A review of the Kata and Bunkai Course with Shihan Cyril Cummins 8th dan and Sensei Slater Williams 7th dan
Saturday 8th February 2014
Bartley Green Community Leisure Centre
On Saturday 8th february 2014 Shihan Cyril Cummins 8th dan and Sensei Slater Williams 7th dan (Redditch Shotokan Karate) held a special kata and bunkai course. The course was well attended with a number of students from different clubs attending. After the introductions and warm up the class was split into two parts with Shihan Cummins initially taking the dan grades and Sensei Williams the kyu grades.
The black belts started with Shihan Cummins who taught the kata Unsu. He explained the name meant Cloud Defense and the myth behind the name. As he taught the kata to the count he stopped at points to explain the bunkai for particular movements and demonstrated the application of the techniques. We did the kata several times like this before Shihan Cummins gathered us all around so that students could ask questions about the kata and bunkai. We then split into pairs to perform he bunkai for the first few moves with Shihan Cummins moving around the groups to answer questions and offer advice on how to apply the techniques. This was very helpful as only a slight adjustment in how to perform a lock can be the difference between it being effective and ineffective. Finally we performed the kata again to a faster count as the class was now more familiar with the kata a couple of more times before it was time for the sensei to swap groups. During his session Shihan Cummins emphasised the importance of understanding the application and intent of the techniques in order to understand how to perform them correctly and thus achieve correct form. Shihan Cummins also pointed out that at advanced levels a lot of the blocks in kata should be interpreted as strikes. This interpretation in the bunkai can give a kata a vastly different feel.
Sensei Williams then took over the black belts after a brief break for water, first establishing how many people in the class knew the kata Kanku Sho and to what degree of familiarity. As everyone on the class had done it before to some degree he then proceeded to start to teach the kata. Sensei Williams emphasis was on the form of the kata and technique. He asked the class to slow everything down and really concentrate on fluid movements, especially in the first few moves where there is a tendency for people to jump rather than slide. He also stressed the importance of maintaining correct formal stances and using the hips and lower body correctly. This was illustrated in the first two oi-tsuki followed by uchi-ude-uki techniques where he emphasized the importance of the punch being an “ippon” technique and the correct use of hips for the block. Sensei Williams summed this approach up with the phrase “Technique First”. We then went through the kata to the count several times with Sensei Williams illustrating certain aspects at various points throughout the kata including the importance of relaxing in order to be able to use your whole body correctly when performing the techniques. The class then split into pairs to perform bunkai using various moves from the kata after a demonstration of these by Sensei Williams. Sensei Williams moved around the groups during this period explaining how to do the bunkai he had demonstrated. Whilst we were trying to do this we especially found the lock following the throw extremely hard to apply as we often ended up in the wrong position to apply that particular lock and so ended up applying another. Finally Sensei Williams called each rank of dan grade out to perform Kanku Sho after which he offered advice on how to improve.
Whilst I regularly train with Shihan Cummins this was the first time I had trained with Sensei Williams and so it was very interesting seeing another instructors perspective on the kata. Every sensei brings their own insights and observations into their teaching style along with slight variations of techniques depending on what they were taught and their interpretation of the technique so training with a different sensei like this can provide another perspective for your training. In this case I noticed the difference in emphasis to achieve the same goals between the two sensei. Shihan Cummins emphasis is on understanding the application of the technique to achieve the correct form and understand the kata and how to perform it. Sensei Williams emphasis was on the form of the technique to perform a correct kata. From the course and the different emphasis in teaching I get the impression that Shihan Cummins intrinsically links the bunkai with the kata whilst allowing for individual interpretations whilst Sensei Williams sees these as two more distinct aspects of the kata again allowing for individual interpretations of bunkai.
This was a very enjoyable course which gave me areas to think about in order to improve my kata further and I like many of the other attendees look forward to further courses in the future. I’d like to thank Shihan Cummins and Sensei Williams for arranging this course.
Richard Amuzu, 3rd Dan, BHSKC
2014 is a very special year, as Shihan Cummins celebrates 50 years, half a century, of training. Shihan Cummins started karate in 1964, when it was virtually unheard of and unknown. Now, after all these years he has trained thousands of people around the world, many of whom have gone on to become black belts, many of whom have become regional, national, international and even world champions.
Fifty years on, Shihan Cummins has been awarded the rank of 8th Dan in recognition of his lifetime contribution to fostering and developing the art of Shotokan karate-do. Truly one of the pioneers of karate, he is one of a very select band of individuals who helped shape the standard of karate in the United Kingdom to be one of the very best in the world.
We wish Shihan Cummins our sincere congratulations and we look forward to training with him, as he gives the same passion and effort and energy to every class as he has done over all these years.
Sunday 13th October 2013
Ippon Ken Karate Club,
Akeley Wood Senior School,
The Autumn Competition hosted by Sensei Kathy Dearden at Ippon Ken Karate Club. It was a great day out and a roaring success with competitors from BHSKC winning an impressive haul of medals on the day. Our thanks to the organisers and at Ippon Ken Karate, those who helped with the officiating and Sensei Cummins for the stellar work both leading up to today and on the day itself. The first pictures from the event can be found on our Flickr Photostream and the first batch of video on our YouTube Channel. with further photos and videos to follow soon.
Individual Kata, 6 years and under to 1st Kyu
1st – Kyle O’Flanagan (Ippon Ken)
2nd – Kieran Axtell (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Phoebe Bowman (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kata, 7-12 years to 4th Kyu
1st – Ben Thomas (Minikami Bushido)
2nd – Abi O’Flanagan (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Issy Hayes-Hamilton (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kata, 7-12 years, 3rd to 1st Kyu
1st – Jake Phipps (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Lucy Mo (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Millie Bannam (Minikami Bushido)
Individual Kata, 18 years+ to 4th Kyu
1st – Sophie Stoll (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Nigel Chaney (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Paula Axtell (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kata, 18 years+ 3rd to 1st Kyu
1st – Melissa Daly (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Yvonne Scalben (Birmingham and Halesowen)
Individual Kata 1st Kyu and Dan Grades 15 years and under
1st – Daniel Eccles (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Gabriel Hayes-Hamilton (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Caleb Stowe (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kata, Dan Grades 16 years+
1st – Matt Russell (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Connor Stowe (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Terry Povey (Ippon Ken)
Veterans Kata 50 years+ 1st – Austin Birks (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Susan Hession (Birmingham and Halesowen)
1st – Matt Russell/Daniel Eccles (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Nick Abbott/Sam Abbott (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Austin Birks/Jake Phipps (Birmingham and Halesowen)
Junior Team Kata
1st – Jake Phipps/Daniel Eccles/Joshua (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Gabriel HH/Louis HH/Adam Shaw (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Caleb Stowe/Skyla Baily/Luc Vignoles (Ippon Ken)
Senior Team Kata
1st – Melissa Daly/Lyndsey Daly/Christie Price (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Karen Stowe/Connor Stowe/Terry Povey (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Susan Hession/Austin Birks/Matt Russell (Birmingham and Halesowen)
Individual Kumite (Female) 7-12yrs to 3rd Kyu
1st – Hannah Weatherly (Minikami Bushido)
2nd – Katy Winget (Minikami Bushido)
Individual Kumite (Male) 7-12yrs to 4th Kyu
1st – Callum Kipp (Minikami Bushido)
2nd – Reece Lee (Bushido)
Individual Kumite (Female) 7-12 3rd to 1st Kyu
1st – Teegan Dodimead
2nd – Scarlett Bell
3rd – Charlie Nightingale
Individual Kumite (Male) 7-12 3rd to 1st Kyu
1st – Jake Phipps (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Ben Thomas (Minikami Bushido)
3rd – Adam Shaw (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kumite (Male) 18+ to 4th Kyu
1st – Ryan Carter (Ippon Ken)
2nd – Nigel Chaney (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Gaetan Didier (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kumite (Female) Dan Grades 15 and under
1st – Sam Abbott (Ippon Ken)
2nd – Skyla Baily (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Millie Thomson-Cox (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kumite (Female) Dan Grades 16+
1st – Lyndsey Daly (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Melissa Daly (Birmingham and Halesowen)
3rd – Karen Stowe (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kumite (Male) Dan Grades 16-20
1st – Andy Povey (Ippon Ken)
2nd – Connor Stowe (Ippon Ken)
Individual Kumite (Male) Dan Grades 21+
1st – Jason Elliman (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Richard Amuzu (Birmingham and Halesowen)
3rd – John Griffiths (Ippon Ken)
Team Kumite (Junior Males)
1st – Jake Phipps/Daniel Eccles/Joshua (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Benjamin Mo/Gabriel Hayes-Hamilton (Ippon Ken)
3rd – Callum Kipp/Ben Thomas (Minikami Bushido)
Team Kumite (Senior Males)
1st – Matt Russell/Jason Elliman/Richard Amuzu (Birmingham and Halesowen)
2nd – Connor Stowe/Nigel Chaney/Ryan Carter (Ippon Ken)
3rd – John Griffiths/Andy Povey/Gaetan Didier (Ippon Ken)
Interviewed by Matt Russell 3rd Dan
I find karate is the main focus of my day, to what extent and how does it affect yours?
I find it impacts a great deal, I have to think of my students and
set a program out for that evening to teach them, it is very im-
portant to me. In terms of my personal training, I supplement
my karate with weight training and good nutrition, but regular
training is so necessary. It certainly impacts on my life a great
Who was your favourite sensei to train under and why?
There was no favourite, they were all important. But the most prominent one was of course master Enoeda. Kenosuke Enoeda Sensei, he was very famous, a very strong man. There was also
Kanazawa Sensei who was brilliant. Another was Nakayama Sensei, who was the Head of JKA. As well as Osaka and Sensei Ohta, there were also British Senseis such as Andy Sherry and the hierarchy of the KUGB.
What was your most memorable fight?
For my fifth Dan grading perhaps, it was the nastiest, but mostly because it was so dangerous, so nasty, so painful. There was also my Shodan grading where I received a broken nose and some broken teeth. But all the fights were hard. Most of my opponents controlled their techniques but they were still hard and frightening, but we overcome that through training.
What is your favourite aspect of Shotokan Karate Do?
Kata. Kata and Bunkai. It’s the very essence of Karate-Do. Interwoven into kata are all the different techniques of karate. It is very important to understand your kata for self-defence. Freestyle fighting is also important to keep you sharp and strong, but kata is the soul of karate.
If you could repeat any of the past fifty years, and do anything differently what would you do?
Probably nothing, because the way I’ve come forward has led me to the knowledge I have today. It’s taken almost 50 years, but it’s been a voyage of discovery, some of it was hard, some of it was good, some of it bad but you’ve got to overcome these things, Never give in, Never give up.
Friday 20th September 2013
Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre
The special weapons course, was a great success covering an array of traditional karate weapons including the bo, tonfa, sai and nunchaku. What follows is a brief summary of the course and the weapons covered.
I have now been to a few of Sensei Cummin’s weapons courses and so at last I am beginning to feel comfortable with the bo but am not that familiar with the other weapons covered. I started the class at the point where Shushi No Kon, the first Bo kata was being taught. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I remembered a fair part of the kata since the last course (although I had only practised a few times in between) and so felt a bit more confident in performing the kata rather than the more hesitant feeling from previous courses. Shihan Cummins went through the kata a few times starting slowly and going through every move at a slow speed so that those attending who had not used the bo before or had only used it one or two times could follow and slowly increased the count speed until by the end of the class everyone was performing the kata at a good pace. This all took place at various points during the class with the other weapons interspersed in between. Shihan Cummins also explained how the moves of the kata could be applied and then held a question and answer session so that the students could clarify the parts they were unsure of which was very informative as Shihan Cummins explained the details of the application relating to the questions and the history where applicable.
Sensei Austin Birks took the class through the use of the nunchaku, this was only the second time I have used them and thanks to Sensei Sue Hession generously donating her time to purchase weapons on behalf of myself and others on the class now had my very own pair to use. Whilst the first time I had used them they seemed to flow naturally for me, this time this was not the case initially and it took some time to be able to get a rhythm going when swapping hands. This is definitely a weapon for which practice is a must to be able to use them in any capacity and you will almost certainly hit yourself a few times whilst doing so. Sensei Birks then demonstrated how these could be used in defence against attacks from weapons or the empty hand before giving a demonstration of the nunchaku in which he would have given Bruce Lee a run for his money in that famous scene from Enter the Dragon.
Shihan Cummins returned to the helm for the Sai, explaining the origins of the weapon, and demonstrating their use in kata and kumite which in many ways is similar to that of the Tonfa and how they were traditionally used to defend against attacks by katana (Japanese swords). We all then tried to use these which again was a second time for me. I still haven’t got to grips with the sai finding it very hard to spin them with any consistency. Shihan Cummins emphasised the importance of having the blade running along the arm when performing blocks in a similar manner to when using a tonfa. He then held a question and answer session about the sai in which the students again asked questions and Shihan Cummins explained the usage and techniques.
The weapons course finished with a last performance of Shushi No Kon to the count followed by Sensei Sue Hession demonstrating the kata at full speed.
As always this was a very informative course with the attendees all asking for more courses in the future. I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t tried weapon training to attend any future course as it really does add a new dimension to your training and helps when interpreting some of the advanced kata such as Bassai Sho and Jitte.
Richard Amuzu 3rd Dan, BHSKC
As most of you know Sensei Cummins bestowed the title of Sensei to the club Sempai Austin Birks 4th dan so that upon receiving instructions from Sensei Birks during a class as the senior student the correct response would now be “Osu Sensei” instead of “Osu Sempai”. This has led to some confusion during classes where students where receiving instructions from both Sensei Cummins and Sensei Birks. Therefore as Sensei Cummins has recently been awarded the rank of 8th dan it has been decided amongst the senior students that the honorific title “Shihan” should be used when responding to instructions from Sensei Cummins to avoid confusion therefore when receiving or responding to Sensei Cummins please use “Osu Shihan”.
Shihan is an honorific title used in many martial arts as is usually bestowed upon senior dan grade black belts although unlike titles such as Renshi (4th or 5th dan), Kyoshi (6th or 7th dan) or Hanshi (8th dan and above) is not related to grade but is used as a sign of respect. It is usually informally translated in English as “Master” but literally translates as simply “To be a model” / “Instructor”.
Saturday 27th July 2013
Between 11.00am and 12.00pm
Queen’s Park, Harborne, Birmingham, B17 9AH.
Sensei Cummins along with students from BHSKC held a demonstration of Shotokan Karate as part of the activities at Queen’s Park on Saturday 27th July 2013. It was a lovely hot morning and everyone was in great spirits looking forward to the demo. The demo covered the key aspects of traditional Shotokan karate as taught by Sensei Cummins showing a very appreciative crowd students of BHSKC performing kata and kumite plus a demonstration of kobudo with demonstrations of the Bo and Nunchaku by Sensei Cyril Cummins 8th dan and Sensei Austin Birks 4th dan respectively. Thanks to all those who took part and we hope that everyone watching enjoyed the demonstration. If you and/or your children are interested in starting Shotokan Karate training at BHSKC then please contact us for details or come along to a session we would love to see you.
Birmingham & Halesowen Shotokan Karate Clubs are pleased to announce that Sensei Cyril Cummins has been awarded the rank of 8th Dan (hachidan) by NAKMAS.
Sensei Cummins has been studying Shotokan karate for nearly fifty years and in that time has built up a vast wealth of experience and knowledge which he has used to train thousands of students during this time producing a number of champions and students who have gone on to be instructors in their own right. Today at the age of 75 years old he still teaches at BHSKC and is imparting his knowledge to the next generation of karateka. Sensei Cummins has shown amazing dedication to Shotokan Karate over the years and exemplifies what it means to be a true master of Shotokan Karate.
On behalf of everyone at BHSKC we would like to congratulate Sensei Cummins on achieving 8th Dan.