National Kata Course weekend 2023 – an outstanding success

Two sensational National Kata courses led by Yoshihiko Iura-sensei, a Kodokan 8th Dan and official Kodokan instructor (shidoin), were held over the weekend of 27th and 28th November 2023. 

The courses were organised by the Southern Area, hosted at the Army School of Physical Training in Aldershot, and supported by the BJA Kata Commission through Llyr Jones and Dave Horton-Jones.  Many other BJA Kata Officials attended, to enhance their own knowledge and to provide additional support to the course participants.

Day 1 – Ju-no-kata.  This was attended by 29 judoka, and Iura-sensei went through all aspects of the kata. The Kata Commission had been focussing on Ju-no-kata during the year providing many courses, and the prior knowledge of those attending was immediately apparent. Having worked through all the fifteen techniques, pairs had to then demonstrate them in complete sets of five, before moving on to the next set.  By the end of the day, all judoka in attendance had obtained a good understanding of the kata and were able to perform it to a good level. More experienced judoka were able to improve their performance and move to Level 2 or even 3 in some circumstances.  All BJA Kata Examiners and coaches were able to increase their understanding to pass on to BJA members.

In the evening ten course attendees participated in an informal dinner with Iura-sensei.

Day 2 – Kodokan Goshin-jutsu.  BJA Vice President and long-standing kata expert Mick Leigh, IJF 9th Dan, attended, along with some twenty-nine judoka.  The twenty-one techniques of this self-defence kata were studied throughout the day and course members particularly enjoyed practicing the sets with defences against various weapons. 

Attendance certificates were also presented by Iura-sensei at the end of each course.

Throughout the weekend continuous assessments were carried out by BJA National Kata Judges and Senior Kata Examiners, who also provided learning support.  All course attendees qualified for their Level 1 kata certificates, as a minimum. Those Level 1 certificate holders now return to their clubs to practice their kata with a partner to increase their knowledge to Level 2 standard, which can only be achieved by regular practice.  One new Senior Kata Examiner attending, Pete Whitfield, has already put together an ambitious Kata programme in the Western Area for 2024.

We look forward to Iura-sensei’s return to the UK to deliver another fantastic kata weekend in 2024 where we intend to cover Kime-no-kata and Koshiki-no-kata.

Following the event, Dave Horton-Jones, National Dan Gradings Manager and Kata lead said: “It was a great course where I was able to support my underpinning knowledge of the kata obtained from the EJU on-line seminars and previous practical training to gain an overall understanding of the kata and its principles. I am looking forward to tutoring this kata at Shudan Wellingborough on 10th December”.

Llyr Jones, Commission Chair added: “It was a wonderful weekend of learning.  I particularly enjoyed the Kodokan Goshin-jutsu session and was able to pick up some points of fine detail from Iura-sensei to increase the practical effectiveness of my techniques.  I am now really looking forward to welcoming him back to the UK for next year’s National Kata Course”.

Father and son pair Stuart and Yonas Aldous (Ely Dojo Club) were in attendance. Stuart, Ely Head coach  commented: The depth of knowledge shared was exceptional and Yoshihiko Iura-Sensei explained each and every technique in an engaging way that made even the most complicated movements understandable and relatable to our judo learning. On hand to answer any question, it was an exceptional masterclass that was an honour to participate in and learn from. The added bonus was the support from some British Judo kata experts over the weekend including Llyr Jones and David Horton-Jones, who were on hand to support and encourage our learning. As a judo coach I have so much to take back to our dojo and share with our members from this weekend.”

Yonas added: “I understand so much more about judo kata now. The principles behind the techniques and why they are important lessons to learn”.

There are some 17 kata courses still available in the UK up to the end of March 2024. See the BJA Events Calendar for more details.

Watch out for further news from British Judo by checking out our latest news section. You can also catch up via our official social media platforms, FacebookTwitter and Instagram.