DAVE HAZARD & AIDAN TRIMBLE
MASTERCLASS MARCH 09
To have the opportunity to train with the likes of Dave Hazard 7th Dan ASK (Academy of Shotokan Karate) or Aidan Trimble 7th Dan FSK (Federation of Shotokan Karate) is a real treat. They are two of the most respected and sought after British Instructors, in demand internationally to teach their dynamic and awe-inspiring shotokan karate.
To have the unique opportunity to train with them both in the same class however made this course a truly UNMISSABLE event.
Looking back to my childhood as a karateka training in South Wales, when I was a part of the KUW (Karate Union of Wales), two of the instructors I vividly remember training with were Dave Hazard and Aidan Trimble. Mike O’Brien, Chief Instructor of the KUW often invited instructors from outside of Wales to come and teach, and these were the first karateka I ever trained with outside of the luscious land of Wales.
I remember the first time I saw these two inspirational instructors work together on VHS (remember those?) in the first part of their Applied Karate Series. I adored this video; but constant pausing, rewinding and re-watching virtually wore it out from overuse. Thankfully the video is now available on DVD along with the other two parts of the series so that all these years on, I can still reference them with such eagerness.
Then I bought their book ‘Fundamental Karate’ – what a book. Often you buy textbooks that contain good information, but are sometimes let down by the pictures, as the techniques demonstrated don’t adhere to the points being made in the text…not with this book however. This is one of my favourite books, with the spine well and truly broken in, with constant referencing that borders on an ‘obsession’. I guess the point I am making is that these men work superbly together, and the quality of their material whether in the book, DVD or ‘Seminar’ format is always of the highest quality.
I like to think that I am an organised person, but as Emma constantly tells me, it is merely a delusion. Every year I buy a new diary, with the promise to myself that this time, I will use it. Do I ever? Noooo, of course not, that would make life far too simple. The weekend of the 14/15th March had two seminars going on that we were desperate to attend, so we did a day of each to be greedy.
On the Sunday morning we rose bright and early, excited for the training ahead. We had been to Aidan Trimble’s beautiful purpose built dojo, entitled ‘THE DOJO’ once before when Sensei Hazard had hosted a course there a few months before, so we knew how to locate it. It was to be another beautiful day, making it – if I am correct – one of the first sunny weekends of the year. The sun was out, bright and shining, and when we pulled up outside ‘The Dojo’, Sensei Hazard and a collection of other karateka were socialising.
From our travels following Sensei Hazard around the UK, we recognised many of the faces. This is one of the things we love most about travelling; developing friendships with people from all over. To our delight however, there were many people that we had not met previously. This is always exciting, the prospect of meeting and training alongside new people, and planting fresh seeds.
After getting dressed, we popped our head around the door to the office where Aidan Trimble sat. He met us with his welcoming smile and handshake. This is one of the things we have come to realise through travelling and training with a wide variety of different people. The most open, welcoming, humble and generous karateka tend to be the most talented. Aidan Trimble, Dave Hazard, and a long list of others are a perfect example of this.
The first class was to be Gankaku – an exciting prospect as this is, in my opinion, not only one of the hardest kata to execute effectively, but is also one of my favourites.
When we initially arrived for training, everyone who had been in attendance on the Saturday gave us the ‘low-down’ as to what the previous day had involved. I smiled along, glad to hear the previous day had been such a success, but inside gutted to hear what I had missed. The previous day had been amazing by all accounts; and I consoled myself in the excitement for what the day was to hold.
I was fascinated in hearing, and excited to see how the classes would run. Typically, when we have attended courses taken by two instructors, each class is run separately by the two instructors. Sometimes there’s a common theme overlapping, but they are stand-alone lessons – one with one instructor, another with another instructor.
I was excited however by the approach of this weekend. Each session was to be taken by both instructors…and it was seamless. So perfect did they fit one another’s teaching style that you would have thought it was scripted. They complimented one another’s teaching style ideally.
During this session, Sensei Trimble taught the kata’s movements, breaking the kata down into manageable chunks. Each sequence methodically taught, placed great emphasis on ensuring the movement did not simply end at its destination correctly, but that it travelled there across the most effective route. This for example was very evident when he spoke about the trajectory of the manji-game-uke. He stressed the need to not just pull back, but to make sure it covered the face fully and efficiently. This gave the movements meaning, and deep purpose.
Watching Sensei Trimble move was very inspirational. He is of a very strong build, tall and very powerful. Typically I find it very difficult to relate to such karateka as I am little more than a green-bean in size. He however had the sharp, dynamic movement that I am always trying to emulate when I watch smaller karateka who are more relatable to my build.
Sensei Trimble gave us a full insight into how the kata should be executed, leading brilliantly by example at the front of the class.
He placed particular attention on the characteristic movement of the kata, Gankaku-Dachi. He highlighted the need to gain full stability through the architecture of the stance, using one force against another to achieve strength and steadiness.
Punctuating the class wonderfully, Sensei Hazard taught the application in the way that only he can. Using his charismatic teaching style to bring alive the kata so excellently taught by Sensei Trimble, he set about giving movements meaning. I tend to think of application almost like filling the shapes of the kata, giving them weight and purpose and this is what Sensei Hazard did brilliantly.
If it doesn’t work or serve a purpose, he doesn’t teach it. His applications, made to look easy by his skilled demonstrations, elevated our understanding of the kata and its movements. For example, he demonstrated a classical application for the first movement of the kata. Then he gave us some effective variations, such as a grab to the throat, dealt with by a wrist lock and efficient finish. He highlighted that in an instance where you are being punched, applying a lock would not only be dangerous, but would also very almost impossible. Therefore, he explained, the technique better suits a grab to the throat.
I love to watch Sensei Hazard move, the way he uses his power is mesmerising. As you will see in some of the pictures where I am in the background when Sensei Hazard is demonstrating, my jaw looks like it has become unhinged.
As one instructor was teaching the class, the other walked around and gave advice…keeping their keen, analytical eyes on the crowd. They were watching everyone, always keen to give advice and push the development of the class forward.
This may sound odd considering the number of people in the class, but training on the session almost felt like personal tuition with two of the UK’s most prominent and influential instructors. They were so close to you when you were training, they were watching constantly and always giving guidance.
This session was simply superb, I loved every second of it and was completely gutted when the class ended, so much so that I did the class a second time. Now, as I touched on at the very beginning of the class, due to the overwhelming interest in the course, the same two sessions were taught twice for two batches of different students. Therefore, you were either booked onto the first two classes or the second two classes. As I said at the very beginning of this report, when it comes to my training…I am greedy. I may be a green bean in stature, but when it comes to karate I am a blob, completely and utterly greedy and I never have enough. Therefore, cheeky me, I asked if we could do the Gankaku session a second time, and generous Sensei Hazard and Sensei Trimble said yes…I was thrilled.
I am a notorious note maker…I am constantly making notes. Over the years I have filled countless numbers of notebooks that I constantly go back to, read and contemplate what I have written – occasionally having obscure outbursts of hysteria as I read my terrible spelling. These Gankaku classes filled a good few pages (6 A4 Size pages in fact) in my most recent notebook.
The second class was based on close proximity kumite. Within this class, the instructors did separate drills – the first taken by Dave Hazard.
Anyone who ever trains with Sensei Hazard always comments on how he uses his hips to generate explosive and utterly devastating power. Being of a smaller build, he maximises impact by fully utilizing the power of the hips. This class opened with a smooth, but fully committed hip action from a natural stance with the left leg slightly forward (like Sanchin-Dachi). We built up this movement of the hips by adding the hands – which were doing jodan teisho-uchi. When Sensei moves his hips, he ensures a full body action by using the legs fully and effectively. Encouraging us to work from the ground upward, we were to use the legs and hips fully and in time with the hands.
Once the class had developed this sufficiently, we replaced the second teisho-uchi with a scooping pull back movement as the hips pulled back to hanmi. Then we used this rotation into hanmi to coil and spring dynamically forward with the second jodan teisho. This was a very tough exercise, with the objective on developing explosive and smooth hip actions to utilize the full body.
The next exercise, where we put this sequence to a partner, brought the movements to life. Sensei encouraged us to avoid drifting back to the classical stances, and desire to pull the hand back to hikite during this sequence. Instead he asked us to utilize the spare hand fully.
Sensei’s logical outlook on the transition from basics to close-proximity fighting always blows me away – he makes it such a natural process. I all so often find that many karate teachers give you the dots on a piece of paper, but never teach you how to join them to draw the bigger picture. You have all these separate, different entities – kihon, kata, basic kumite, advanced kumite, close proximity fighting; but you are rarely taught how they influence one another, work together and utterly depend on one another in order to make out the bigger picture. That is separate article entirely, but Sensei Hazard joins these dots. He gives you access to the bigger picture, and how to fully see it.
The second part of the session was taken by Sensei Trimble, who worked on a pre-emptive defence against a potentially violent attacker.
In a situation where there is an escalation of aggression, pre-emption is essential. If you wait to be attacked then you can be putting yourself in danger, and on the back foot. Reading the signs that reveal this escalation is essential for effective defence in such a violent situation…and the aggressive pointing of the finger is without doubt a an aggressive gesture that is all too commonly seen during this escalation of aggression.
We all know the quote ‘The best form of defence is attack’, and this is exactly what Sensei Trimble taught. Within this exercise, the opponent comes aggressively forward pointing the finger, to which the defender grabs, applies a lock whilst dropping the body weight. This highlighted the use of Neko-ashi-dachi as a useful transitional stance before the next set of movements.
In partners, this exercise was built up, one stage at a time. For the next movement, we were to step forward into zenkutsu-dachi whilst taking the leg behind them and using our elbow on the finger grasping side to drop them.
When on the ground they would try and break free, from the wristlock we were now applying, by grasping our arm. We were to break their arm by using our body weight downward.
This was very, very enjoyable…I’m still buzzing as I relive it now!
The two parts of the session took the form of two separate sequences…the over-riding theme however was so present in both. Both classes fully utilized the whole body as a unit in order to inflict maximum damage, and this was the central objective of both classes.
In Sensei Hazard’s sequence we were to use the hips defend, turn the opponents head and violently attack the back of their head with the teisho-uchi. From the sequence in line training, with utmost focus on the hips until its superb finale in partner work, it was all based around the use of the body weight and how it can and should be used to maximum effect.
Sensei Trimble’s sequence had exactly the same overriding theme, very much present. When we were grabbing the finger, we were not using physical strength to drop the opponent down, we were simply going into neko-ashi-dachi and therefore dropping the body weight downward. When we took them to the floor, it was not a battle of the strongest, where only the body-builders would win, it was a simple matter of effectively using the body’s weight against them to do the job…and the same principle applied to every other part of the sequence.
It was completely and utterly seamless how the two sequences fit together, complemented one another and developed the same central theme. Utterly inspiring.
At the end of the day, Sensei Trimble kindly gave us two sets of his beautiful ‘The Dojo’ T-Shirts which will get a lot of wear! We were thrilled with the prezzie!
This was a course of utterly superb karate, from two outstanding karate teachers. During the sessions, you could sense the wonderful friendship and mutual respect both instructors had for one another. The atmosphere amongst everyone was just awesome, there was no ego, everyone was simply invested in having a superb weekend of karate.
I left feeling inspired, excited and absolutely buzzing for more…so, so excited for the next one!!!
Many thanks to the excellent Bernard Rose for kindly allowing us to use his photography. Please note also, that we have used photographs from the Saturday sessions to give you an additional taste of what the weekend contained.
See Below for Additional Photographs from Day 1: