Japanese seminar gives south-west karate exponents a kick along

FIVE south-west martial arts exponents will use the experience of a trip to Japan as inspiration to further improve their skills.

Warrnambool’s Adam Lucas, Portland’s John Wolf and Aiden Kendera, Balmoral’s Shelley Hol and instructor Stephen Hol attended the 11th World Shotokan Karate-Do Federation international seminar and world championships in Tokyo recently.

Almost 600 athletes from 40 countries attended the three-day seminar and two days of competition.

Stephen Hol, Victoria’s chief instructor, who runs classes in Warrnambool each Tuesday as well as Portland, said the Japanese journey had extended beyond the sport.

“The team gained a great deal of experience at an international level with training and competing with karateka (athletes) from all over the world,” he said.

“Experiencing the Japanese culture which our karate is based on was fulfilling, too.

“For Adam and Aiden it was their first time and the other team members, their second time. 

“I have been four times to Japan and am still getting a lot out of each trip, so you could say we all learnt something from the trip, there is a lot to take in and a lot happening in the two weeks we were there.” 

He said the training conditions at the seminar were tough in 32 to 36 degree temperatures each day.

“This certainly tested us mentally and physically.”

He said Kendera’s first competition in Japan had been an eye-opener.

Hol, a fifth dan black belt, competed in the veterans’ 38 years-plus division, one of the biggest and finished mid-field.

The group visited Kamakura, the thirteenth century Japanese capital, where Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of the shotokan style of karate is remembered with a memorial in the temple grounds.

“The team have certainly come back with greater humility,” Hol said.

“Our world chief instructor Hitoshi Kasuya sensei 8th dan is inspiring at 65 years of age and moves like he is in his twenties and this certainly rubs off on you. 

“We have a number of older members in our clubs who are in their 30s to 60s, including me, who actively train with me who can learn from what the team experienced. 

“In the veterans’ 38 years and up kata division in which I competed in, the competitors were 4th, 5th and even 6th dan black belts and had one of the largest draws in the competition. I think that the learning curve has set a higher standard for our training and certainly we can improve our strategies with the competition aspect and mindset in the future.”

Hol led the Australian team for the first time in the absence of the country’s chief instructor Howard Mutton, a sixth dan from Western Australia, and took on judging and referee duties.

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