On January 15 and 16 Hanshi Albert Mady, Kudan from Windsor ON visited chilly Thunder Bay ON for an intensive weekend of training. Throughout the weekend representatives from every dojo in Thunder Bay came out to train. Nearly every kata in Isshinryu were practised with Hanshi Mady providing insight and perspective on each.

Friday night saw advanced kobudo kata polished up. Hanshi took us through Tokumine no kun, Urashi no kun, Kusanku no sai, Chatan Yara no sai, and Shi shi no kun. The evening was jam-packed with high level martial arts action and interesting discussion on the minutiae and subtleties of technique that accompany any gathering of dedicated karateka. As a nidan I have yet to learn Shi shi no kun but Hanshi Mady encouraged those of us unfamiliar with the kata to try and follow along. Let me say I enjoyed the opportunity and now have a deeper understanding of why this is one of the final katas you learn in Isshinryu if not an understanding of the kata itself.

Saturday was filled primarily with empty hand kata, beginning with Seisan and working through each kata up to Sunsu in great detail exploring some great bunkai while we were at it. As is typical of Hanshi Mady’s technique every bunkai was direct and devastating. Students at all levels were able to adapt and apply each technique to make it work, which is the true testament of good bunkai. Some recurring themes that came up were the use of the arm bar/arm lock as a take down and fast, powerful strikes to finish opponents.

The day ended with Tokumine no kun and Kusanku no sai for those karateka not included in the Friday night seminar. Hanshi also used this opportunity to introduce some partner drills for the weapons which allowed participants to gain a true feeling of using their bo and sai against a real opponent. It makes an enormous difference in your understanding of a weapon when you are facing a living person and striking a real weapon. I think every participant walked away with a greater respect for the power of the bo and sai and a better grip on how the weapons need to move in order to be effective.

All in all the weekend was a resounding success and I know I speak for everyone who attended when I sincerely thank Hanshi Mady for sharing his expertise with us.