Most of the time I am early for everything. Unless I have my wife and kids with me who can sabotage my preparations.
I am by default an organised person.
I like to plan and implement meticulously. Perhaps I suffer with some form of selective OCD, but as a rule, once I have a plan or routine, I will stick to it!
When I host courses with guest instructors, I typically book accommodation, travel arrangements and plan meals etc at least six months in advance. Normally that allows plenty of time for everything and I have a routine for my planning.
Recently however I discovered that sometimes happy accidents can disrupt a plan, but if you are prepared to be flexible then perhaps circumstances and opportunity that arise by accident can be the best experiences of all!
For this year’s course with Aidan Trimble Sensei, I had booked halls back in January. Then around February time when I went to book Sensei’s accommodation, I was shocked to discover that the normal hotel was fully booked. In fact, ALL the hotels in Petersfield (AND CLANFIELD… my backup plan) were at capacity!
My first instinct was to consider asking Sensei to change the dates, but I never like changing plans especially when I know that people would have already began making arrangements.
So, I settled down Infront of my laptop and found a rural cottage for Sensei to stay in, but I could only book it for a minimum of two nights. It suddenly dawned on me that there must be an event happening over the weekend and thus the laws of supply and demand were at play!
I opened a new tab on my browser and typed:
‘what is happening near Petersfield on the 17th of September’.
The answer popped up immediately.
The weekend of the 16th, 17th and 18th of September is the prestigious Goodwood Revival weekend.
Oh! That makes sense I thought….. suddenly I had realised my mistake.
Then I had a thought.
A friend of mine Mike and his partner Charlene run an online vintage clothing business and over the last few years I Have seen there Facebook posts of the Revival and it looked an awesome day out.
People come from all over Europe and dress in Vintage apparel from the eras that Goodwood was active as a race circuit. You can dress in World War two uniform, swagger in as a country gent or rock up as a Mod from the 1960’s.
Add to that the thousands of classic cars at the event and even the vintage bikes and cars racing around the track, and you can understand why the event is so popular.
Anyone who knows Sensei Trimble will be aware that he is a fun character and extremely outgoing. I don’t know anyone who looks forward to Halloween with such enthusiasm, so I asked Sensei if he would like to stay the extra night after training and go to Goodwood.
Sure, enough he said yes.
So suddenly I had two reasons to look forward to the weekend. A day of Karate and a day of Vintage themed fun.
This year I decided to host the course at the Clanfield centre as the facilities are great, really-clean and the staff always look after us so well. I had combined our mornings classes as many students would be training all afternoon and Wayne and I were onsite teaching from 9.30am.
It was great to see the nervous look on Sensei Wayne Lee’s face when he suddenly realised Aidan was watching him teach through the doors. 😊
I have trained with lots of instructors over the years and I have recently realised that not all senior karate teachers share the same abilities or characteristics.
Charisma & Empathy - Sensei Essentials
Karate knowledge and ability are of course the most important pre-requisites, but I also highly value the skill of those who appreciate the need for ‘fun’ and can leave the students buzzing and confident of there skill and development. Charisma and empathy are key!
Aidan Sensei can put the students at ease but still push them to new levels while everyone leaves with a smile on their face. What a great skill-set to have!
When the combined class had finished, I greeted Sensei and we caught up over a coffee while students began to arrive and register for the afternoons training. Soon midday was approaching, and we all moved to the dojo to begin proceedings.
Students in attendance were by invitation as I feel these extra courses are a privilege that comes with diligent and regular training. In addition to our dojo members friends from the Isle of Wight, Kensho in East Sussex and Jess from the South Downs dojo joined us. The hall was full and ready to go!
In Class With Sensei
The first hour was a fundamentals class working on stances and transition. We had all grades from 10th kyu to 5th dan training well together and working up a sweat. Sensei Jon Watson had warmed us all up and it was good to see him hold the pads for Sensei to demonstrate Ushiro Geri on towards the end of the class.
The hour flew by and personally I found it great fun to be amongst everyone for a change and not out the front teaching.
For the second hour I had asked Sensei to focus on kumite and we had all grades from Orange belt and above stay for this training. We focused on attacking with intent and breaking line and adjusting angles. We got to work in small groups and utilise pads for effective striking. My personal highlight in this class was the look on a young red belts face (Elliott) when he saw Sensei Mawashi Jodan Paul from Brighton for the first time. It was as if I could hear him thinking,
'yes…. That is why I am here!’.
For the final class the kata of choice was Gankaku. We have some senior members who have chosen this kata to grade with soon for third dan. I thought it would be of value to have Sensei’s input on bunkai and performance, so I was keen to see how the class responded.
Sure-enough Sensei had some unique and interesting ideas that I had not seen or thought of before. The brown and black belts were buzzing and I enjoyed my pair up with Ionut from the Petersfield dojo.
Educational, Intense and Fun!
The three hours seemed to go too quickly, but as predicted Sensei had managed to balance the work, education, intensity, and fun expertly. Everyone left the dojo happy and looking forward to our next course.
In the evening Sensei and I were joined by members from the club for a delicious Chinese meal at Tai Tong followed by a couple of refreshments over the road in the old drum. I really enjoy sitting back and watching our dojo members getting to know each other and having fun. Great to see Jen out on her birthday too. 😊
Karate takes Goodwood
The next day I picked Sensei up from his rural digs and we headed over to the Goodwood estate through the backroads of West Sussex, ignoring my sat-nav so-as-to avoid the queuing traffic on the ring road around Chichester.
I had opted for the Peaky Blinder look while Sensei opted for Austrian Banker 😊. I knew that Aidan would embrace the vintage style.
On arrival at Goodwood, we were amazed at the scale of the event. Not least the classic cars in the special car park. You could easily spend all day walking around that area for free!
We had a wonderful day with lots of fun, laughs and good karate chat. We even got to see Jenson Button demonstrating his class in a classic E-Type easily lapping at least 4 seconds faster than his nearest opponent.
During the day Sensei mentioned to me that he had in-fact seen a Revival of sorts in karate itself since the pandemic.
Numbers and enthusiasm for our art seem to be on the ascendancy and that’s a good thing. I questioned whether that was a result of the popularity of Cobra Kai. But Sensei said regardless he thinks it is in many places a consequence of the effort some instructors put in throughout lockdown.
I wholeheartedly agree!
The Goodwood revival is a wonderful event. It is filled with goodwill, fun and elegance. People stop each other to compliment style and wardrobe….. even to comment on the effort people have gone to. I even saw a few babies in vintage prams.
A Karate Mindset
The event suggests what the world was like in the bygone days. Simpler days when manners, attitude and standards of personal presentation were valued much higher.
Perhaps it is a quest for these values that has helped bring about the current revival in karate circles?
I am not sure, but I like to think there are definite synergies at play here.
Karate offers clear boundaries and expectation on behaviour and presentation which in the right hands can be complimented with moments of fun.
Aidan Sensei is an expert at this, which is why I am thrilled to host him at the dojo.