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Abe sensei in Connecticut and Queens, 17th & 18th November. On Saturday 17th November at the Connecticut dojo of the WTKO run by Sensei Fred Serricio, we were treated to a special seminar by Abe Keigo sensei, formerly of the JKA and now founder and chief instructor of the JSKA and on the advisory board of the WTKO. Although there was a couple of colored-belt grades including one brave white belt, most of the class of 30 were fairly high ranking black belts including all the senior guys from the WTKO executive committee. It didn't really matter what level the students were, however, because Abe sensei started with basics of such simplicity we all slogged away together for the first hour.

The pace of these basics, though, didn't let up and layer upon layer of variations were added relentlessly. Gyaku-zuki was repeated jodan, chudan & gedan, mae-geri like-wise, then oi-zuki again and again up and down, before changing the angles to test the pivot points and then mixing it up with age-uke, soto-uke and shuto-uke.We continued with no let-up of more of the the same using a partner during gohon-kumite. Abe sensei was changing tack according to weaknesses he was picking up and he felt that our stances were generally unstable during kihon-kumite. 

We once again paired up with different partners to put each other under pressure by grunting and sweating our way through another dozen rounds of gohon-kumite but holding each attack for 10 seconds or so with the arms pressing maximally against our opponent's blocks, veins popping, until each command of "relax!" was called. Unfortunately the time flew by rather too quickly and there was not enough left to fully explore Sochin which was repeated several times but not taken apart as extensively as hoped. Still, I think most of us felt that Abe sensei was very approachable and with Sensei Amos assisting, any questions were answered with a clarity and thoroughness usually unexpected with Japanese instructors. The class was brought to an end much before Abe sensei had tired of making point after point because there was an important dan test to conduct. Among those who were successful were WTKO executive committee members John Mullin (6th dan), Fred Serricio (5th dan), Ed VanVeen (4th dan).

On the Sunday Abe sensei was at Sensei Larrea's dojo in Queens and, for those of us wanting to get some more depth to kata practice, we were in for a treat. Contrary to the meager 15 minutes that were available for kata on the Saturday we had a full 4 hours of intense practice of Gojushiho-dai. Each basic key point was first taken out of the kata for repetitions and questioning, the kata was put back together then taken apart again, questions were freely asked, applications were enthusiastically explained, and I'm sure everybody's Gojushiho-dai improved considerably.

Over the 2 days that I attended (he was also at Sensei John Mullin's on Friday night and Sensei Tommy Casale's on Monday) it was made apparent to me that the secret of obtaining the Japanese "feeling" to one's karate is having a knowledgeable instructor drill certain points without rest for hours on end. That's it! Not so difficult a concept but slightly more difficult in practice. T.T.