I made it along to the middle seminar, and was gratified that three of my students -- Lejoe, Jeremy, and Damian -- all new to jiu-jitsu this year, but keen! -- also made the trip out to the Honbu dojo for two packed hours.
At the next class at my club, following the lesson, I asked the seminar attendees them to join me at the front of the class and talk a bit about their seminar experience by describing a personal highlight. These included:
- Damian seeing "fireworks" when Kancho struck a couple of pressure-points on his wrist.
- Lejoe seeing a technique demonstrated in the middle and wondering whether Kancho's uke was just "falling for him", until Kancho repeated the technique on Lejoe, and all doubt as to its efficacy vanished
- Learning about breathing, mental aspects, and of course martial arts applications of animal movements from both guest instructors
- Shihan Angelo's message to work to simplify your martial art as you progress
My own highlights included having Hanshi refer to our Kancho as "young fella", and the opportunity to train with and share knowledge with martial artists from other schools and other arts.
Some of the animals discussed were the crane (pictured), tiger, monkey, snake, deer, gorilla, and even the squid.
I also liked this format: I would happily attend a series of seminars given by any of the presenting masters, but it was also inspiring to see them working together. I was left wanting more.
* * *
It's also worth mentioning that Shihan Angelo blends his day job as a zoo-keeper with his martial arts avocation. Rather than learn about animal styles from other humans he has used his day-job as a zoo-keeper as an opportunity to extensively study from the ultimate source, the animals themselves. In turn his karate has been influenced by what he has learned from his decades of working with and observing the animals, supplemented by additional, more traditional studies leading to his own unique blend.
Now for the plug: Shihan Angelo offers a fairly regular and, I dare-say, unique one-session class open to the general public entitled Animals and the Martial Arts, held at the Melbourne Zoo. Having heard how great the seminar was, many of my students were keen on a visit to the zoo with a difference. I plan to get along at some stage, too.