
COST; Seminar £25.00p or seminar package with DVD Kevin O’Hagan’s ‘One shot system’.(60mins to compliment seminar content for reference) £40.00p.
CONTACT;Jake at jakeohagan@ymail .com or 07789865284 to book your place and also be on your mailing list.
An acquaintance of mine, Paul Loughlin, will be teaching a child bullying self defence seminar followed by an adult edged weapon defence seminar this coming Sunday at the Bristol Martial Arts Academy (Bristol, UK).
As well as being at 2nd Dan Kickboxing/Karate, Paul is also a qualified Self Defence Instructor:
Level 1, Complete Basic Self Defence
Level 2, Complete Ladies Self Defence
Level 3, Adverse Situations & Multiple Attacks
Level 4, Street Weapons Self Defence
Paul who has his own company, ADD Self Protection, was trained by Dave Turton, founder of the Self Defence Federation (SDF) and one of the pioneers of street wise self protection. I have met Paul at some of Kevin O’Hagan’s seminars as he likes to keep his knowledge up to date; so if you are free this Sunday and in the area, check it out. Times and contact details are on Facebook.
Here are a couple of clips of Paul teaching with fellow SDF instructor, Steve Hallam:
Coming up on Sunday 19th September is Kevin O’Hagan’s Edged Weapons Defence Seminar. I’ve only trained with Kevin once before on his Manstoppers Course, but for real world self protection practicality, Kevin has to be one of the best in the UK. Although he is primarily JuJutsu based, I’ve always felt that learning JuJutsu is like doing a Karate bunkai class (that is not meant in a condescending manner to JuJutsu as I have a lot of respect the art).
A number of the techniques I learned on the Manstoppers course fit hand in glove with my Karate and I thoroughly recommend it to any Karate/TKD/Kung Fu practitioner who wants to learn more about how to use their own art in a practical manner. If you look carefully, you will usually find that some techniques taught look surprisingly similar to some movements in your katas/patterns/forms that you maybe had not found a practical use for before.
TOPICS TO BE COVERED;
VITAL DISTANCING AND TACTICAL POSITIONING
TYPES OF EDGED WEAPON AND CONCEALMENT AND CARRY
TYPES OF ATTACK
AVOIDANCE AND ESCAPE
OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE TECHNIQUES
TREATING A KNIFE WOUND
The course is from 11.00am to 3.00pm at the Bristol Dojo, 74-78 Avon Street, St Philip’s, BS2 OPX. Cost £25.00. To book your place contact Jake O’Hagan on 07789865284 or email@example.com.
Here’s a video clip of Kevin in action. As mentioned above, if Karate/TKD/Kung Fu practitioners look closely, you should recognise some movements from your own katas/forms/patterns. The video clip is not in the “teaching format” that I prefer for this blog, but you have a look at what this brilliant teacher has to offer you on the course.
I have recently had the pleasure of seeing Kevin O’Hagin and his two sons, Jake and Tom, performing a demonstration at the Rotary Martial Arts Festival in Bath. It was fast moving, dynamic and one of the highlights of the Festival. Kevin’s style of Combat Justu, based on his many years studying various froms of Ju Jutsu, and other related arts, is a no-nonsense brutal system for defeating an opponent quickly and efficiently. The people that Kevin has trained with is extensive and reads like a who’s who of reality martial arts.
Kevin is a former professional cage fighter as well as successful author – brawn and brain 🙂 However, he separates his teaching between the sporting MMA side and his Combat Jutsu street defence style.
He has recently been awarded his 7th Dan in Combat Jutsu and is a 6th Dan Senior Instructor in self protection with the British Combat Association, the most respected reality based self protection organisation in the UK. In short, Kevin knows his stuff.
I have inserted a few Youtube clips of Kevin teaching, so that you can see for yourself the type of training he gives. Furthermore, Kevin is running a course soon in Bristol (UK). I have inserted a copy of his promotional poster below. I would say to anybody from the Karate, TKD world etc., who may not think that this is anything to do with your style; think again. Many applications from our Kata’s/patterns/forms, are very similar (sometimes identical) to Ju Jutsu, so I’m sure that if you look carefully, you will find Kevin doing moves that you have seen before, but never thought of applying them in that manner.
(Note: This third video looks quite close to Kung Fu Tiger style with the raking fingers)