I don’t always create posts about training events I attend, but sometimes I feel they are big enough in scope that other martial artists would enjoy hearing about them. This year’s event held by the International Karate Kobudo Federation definitely qualifies. Senior instructors from multiple styles got together and shared with students in a spirit of open learning.

2014 marked the 30th Anniversary of the IKKF Annual Training. Since its inception, the gathering has operated in the spirit of Old Okinawa. Many folks believe that the modern mindset of karate mirrors that of generations past, but that is not the case. Going back just 2-3 generations Okinawa was home to much sharing and mutual testing of karate technique. The development of “ryu” is a fairly modern invention, and the idea that one ryu should never mingle with another is an even more recent phenomenon.

Observe the pictures below:

ikkf annual instructors
1964 Gathering on Okinawa  2014 IKKF Gathering in Pennsylvania
Featured in this photo: Featured in this photo:
Isshin Ryu
Shimabukuro Tatsuo
Uezu Angi
Shimabukuro Kichiro
Isshin Ryu
Nick Adler
Marylin Fierro
Shorin Ryu
Shimabukuro Eizo
Shorin Ryu
Bill Hayes
Okinawa Kenpo
Nakamura Shigeru
Oyata Seiyu
Okinawa Kenpo
Bruce Heilman
Ann Marie Heilman
Toma Shian
Jody Paul
 _  _

If you compare the old photo with the new you will notice a lot of direct Teacher->Student connections. Individuals like Nick Adler, Bill Hayes, Jody Paul, Larry Isaac, etc. are carrying on the traditions handed down to them. There used to be an Okinawa mindset of preserving the core fundamentals of a style while enhancing aspects of the art through exposure to teachers of particularly high skill in one area or another. It was a mindset built on developing effective life protection and is as important a tradition to preserve as any technique or kata.

Training Moments

The weekend’s event was broken up into a series of training time slots with multiple sessions going on during each time slot. Sometimes the sessions were formally established in terms of content while at other times small groups broke in and out of each other, generating a sort of training soup. In the end students were exposed to ideas they didn’t know they needed as well as content they specifically came to find.

The following are some moments caught in action:

jody paul toide Jody Paul, Sensei, beginning to demonstrate the footwork of Motobu Udundi. This is critical for understanding one of Okinawa’s oldest preserved martial systems.
bill hayes karate theory Bill Hayes, Sensei, discussing higher level karate theory. Hayes Sensei is known for helping long time black belts understand “what comes next”.
bruce heilman session Bruce Heilman, Sensei, elaborating on bo concept in both kata and bunkai.
ibarra aikijujujtsu Miguel Ibarra, Sensei, introducing students to aikijujutsu. Ibarra Sensei mixes old style technique with decades of law enforcement experience.
 okinawa kenpo friendship  Renewing friendships between Okinawa Kenpo seniors (Ann Marie Heilman, Larry Isaac, Bruce Heilman).
 rick zondlo sword  Rick Zondlo, Sensei, adding some sword work into the training mix.
 womens self defense  Women’s self defense roundtable led by Nancy Caliguri, Sensei, and Ann Marie Heilman, Sensei.
 kama kata class  Kama kata led by Dan Rupert, Sensei, and Doug Hoover, Sensei. No mats were harmed by dropped kama.

A number of other topics were covered throughout the three day event, including Brazilian Jujitsu, weapon disarms, empty hand kata, and more.

Kobudo Demonstrations

On Friday evening I had the opportunity to demonstrate some weapons and empty hand kata and concepts for the group. The following video is a small collection of moments from that demonstration, including Bo kata, Eiku Kata, Kama Kata, and Kama Bunkai.

Final Thoughts

Despite the carpets that were a little past their design prime, the Inn at Reading proved to be an ample host for the weekend’s event. The floor space allowed for any and all weapons while the banquet setup (also on-site) provided an elegant atmosphere. All-in-all it was a memorable event and I hope we can build on it next year. Perhaps some of you reading can join us in the festivities!

To see more pictures visit the IKKF Facebook Page.