Last night I went to Aikido of Scottsdale where I worked out with a local Kyokushin karate club that shares that dojo. The Sensei is, I believe, a Nidan (2nd degree blackbelt) but I’m afraid I can’t remember his name, so I am sorry about that–I am very bad with names! When we first met at the dojo I was saddened to hear that the last Shorin-Ryu practitioner that came to work with them had been very disrespectful, and so I hope that I was a better representative of the style (although I did not respond often with “osu” because I am not used to it, so I am sorry for that as well). He and his student (whose name I also forgot but it begins with a “J”) that worked out with us were both nice and he seemed very knowledgeable. Because he is from Hungary there was a bit of a language barrier, but after a little while of working with him I think you get a better feel for what he is saying.
The class itself was pretty intense. The warm-ups consisted of running nearly a mile outside, then doing sprints back and forth in the parking lot, then doing stretching inside After that we moved on to working kihon waza (basic techniques) out of low kiba-dachi (horse stance) which is something I haven’t done since I trained in Shuri-Ryu in Illinois (Shorin-Ryu does not have a low kiba-dachi), then working some more kihon and slightly more advanced waza out of sanchin-dachi (hourglass stance) which is much lower and wider in Kyokushin than I am used to from either Shuri-Ryu or Shorin-Ryu, and then we worked a variety of kicks up and down the mat, some of which I have never used before. Overall it made me feel rather out of shape, but I think I would have done a lot better if it hadn’t been for the running–I am a horrible runner and always have been, even when I was in excellent shape.
We moved onto sparring after all of that, so I was pretty worn out already. We (“J” and I) traded off sparring with Sensei and each other, and it was very obvious that the Sensei is very good and has tremendous conditioning–hitting him was about as effective as hitting a tree. I found it very difficult to change my fighting style to the Kyokushin method of facing your opponent and keeping both hands up by your head. In all of my sparring I am used to a side-facing stance and being very mobile, but in Kyokushin you get very close to each other and trade punches and kicks until someone can no longer continue. I also found it difficult to simply accept strikes to the body and ended up blocking more of them than I probably should have been. My other problem was that I kept wanting to punch them in the face and the Sensei was telling me to throw combinations, but all the combinations that I work include punches to the face so I was a bit thrown off.
The class was a very good learning experience, and I plan on going back every now and then, though I am not sure how often since it interrupts my normal training schedule to go there. I took quite a few punches and kicks to the body and I am only a little sore from that, which I consider pretty good since we don’t do full contact sparring in Shorin-Ryu, and my legs are very sore but I suspect that is mostly from the running and working out of the low stances I am no longer used to. The Sensei at Kyokushin Arizona is accommodating and knowledgeable, the classes are intense and educational, and I can assure you that if you go to train there you will be in much better shape than me in very little time!