2021 in the Seal Martial Arts Dojo
Its been an eventful year in the dojo this year! We started the year stuck in lockdown with our future looking somewhat uncertain as we were running all of the lessons online and had no idea when we would get back to some resemblance of normality. If it wasn’t for the support of our students we probably wouldn’t still be here so first we want to thank everyone for their support during the coronavirus lockdowns!
We started to move back towards normal lessons in April when we could resume training with the adults outside socially distanced so all of my students became masters of Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu and Sojutsu. We figured it was best to stick to teaching the long weapons to adhere to social distancing guidelines. I think everyone was glad to see the back of the online lessons and happy to be getting back to training normally to some degree. We tried to keep the online lessons fun and engaging but it just isn’t the same as actually meeting up and training in person, That’s not to say that the online lessons weren’t beneficial! All of the students who stuck with it maintained a good standard of fitness and continued to progress in the art especially with regards to Kata.
I then had a visit from Tommy Joe Moore and Chris Jones who wished to spend the day studying Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu. This was great fun and we covered all of the Kamae (Stances), Kihon Gata (Fundamental Forms), Bo No Uchi (Strikes) and Keiko Sabaki Gata (Kata) during the lesson. Tommy is an excellent martial artist and definitely worth training with if you get the chance and have an interest in combatives, boxing, ju jitsu, wrestling or generally just learning to punch someone in the face.
I had also become significantly more hairy during the lockdown as i hadn’t been able to see a barber in months as you can see from the photo above.
Then at the end of April the kids were allowed to return to normal lessons in the dojo which everyone was excited about. It was great to see the students getting back to normal and training hard in the dojo. We unfortunately had a few students leave the dojo as their circumstances had changed during the lockdown but they are always welcome back with us in the future if they are able to attend the lessons. However after the lockdowns we had a surge of new students! It seems they were dying to get out and try something different after being cooped up inside for so long which was great for the dojo!
We then hosted the Triple Threat seminar with Jason Hulott teaching Eishin Ryu Battodo and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Tommy Joe Moore teaching combatives and myself teaching Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu and Sojutsu. We had an excellent turnout at the seminar with martial artists from various styles attending and even some HEMA people. I learnt that theres apparently a rivalry between Japanese Kenjutsu and HEMA instructors about whose style is superior which was a new one on me.
The seminar ran over two days and looked at a wide variety of techniques and kata to disable and dismember your opponent. Probably one of the most memorable techniques was simply sitting in Seiza No Kamae in the Eishin Ryu way lifting your body with the knees, it was extremely uncomfortable and everyone was suffering after doing it for a short while. Jason Hulott is an excellent teacher with a lot of knowledge about both Japanese and Western sword styles. He related every kata to a historical story about how the technique was applied and i think quite a few of us got told that we would be dead upon messing up the techniques during training. This was particularly interesting for me as we teach Kenjutsu in the dojo so it was great to try another style of swordsmanship. I found Eishin Ryu to be very formal in it’s approach to teaching with the focus being on perfecting each movement with the sword and observing traditional Japanese etiquette. It was interesting to learn about the roles of the Kaishaku and how the level of the sword indicated the status of the person. We didn’t look at any kata actually engaging another swordsman though it was more about perfecting your movements and spiritual refinement.
Then in July we closed the dojo for two weeks as Kim and I finally got married! Some of the students attended our wedding as we have known them for years and it was an amazing day! Unfortunately due to the covid restrictions we weren’t able to go on our honeymoon just yet as we want to go to Japan so we hit the ground running and got straight back into running the dojo.
Things have gone from strength to strength since returning to the dojo! We have had several new students signing up as members and the adult lessons are packed so we started expanding and hosting new lessons for the students. First we launched the Seal Martial Arts Ladies Only lessons again on a Wednesday evening at 18:00.
The Ladies Only lessons have been going well with several new students attending each week and lots of techniques being covered. The focus with the Ladies Only lessons is on general self defence and fitness as well as traditional Ninjutsu so it’s not the same lesson structure as the standard adult lessons. The Ladies have been doing extremely well with some excellent form and devastating kicks! Kim has been teaching the Ladies Only lessons and has been doing a brilliant job at demonstrating the techniques to the students and training alongside them.
We then launched the junior Fight Team on Saturdays for the students to practice sparring and enter competitions and tournaments if they wished to.
The students really enjoyed sparring and putting their technique to the test! The students participated in three 1 minute rounds and scored points for each punch or kick landed and takedowns performed. Eshaan was a reigning champion for October winning nearly all of his bouts throughout the month and was awarded a Warrior Of The Month trophy! All of the students did exceptionally well and it was great to see them persisting and training hard during the lessons. Unfortunately we had a couple of students drop out of the Fight Team so we decided to switch them for Weapons Weekend lessons.
In the Weapons Weekend lessons the students get to study the advanced techniques and kata that aren’t found in the normal Shadow Warriors syllabus. We will be looking at the use of all sorts of traditional weapons each week and the students will be working towards achieving levels of proficiency with each weapon. For each level achieved the student will receive a certificate and upon completing the final level a patch stating that they have mastered that weapon. These lessons have been extremely successful so far with more students attending each week and having fun learning to use weapons safely when practising martial arts.
The students in the Shadow Warriors students continuously impress us and we are extremely proud of them! Parents of new students trying their first lesson are always commenting on how amazing they are diving over one another and they would put some adults to shame with the amount of exercise they do each lesson! It’s great to see the students so dedicated to training and progressing steadily during each lesson.
Overall 2021 has been very productive! Now with two weeks left and Christmas approaching everything is starting to wind down for when we close on the 23rd of December until the 6th of January 2022. This doesn’t mean that things have stopped though we are preparing to grade several of the students before Christmas ready to get back to training in January! We hope everyone has an excellent Christmas and New Year and want to thank you all for supporting the dojo throughout 2021 despite all of the challenges with coronavirus and the lockdowns. Hopefully 2022 will bring new challenges and we can continue to grow the dojo and reach more students!