In 2011, we were visited by Olaf Meulenberg, a Black Belt, from Budokan Bochum eV. He was visiting Malta for his holidays and spent some weeks training with us. After going back to Germany, he wrote the following article which appeared in a Karate magazine which is sold in Germany.
For the past years, I have been practising Karate, even when on holiday. After the Azores and Greece, 14 days in Malta were next on the list, and the Karate Gi, was again in the luggage with me.
After inquiring at the Karate-Association, whether training at one of the local Karate-clubs was possible, I opted for the “Academy of Shotokan Karate”. Training here was scheduled for twice weekly. Each lesson lasted one and a half hours, whereby mostly, an extra half hour was added.
Before the first training session, I was greeted by Sensei Edward Aquilina, 4th Dan Shotokan Karate, member of the Dan Examining Board in Malta. After a short briefing, he invited me to a tough but interesting training session. I also had the pleasure to watch 10 “hungry” young men aged between 19 and 28, who were at the moment preparing themselves for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dan exams.
Sensei Aquilina, 6-times Maltese Master in Shiai-Kata, has been practising Karate since 1984. The qualified P.E. teacher is an Assistant Head at a local school. In 1991, he established his own Karate-Association. 7 clubs can be found in Malta, all members of the Maltese Karate Association and WKF. From the 400, 000 inhabitants, approximately 1000 people, mostly young, practice Karate. In order to induce new impulses in the advanced students, Sensei Santo Torres, an Italian National Coach, 7th Dan is often regularly invited here.
After a sweat-inducing warming up, we started with Kihon-Training. Sensei Aquilina put emphasis on the basic techniques. He stated that only from the stable footwork and stance, the optimal strength and technique development possible. An intense, varied Kihon and various sequences taken from the advanced Katas were practised, in an Exam oriented manner. A variety of Kaeshi-Ippon and Jiyu-Ippon were also practised during the session. A variety of Zuki and Keri-strikes involved Suri-Ashi and Kai-Ashi movements in all directions, with fast and tough blocking techniques together with various counter techniques by the opponents. Besides using the Seiken-strike, Sensei Aquilina requested his students to counter-attack flexibly, using Empi, Haito, Shuto, Nakadaka- Ken etc. Once again, sequences of higher Kata were incorporated. Principles of Go-no-sen as Sen-no-sen were mutually internalized. Despite a balanced stance and footwork roots, priority was always given to absolute control and fairness towards the opponent.
Randori and Happo-Kumite techniques made our training session even more varied. The Kata-training was exam-oriented, which hardly differ from the ones we have in Germany. Timing, sequence and stable stance were intensively carried out through advanced Katas. Sensei Aquilina observed all participants very attentively whereby correction and guidance followed regularly.
Sensei Aquilina was interested in learning, how Karate is structured in Germany. To the best of my knowledge, I shared with him information and obviously recommended the websites of DKW, KDNW and DDA. He was highly interested in the training development and the kind of opportunities of advanced Karatekas, which are offered in Germany. The principles behind teaching health education and Karate-Teacher training, as well as the Jukuren-project, showed him new perspectives of Karate. He equally found the description of Sensei Bernd Milner’s training sessions in BUDOKAN Bochum very appealing. Sensei Aquilina also showed great respect to the fact that Bernd Milner is the only Karateka in Germany ever to be successfully awarded the 8th Dan.
I thanked Sensei Aquilina and his students for the impressions gained during the four training sessions- impressions, which could also give my development new impulses. We agreed to keep in touch, and since Sensei Aquilina had already been planning for some time to visit Germany, our meeting has surely given him enough motivation to “christen” his Karate-Gi in a dojo of the DKV( German Karate Association).
Article written by Mr Olaf Meulenberg, Black Belt, Budokan Bochum eV