Velibor Dimitrijevic - St Helens March 2009

Lindisfarne Sports Centre in St Helens provided an excellent venue and accommodation where for eight hours across two days Sensei Velibor Dimitrijevic taught Kase-Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate to a fascinated and increasingly fatigued group of eager students.

Sensei Dimitrijevic used the two days to give us building blocks to take away and use to develop 3 principles of karate-do; technique, breathing and mind. The course focussed on using the core – the hara – or tanden to generate power and stability combined with correct breathing and the right attitude to deal with “the bad guy” (an attacker with serious intent to do harm.)

The course was split into four parts, each taking the previous and adding to it whilst not bombarding the student with complicated patterns to learn which could result in the student losing focus on the 3 principles.

The first day opened with emphasis on breathing, using different inhalation & exhalation speeds and durations to give tools to improve breathing control so we can use breathing coupled with hara contraction to generate explosive force on each technique.

Stance control was practiced using simple (not easy!) stepping transitions covering each standard stepping action, forward, backwards, angles, sideways and spinning left and right, keeping the heel down, compressing the support leg and using the hara and breathing to fix the step on completion.

These exercises developed into a kicking sequence, again using every kick at least once and sometimes two kicks from one leg, again holding focus on hara and breathing with correct technique, tough on the legs and the brain!

Sunday started again with breathing which developed through kata practice, to see how good or bad our stances were, to using Tekki Shodan with the slow/fast breathing from the previous day, and then on to pair work which brought all the elements together.

Sensei Dimitrijevic made a clear point during the pair work that the attacker must be the “bad guy”, and attack attack attack ATTACK! I was relieved when being used as a demonstration “dummy” that I did not get the chance to experience Sensei Dimitrijevic as the ‘bad guy’ first hand!

Overall this excellent course gave me tools to take away and work on myself, be worked on by my Sensei, and in turn to pass on to other students. The ferocity and power of the strikes, blocks and kicks (as our guest, Theo Paraschivescu from Romania felt) of Sensei Dimitrijevic have to be felt for one to understand where on the ‘way’ you are and how much practice we all need – at lot more than twice a week  - to get there!

Thanks go to Michaylo Fedyk et al. for organisation.

by Chris Dagnan