On the invitation of Shyam Sreekumar, a former Enshin karateka who obtained his nidan (2nd dan) in 2003, I spent one week teaching at his Urban Aakhada functional fitness gym from 8am to 11pm at night with several classes in-between. Some students didn’t even leave the dojo, wanting to soak as much learning as possible -so even after a session, they would be practising what I had just taught, and then we would carry on with informal class until the next class proper would start. Did I get tired – I seem to thrive on sharing as that gets the Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) pumping. We would have late night suppers and then I still had to catch up on some workload. So generally it was late hours for me, but I seemed to have managed.
Soon after my arrival, Daya Shankar Pal, our Mumbai branch representative came to greet with several of the students and other. I normally stop over by them in Mulund, but this visit was specific on the invitation of Shyam Sreekumar with one other visit to a Shotokan dojo of Jitendra Kori.
I was rather impressed with the candour and willingness of the students to want to learn – that attitude is a teacher’s dream. Personally I could teach a lot – whilst not an Ashihara dojo, I could teach the basics and principles of the style with movement, exercise and so much more that by the time we ended, students seemed to have grasped the principles of Sabaki very well and also managed to learn the first kata we teach – Shoshinsha Sono Ichi (Beginners kata 1) as well as the various methods of application. I also gave them an overview of the next kata – Kihon Kata Ichi.
Other than that, I could teach them some of the basics of the Bo and Arnis – which they can now practise in their own time. With several clips on our YouTube channel, they can easily learn more although I did share 20+gig of material with the black belts to share with the others.
Shyam also has two other black belts with Enshin rank Jagan Natarajan (2nd Dan – 2012) and Manali Purohit (1 Dan – 2004). The dojo also has a shotokan black belt mom training with her son. I was rather impressed with Sarita Shetty with her fast learning to adapt to circular concepts coming from a linear style background.
I took the opportunity to assess the students as none had tested for any rank and some have been training for close to two years. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing their performance and do a belt testing either with a next visit or Shyam will do so himself. Shyam had also decided to become a member of our World Sabaki Federation (WSF) and I could award him with dojo membership. He will now be working on the requirements for further learning.
At the end of the visit, I awarded students with a certificate of participation. On my last day I had to go to Mumbai central to collect some goods I had ordered. As usual I met up with Kunal Pal, my trusted guide and a senior black belt student in Mumbai who normally accompanies me everywhere. I was accompanied by Vinay of Urban Aakhada. Currently its Monsoon in India, and rains fell non-stop with a few deaths by drowning as it was flooding in some areas. Our Surat team came led by Panual Amin were driving down, but had to turn back due to the extreme rain and poor road conditions. Sadly due to traffic exacerbated by the rainy conditions, the Uber took 4.5 hours to drive 66km back to Dombivli from Crawford Market in Central Mumbai , I only reached the dojo at 10.15 and by then most of the students had left. The diehards waited and we did the certification and some left after getting theirs. The really tough ones stayed for the group picture which was taken around 11.30pm and then only left the dojo after midnight. For me then it was off to have dinner, then pack and leave for the airport.
Thank you to all at Urban Aakhada for the warm welcome and good spirit.
Hoosain Narker – Ashihara Kaicho