We’ve enjoyed a lovely week of sunshine in the UK this week. The sun being out always heightens my mood and so I actually felt inspired to get my writing hat on and add my own to 2 cents to the Enso SKC blog.
This past Wednesday, training at Enso was a little bit different from the norm. Sensei Austin had his chemotherapy treatment and was unable to teach.
Our good friend Sensei Steve from Haden SKC, who has been instrumental in keeping training at Enso going during this phase (thank you!), unfortunately suffered from a shoulder injury, so couldn’t take Wednesday’s class, either. We didn’t want to cancel the class, as Wednesday marked the penultimate session at Bartley Green dojo, one of the homes to Shihan Cummin’s Birmingham and Halesowen SKC for some 40 years. So, we went ahead and opened the dojo for training that night, as we knew our keen core of people wouldn’t miss a chance to get some practice in.
In total, there were 4 of us that night and it turned out to be a brilliant session! Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer “doing my thing… in the background”, so I was more than impressed (and relieved) when one of our members who had just returned to the dojo after a break, stepped up and led the session. Those who know him, will know that he is a wonderful man, inspiring and a really sharp karateka. But not only is his technique razor sharp, he is also very insightful and has a lot of deep, very interesting views on karate, its technique and philosophy. After going through each of the Heian kata that night, he gave us some food for thought.
Eventually, we ended up at Tekki Sandan, an often neglected, but beautiful kata which forms the third and final part of the Tekki “Iron Horse” kata, originally named “Naihanchi”. It had been a while for all of us since we had practiced Tekki Sandan, but together, with a bit of team effort, we managed to piece it together.
Not having an official instructor there made me realise how lucky we actually are, to have had Shihan Cummins as our teacher and now having Sensei Austin continue the teaching of our martial art and how easy they make it look. While both Shihan Cummins and Sensei Austin have their unique teaching styles, there is one crucial aspect, for me, that they both have in common: when you come out of one of their sessions, you feel ALIVE. It is difficult to describe for those who haven’t trained with them, but those who have, will know that whatever worries you may have, when you step inside the dojo, you leave those worries at the door when you bow and enter. Then you give your everything to that session, and as if by magic, afterwards, those worries have disappeared or at least are significantly smaller!
But I digress, and the point I wanted make was, that by not having an instructor there, we were forced to think a lot more consciously about each move and what its significance might be. And for me, the beautiful part about all this was that we were working together and helping each other to ‘assemble’ the kata.
As we were practicing, I felt a lot of gratitude for my fellow karateka, for the fact that they turned up ‘regardless’, kept our spirit going strong and trained with everything they got. I actually felt a sense of pride that we did what we did and couldn’t wait to get on the phone to Sensei Austin quick enough to tell him. He was very chuffed, of course, to hear this. During his journey with cancer, the kindness of people all around him has been one of the major things to keep Sensei Austin going and this positive energy has enabled him to keep training and teaching, so I knew that hearing that we trained hard would give him a great boost.
I want to close with the following quote by Linda Holiday, which is related to Aikido, but nonetheless holds true for any martial art and sums up nicely what happened on Wednesday:
“In Aikido training, we learn from everyone. We learn from the most experience people, but we also learn from new students. Everyone is connected through the heart and develops a mutual understanding. It is important to create a place where that can happen.”