Club 3: Senshi Karate

No sooner had I returned home from Eastbourne, I was busy planning my next trip. This time to visit Senshi Karate in Charlton. As our most recently-qualified Kyu grade examiner, I was excited to see Sensei Frank Jennings, alongside Sensei John Parnell undertake the club’s largest ever grading of 50 students.

Once again I would not be in a position to train but I was excited to learn from each and every one of the fantastic karateka in this photo:

Coinciding my trip with a club grading, gained me a travel companion for part of the journey again. After the car parking catastrophes last time with Sensei John “don’t worry I’ll get us there” Parnell behind the wheel, what could go wrong…?! 😊

Wednesday 2nd March 2022

I’ll tell you, attempting to get to Central London for 5pm on a Wednesday – that’s what went wrong! That and some dodgy sat-nav directions!! We encountered traffic, dead-ends, traffic, and a bit more traffic!! Later than planned, we finally arrived to a dojo full of enthusiastic, friendly faces. And that was the moment that made the trip worthwhile!

I feel so fortunate – this was another opportunity to connect with friends, old and new; to witness 60+ students train and 50 students grade; and to watch our newest Kyu grade examiner in action – incredible!

This was a different learning experience from my visit to Red Lion SKC. Many of the students being school-age, the style of teaching was naturally different to when you are just teaching adults. It requires a bit more patience, and often requires instructions and guidance to be broken down into smaller bite-size chunks. It made me realise, when training we often end up explaining certain moves to fellow karateka, of all different ages and grades. It could be to help their understanding or to consolidate our own – either way, if you find yourself in a position where you’re not articulating your point clearly, envisage talking to a younger student and going back to a basic explanation. I’ve tried this technique since and experienced a few ‘penny dropping’ moments.

Sensei Frank Jennings proved himself to be a ferocious and talented instructor the first time I watched him teach. Shouting orders and driving the class onwards whilst always maintaining the right balance of respect and credibility in front of his student. Very motivating.

Special shout out to Alaina, one of Franks daughters, who did an incredible job calling the “instruction” to the candidates with confidence and aplomb. What a magnificent and confident young karateka she is!

Next up, the Kyu grading. Well done Sensei Frank, the evening was very well organised. The grading was split into two groups – both equally impressive I have to say. We all know how much time, effort and dedication is put into our training before a grading so to witness such an important event is always such an honour. Collectively everyone in the dojo – karateka, instructors, grading examiners, parents – are routing for those grading to succeed! Amazing!

What I liked was that Sensei Frank was allowed to run his own grading: they are his students after all. Sensei John Parnell and Georges Dussart assisted and offered constructive comments and feedback to guide the process. Everyone learned. I also like the structured and motivated way feedback was offered to each student: what went well and how to be even better next time. Incredibly refreshing and motivational and you could see the student’s confidence and enthusiasm grow. Very professional.

I also like the way Sensei John spotted a committed group of senior grade adults who obviously train together and he encouraged them to stick together as a group for mutual support and motivation as they head towards the coveted black belt grading and status. Very acute and effective.

How did they all get on? The pictures below tell you everything you need to know. Congratulations to you all. Every pass was thoroughly deserved.

With the recent news from my physio that I could be out of action for another couple of months, staying connected has never been so important for me personally. There is always room on the injury bench – please, if you are injured too, come and join me – you’ll be amazed at how much you still learn. Of course, nothing compares to putting on your white pyjamas, but our minds need training too!

Final thoughts…

Another amazing and unique experience. The room was buzzing with released tension and motivation for the future challenges of training. With every visit to a new club, comes new connections, friends, and knowledge – not forgetting a drink in the bar afterwards. A special shout out to Bishoy who is a fellow ex-Wado-Ryu practitioner – I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I look forward to being able to train with you in person very soon – either at your club or the next Shotokan Connect course.