Winter Camp 2015
Upon hearing the dates for winter camp and the realization that they coincided perfectly with spring break, I knew that planning lessons and cleaning my classroom would be left behind I would assume the role as student rather than teacher. I could not, would not let this opportunity pass! (Thank fully my family didn’t object either!) If was going to be anything like summer camp I knew I would be in for hard training, excellent teaching, and great company! I was not to be disappointed on any count.
Having never been to the Kelowna area I arrived much too early Friday. My initial impressions of the camp at Silver Lake took me back to summer camp as a child and the excitement began to build. The quaint lake, large mess hall, and rustic log cabins made me feel like a kid again.
The excitement continued to grow as fellow students and instructors began to arrive and the mess hall was transformed into our training hall, bunks were selected in the cabins, old friends called out excited greetings followed quickly with a hug, and new friends were in abundance. Once all were settled, the dogi’s came out and the sweat began to pour.
The energy that filled that training room was, for me, electric. For the next day and a half I was challenged, encouraged, and inspired. Having row upon row of Sempais, Senseis, and Shihan Stuart in front of me the challenged me to push harder. The individual feedback as we worked though the kihon kumite’s gave me food for thought, and watching the calibre of students around me inspired me to train harder. The highlight for me was witnessing the dan candidate’s board breaking. The anticipation in the hall was palpable. Their poise and confidence as they executed their plan for meeting this requirement and adjusting as the situations demanded was inspiring.
The overarching messages of don’t be satisfied with being able to get from A-Z with no thought to what happens in the middle and standardization of a curriculum resonated with me as a teacher and a student. I look forward to taking my training to a new level as I aim to strengthen my knowledge of the techniques I have learned in the past and the application of them to new ones yet to be acquired.
From gathering in the chilly morning air to train outside to gathering together to eat and visit with old and new friends alike, winter camp for me was an experience like none other and one that I hope to repeat as often as I can in the future.
Arigato to all the instructors for their wisdom and sharing of your skills. Arigato to all who came to train and helped make my first winter camp amazing.
Dawson Creek Kyokushin Karate Dojo
The annual IKOKC Winter Camp was once again held at the beautiful Silver Lake Forestry Center near Peachland, BC on the weekend of March 20th to 22nd. The camp is always a highlight in the organization’s yearly schedule, and for myself and 9 other Dan candidates acts as the first step in our testing process. This year I was very fortunate to have my wife Leeann and friend Isabelle, both students from the Calgary dojo accompany me to both support my efforts and learn as much as possible over the 3 days of camp. We thankfully had a very easy trip to camp, arriving around 4pm local time to check-in and grab a cabin spot before first training at 6pm.
As is a tradition at most every camp I’ve been to, the first training always sets the tone for the camp with an intense and high spirited workout. And this year was no different, with our warm-up consisting of several hundred kicks and squats during kihon! “Osu no seichin” was running through my head during this, and it would continue to throughout the weekend. Everyone came prepared to sweat and learn, and we definitely started the camp on a great note. Shortly after the warm-up we broke into groups and began to delve into the underlying theme of the weekend, by getting back to proper basics with some brain teasing ido geko. Shihan Stuart emphasized on several occasions throughout the weekend that having solid basic techniques are crucial to us being able to both teach and progress in of karate practice, and this first class set the groundwork for doing just that over the course of our 6 training sessions.
You can’t have a winter camp however without the famous meals that are served, so once of first session was done we gathered as a collective to tear down all the mats in the hall and set-up for dinner. It was inspiring to see the level of cooperation displayed as everyone pitched in to get the hall ready, and once we were done we all got to sit down and enjoy a delicious spaghetti meal while reflecting on what we had just done and pondering about what was to come. Then it was tear down time, with everyone eager to clean up and settle in for some sleep before the 6am training session the next morning.
Before we knew it, the first alarm was ringing in the cabin. A 5am wake-up isn’t the most pleasant way to start a Saturday, but the training we were about to do over the next 3 session would more than make up for that. We started as we traditionally do with an outdoor warm-up, but unlike past years we were unable to do this on the lake thanks to the incredibly mild winter the Okanagan region has had this year. Thankfully there were still patches of snow in the trees, and Shihan was able to find a great location for us to train. After warm-up we headed back to the hall to continue focusing on refining our movements, and were then introduced to our first look at kihon kumite. Many of the members who have been in the organization for a lengthy period had seen kihon kumite before, but for the majority of us this was new and exciting! We were exposed to 5 of the 8 sets throughout the weekend, and I personally did all I could to soak in as much of it as possible. After training, it was breakfast time, followed by a short break and another training session. We were then introduced to the new self-defence portion of the grading syllabus for 8th kyu, which I found very helpful as both a refresher on techniques I’ve learned and also eye opening as a way of showing us all how much better these techniques could be executed. We then proceeded with lunch, a short break, and then the highlight of the weekend for me personally.
Tameshiwari! As a Dan candidate, one of the requirements during testing is to do board breaking, with a set number of boards to break and techniques allowed given to each individual based on a pre-determined criteria. I was given 7 boards with 4 techniques that I could use to accomplish this task. It’s a fantastic feeling to draw on the spirit in the room during this part of the testing, with those in attendance sending out positive energy and cheering loudly after every attempt! And thanks to the support of those watching I was able to successfully complete this challenge, and helped cheer on my fellow candidates in their attempts with shouts of encouragement and exuberant applause. And although most of us were successful, there was no doubt in any of our minds that those who ran into a slight snag will be triumphant come summer camp!!
Once the excitement of the board breaking was done, we took group photos and then finished the day with another informative training. We followed that by dinner and certificate presentations to 3 individuals who had in previous years had successfully graded for their own Black Belts. Then it was time to get my mind ready, as myself and my fellow candidates needed to prepare for our upcoming interviews and written exams. One by one we interviewed, then as a collective we gathered in the basement for our written tests. And then, off to bed, as 6am comes early!!
Sunday began very much like Saturday had, with a spirited outdoor warm-up followed by review in the hall. We covered off the kihon kumite we had done up to this point, and threw in some yoga and kata into the mix. We then had our last breakfast of the camp, and then began the process of cleaning up before one last high-energy training session to finish off camp as strongly as we started. It’s thanks to camps like this that we as a community and as individual karate-ka grow and develop. And it’s especially thanks to the efforts of Shihan Stuart and all the Senseis who help teach at these camps that we get these opportunities. So I’d like to thank Shihan Stuart and all of the camp instructors for an amazing weekend of learning and growing. A nod also needs to be made towards the staff of Silver Lake for providing incredible meals to help keep us all going over the 3 days. Special thanks needs to go to my wife Leeann and my friend Isabelle for joining me on this stage of the journey, and also to all those who participated with me in this camp and who cheered me from home. Your support makes it happen. And finally to my fellow candidates: we made it through the first part and we’re stronger for it. Good luck to you all on your technical portion and I look forward to finishing this journey with you all at summer camp. “Osu no seichin”.
Winter Camp 2015
When we registered for the IKOKC Winter Camp at Silver Lake Forestry camp near Peachland, it seemed like such a long time away. Almost unsuspectingly we found it was upon us, as was indicated by the 0430 rise to get the first ferry off our little island. After a pleasant drive from Horseshoe Bay, the extremely dense fog on the final leg from Merritt to Peachland hid the delights that awaited us.
We were lulled in to a false sense of security by all the friendly faces and warm welcomes and remembered why it is so wonderful to come to these events. A rest in the cosy, rustic log cabins preceded a training session that definitely woke us up and got us fired up for the weekend to come. Sweat poured off everyone as we got used to the matted training surface. By the time we were done new friendships were forged and old ones rekindled in the fire of hard training. My dogi from that Friday training session was still wet Sunday morning when I put it on again.
The training sessions drew us back in to the essence of basics with different stances and combinations making our minds work overtime and our bodies trying to catch up. Working on the different kihon kumites and goshin jitsu from the forthcoming syllabus was, I thought, extremely interesting as Shihan Stuart endeavoured to help us standardize all the different ways we were executing these actions. While the snow was limited this year the senior instructors did manage to find a good patch for our morning training sessions and a healthy sweat was still produced despite the relative cool.
Dan candidate board breaking was full of action and drama with spectacular breaks and the dull thud of several initial non- breaks. Challenges were set and most were overcome. The strong spirit that was displayed and the support from all the other karateka reinforced what a great organization we belong to and what a special pursuit we are following. The Saturday evening with Dan candidate interviews and exams was really interesting for me as it was my first time with the IKOKC. Beyond the interviews and exams I found the time spent with the other candidates really rewarding and inspiring especially hearing about parts of their individual journeys along the martial way.
The food, as always, was terrific and plentiful and the stories around the dining tables caused many eruptions of laughter. As I commented to EJ, when we were not focussed on serious training everyone always seemed to be smiling or laughing. While Kyokushin may be hard and extremely challenging it is going to these events that help show us just how rewarding it can be. Oh, and the really good news is my foot is not broken.
Gabriola Island Dojo