Following successful karate demonstrations and taster sessions with local scout and guide groups, E.S.K.K were invited back for more; this time for the 1st Hensingham cubs. On Monday 19th November, Sensei Chris Denwood, Stuart Graham and John Smallman were given a warm and enthusiastic welcome at Hensingham school by a lively group consisting of a couple of dozen cubs and a handful of scouts, explorers and their leaders. Having arranged the session as one of the usual Monday night cub leaders, I (Dave Forsythe) had also changed from my usual uniform, necker and woggle into my dogi for the night to help with the taster session.
Although some of the cubs had martial arts experience (including a few E.S.K.K members), as with earlier sesions with Seascale and St Bees cub groups, most of the wide eyed audience had no idea what to expect and were wondering why their ususal monday night leader was in "fancy dress". After a short introduction by Chris, we were quickly into a demonstration of Naihanchi kata followed by some "posture testing" with Chris using John to demonstrate to the cubs how we check for correct posture at the senior dojo. The loud crack of Sensei's hands slappinng hard on john's shoulders and the sight of seemingly powerful kicks to test John's structure was, as always, a pretty effective means to grab attention and reduce the background murmour to a stunned silence. Had anyone dropped a pin, we'd have known about it.
There then followed a progressive series of gentle warm up exercises for the cubs (and a leader or two) to follow along to, introducing them to joint mobilisation and preparing the body for exercise. They were shown and then practiced some basic strikes, blocks and kicks while also learing a few Japanese words and some of the principles of traditional karate such as focussing of energy and concentration through "kiai" and the importance of trying hard and being prepared to push that bit further. The combination of increasingly hard exercise and the practical demonstrations of the principles ate away at the available time at an alarming rate and it was soon time to draw the session to a close with a chance for the cubs to hit some pads and recap on what they had learned and how the principles can be applied to school, home and sports alike.
The booming command of "PACK, PACK, PACK!" from the main leader Eddie Stewart, brought the cubs to attention, at "alert" in readiness for closing down the session and a special, surprise thank you for the guest martial artists. Chris, John and Stuart were invited to recite the "promise" with three fingered salute, as an induction to be honorary cubs of the 1st Hensingham Scout Group. Eddie presented each with a group "necker" and scout leaders "woggle" to well earned cheers and applause. Cub leader, Pauleen Wignall said she never thought she would ever be trying out karate herself but she very much enjoyed the experience. Eddie Stewart described it as an absolutely fantastic night. The smiles of the cubs, scouts, explorers and leaders were only bettered by the huge, cheshire cat grins of the new honorary cubs sporting their new neatly rolled neckers. I think eddie's assessment was just about right; a fantastic night indeed.