The 2015 Review

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So farewell 2015. It’s definitely been a Phoenix year for me, rising from the ashes of 2014, which I wrote about here.

January 2015 began with me just starting on solid food again following on from a lingual tonsillectomy just before Christmas. The surgeon did an excellent job removing the tissue from my tongue, the oncologists declared it cancer free, and other than one unplanned overnight stay in Oxford due to a post operative bleed in the new year, my recovery has been smooth.

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It was fun while it lasted!

Recovering from a year of chronic tonsillitis has naturally meant I’ve been able to benefit from greater activity and overall this has been a good year for both teaching and personal training. I’ve been very lucky to have a great group of students to work with in both my Shotokan and DART karate classes and they’ve really inspired me to continue to refine both my own karate technique and my teaching methods.

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Just enough to take the old car off the road…

February 2016 saw my recovery hit a slight setback when a driver used to being on the other side of the road drove straight into the passenger side of my car as I was on my way to training. Regrettably I suffered whiplash and related shoulder, neck and back problems as a result of the crash and these plagued me at intermittent intervals throughout the year up until October. The back injury put the brakes on some groundwork training that I wanted to do and I’ve deferred that until 2016 to make sure everything has healed fully. I have to say thanks to Linslade Physiotherapy and Dan White PT for their help and support in keeping me active and helping my recovery.

June saw my favourite seminar of the year, the Martial Arts Planet Annual Charity Meet at the High Wycombe Judo Centre. This year’s charity was CHECT, the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. I always enjoy this Meet with its mix of well-known and ‘hidden’ high quality instructors teaching across a broad range of martial arts. I limited my participation due to my back problems but taught a 90 minute seminar in support of the first three (previously published) volumes of the Pinan Flow System and enjoyed a great Judo class with Paralympic Silver medallist Ian Rose. I always come away from the MAP Meets bursting with ideas sparked by watching so many different martial artists from different styles all training together and 2015 was no exception. The 2016 MAP Meet on Saturday 21 May at Wycombe Judo Centre will be supporting Shelter and I’ll be writing to tell you all about it soon. In the meantime, mark the date in your diaries!

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It was my great pleasure this year to finish publishing the Pinan Flow System series. I had published the first two volumes in 2014, but now all four books in the series are now available worldwide in both paperback and ebook formats, and have been received very positively by the martia arts community. I’ve had a great time teaching this karate kata application material to my own students and sharing little snippets of Heian / Pinan bunkai on my youtube channel, but I’ve been humbled by how many of you have embraced the books and given the training concepts a try. I’ve already got a number of kata application seminars in the pipeline for 2016 which I’ve highlighted on my facebook page, including one with the excellent Andi Kidd, author of From Shotokan to the Street.

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The full set!

My summer treat this year was a trip to Frankfurt to enjoy a weekend of training with other karateka as part of Jesse Enkamp’s KNX 15, which I’ve already written about here. The event was marred slightly for me by a resurgence of my back injury and I completed each day’s training ‘well lubricated’ by 60mg of Codeine and 1000mg of Paracetamol four times a day. Somewhat embarrassingly Jesse asked me to demonstrate my version of the Shotokan form Nijushiho alongside his Ryuei Ryu Niseishi while in a haze of painkillers, and although I felt ‘all over the place’ as a result, the resulting video (which non attendees can purchase along with all the lessons from the weekend) doesn’t seem to have caused internet outrage yet. At the end of that seminar I did get to grade as a White belt with Master Ken and it will be up to people who train with me in future to discern if they can spot any Ameridote influences.

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Master Ken pulling rank!

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Yes, I now have a white belt. 🙂

One of the on-going projects of 2015 has been the renovation of my personal training dojo at home. This was a great space which suffered from a low ceiling that affected some of the training and filming I wanted to do, while the weakness of the beams made me unwilling to risk hanging a heavy bag for impact training.

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The old low and buckling beams.

This weakness has now been rectified with new support and while I still have some electrical and insulation work along with tidying up to complete before I can use the dojo regularly for my own training, I expect the project to be complete by the end of January 2016.

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The newly supported ceiling.

One of the many highlights of the year for me has been the scenario simulation training events that I’ve run for my own students and guests at the Wycombe Judo Centre. It’s always great to see the development of people on these days and very encouraging to see returnees applying the lessons of their previous experiences to better de-escalate situations or position themselves appropriately to escape or engage physically as required. I have had some amazing groups this year and we’ve all taken away good things from the training.

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A great mixed bunch of my own students and guest trainees.

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Another amazing bunch!

So this holiday I’m definitely going to raise a glass to 2015. I’ve met some fantastic people, made some great new friends, and recovered from a chronic illness. Looking forward I believe that I’m finishing 2015 stronger, faster, more flexible and more knowledgeable. 2016? Bring it on.

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