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European Black Belt Seminar 2019 in Sweden

Itosu-kai European Black Belt Seminar 2019

Soke Sakagami (4th generation Itosu-ryu Headmaster) teaches at European Black Belt Seminar

Finally, after more than one year of preparations we were all gathered at Bosön, Sweden's largest training facility for elite sports. Karatekas from seven countries came to Sweden to meet, practice, make new friends but most of all learn from Soke Sakagami’s vast knowledge and experience. And thanks to Sensei Oda´s skills in languages we could all benefit from every bit of instruction.

Starting with basics

Itosu-kai European Black Belt Seminar 2019

The days at Bosön started by focusing on basics. Striking, blocking, kicking, stances, moving across the floor. All the things that you have to go back to over and over again. The more you practice, the more you experience that there is always something to improve, angle of the foot, twist of your hand, length of stance, weight distribution, balance etcetera. And if you love kihon – these where moments of bliss.

Moving on to katas

Itosu-kai European Black Belt Seminar 2019

From basics we moved on to katas. During the practice, we covered the Pinan series, Jitte, Jiin, Jion, Kusanku dai, Bassai dai, Kusanku Sho and Seisan. With Soke Sakagami as our guide each kata where thoroughly examined, as a whole, main movements and small details. Karate, and katas in particular, is a never-ending puzzle where new pieces are added, small things suddenly makes sense all the whole picture gets a little bit clearer. The guidance of Soke is a great way of evolving ones stumbling road, aiming for perfection. And every time you have the chance to practice with him. The more you realize how little you know. But the city of Rome wasn’t built in a day so we will just continue adding bricks, aiming for the stars.

Night swim in ice cold water

Baltic Sea

But the days were not just filled with karate. On Friday evening, after training, there was sauna and open water swim. The water temperature was considered very, very, very, very cold. Probably less than 9 degrees Celsius. But the sauna did the job and low temperature has never stopped members of Itosu-kai. And as far as we know, everybody survived. After sauna we ended up in the bar, talking, laughing at memories, sharing thoughts and karate insights.

Spitting frogs and throwing boots

On Saturday, after practice, everybody was invited to take part in Swedish Midsummer Games. Traditions like folk music, crazy dances “the small frogs”, a number of different games like boot throwing, frog spitting and sack jumping where introduced. In the end one brave member, with a strong stomach, from each country, was facing the ultimate food challenge – “fermented herring”. Ireland's Claire Harte turned out to be the super lady in this food contest. Well done! In the evening there was a Welcome Party dinner followed by entertainment, quiz and dancing.

Time to say good bye

All good things come to an end. On Sunday morning we practiced the Nahate katas. After lunch it was time to say good bye to all new and old friends. Chief instructors of the countries had a final meeting in Soke Sakagami’s room. Discussing various topics and listening to Itosu-kai Denmark’s plans for the Itosu-ryu international Championships in 2021

Thank you, Soke Sakagami, for all your great instructions, inspiration and patience with us all. Thank you, Sensei Oda, for being the best google translator in the world, you did a tremendous job during the days. Thank you sensei Anders from Denmark, sensei Leo from Ireland, sensei Charles from Scotland, sensei Rafael and Luis from Spain and sensei Gowridhasan from Switzerland for coming to Sweden. And thank you all black belts for participating. Looking forward to seeing you all in Denmark.

Sensei Göran Crafoord

Itosu-kai Sweden

Youtube video from European Black Belt Seminar 2019

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