Calum Nairn is bringing his traditional martial arts experience to Tillsonburg.
Nairn started his training at the age of 16 with the Inverness Karate Club in Scotland. One of his instructors was a 4th Dan black belt instructor, now 7th Dan. He also trained with a world-renowned shihan, now 9th Dan, focusing on a traditional shotokan style.
"In my era, the late 70s and early 80s, karate was very popular in Britain," said Nairn. "Most people, including me probably, started because they had seen the Bruce Lee movies like Enter the Dragon. I think it was the Bruce Lee influence that turned me to martial arts.
"I trained pretty hard for about 15 years, and competed, then had a little break and I continued to self train and exercise."
Locally, he trained with Martial Arts Canada, taught some classes and a couple of seminars with MAC, and is very good friends with instructors there. But Martial Arts Canada uses its own unique style and Nairn wanted to introduce Tillsonburg and area to the traditional shotokan style he grew up with.
"I was classically trained in the traditional shotokan style, very traditional, and it's held me in good stead over the years. It's been a very good foundation. A lot of it is like building a house, if the foundation is good you can go on and do whatever you want with your martial art. You have to build a good, solid foundation."
The main difference between traditional karate and sport karate, he said, is that traditional has the look of a more 'basic' style.
"It's not," he stressed. "What we do is the same... but different. One is not better than the other. They are just different. I focus more on the traditional and the kata and the technique, and some focus more on the competing aspect of it. Some people will like the stuff I do, some people will not."
Nairn teaches traditional karate using 'small amounts and repetition.'
"Shotokan is probably the most popular style of karate on the planet, and the reason for that, I believe, is the way that they teach it. Because it's based on repetition."
The style, he said, also has benefits outside of karate. In addition to building health and fitness, it improves mental discipline and focus, self confidence and self respect.
"For kids, what you're trying to teach is focus, and trying to focus on 'that one thing.' The idea is that you're increasing your focus time.
"The focus is more on the technique and the perfection of the technique. Karate is called a martial art because it is a fighting system – shotokan is a particular fighting system – and that system is based on defence. The first move in karate is always a block. It's a defensive system, you're never attacking, you're defending. And your first move, a defence, can lead up to an attack.
"Traditional is also based on the ippon system, which is one strike. As in one strike being enough to disable your opponent.
"Shotokan karate is not about strength, it's about generating as much power from your body as possible. It revolves around expansion and contraction and hip rotation, to deliver a kick. It's the perfection of technique.
"Martial arts is built for a small body – it's built on generating power... but it's not about strength. It's not about being big and strong."
They do compete, said Nairn, but use a single-point system, not continuous, multiple-point sparring.
"You are very conservative with your attacks and defenses. Traditional karate is a non-contact sport, whereas 'sport karate' has contact. We spar in a way that we're looking to hit a perfect punch – if a perfect punch has been delivered, then that person could get an 'ippon', a one point, which means they would win that fight."
Nairn and local black belt Andy Horvath created Traditional Karate Ontario, which opened its doors in Tillsonburg on January 13, 2016 with classes for young children, ages 6-9 (the kodomo class) from 6-6:45 p.m., 10-12 from 6:30-7:30 and adults (13-and-older) from 7:30-9 p.m. at Westfield Public School.
Weekly Wednesday night classes are offered in 12-week sessions, and their final session before the summer break, which started May 4th, is eight weeks, concluding June 22.
TKO, a member of the World Traditional Karate Organization, now has 10 students in the kodomo (6-9) class, taught by Nairn and Horvath.
For more information on TKO, contact Nairn at 226-236-1469 or firstname.lastname@example.org by email. Traditional Karate Ontario also has a Facebook page.