Summer Camp 2016 – My Kyokushin Journey
My Kyokushin Journey began before I knew what Kyokushin was. As a child I loved martial arts from the movies and wanted in the worst way to do what Bruce Lee did. My family did not have a lot of money so taking a martial arts class was not a possibility. Instead, I read martial arts books from the public library and learned what I could from them but never getting too far.
I always loved the martial arts and thought what I saw as a child on TV and in the movies was amazing! I loved the mysterious powers and strength they all seemed to possess. I wondered if their power came from their long and flowing beards and moustaches as all the masters in Kung-Fu Theatre seemed to possess them. But alas, that was not in my cards either as my moustache still looks like a comb that is missing most of its teeth and my ‘beard’ could never be what anyone would call flowing with all of its eight hairs.
Fast forward to my adult years and when I started my policing career. As part of my training, Sensei Jim Maloney taught all of us recruits some basics and worked us hard in our physical training. He taught me so much. I loved the self-defense classes that included the P94 baton training. The P94 was a tonfa style expandable baton. I loved learning the basic strikes and some joint lock techniques with the baton. While similar to the tonfa, we stuck to ‘bread and butter’ techniques. (We unfortunately never learned the techniques and never achieved the skill and prowess I have seen demonstrated by Sensei Alex!)
My introduction to Kyokushin came with Sue and me signing our kids up for an introductory karate class through the Langley City’s Rec Center Activity program. After one class, Sensei Leo and Sempai’s Kathy and Ryan had Sue and I off the sidelines and on the training floor. Boy did we sweat. It looked so easy from the sidelines but once on dojo floor my mind-cramp said otherwise! It was so exciting getting my first dogi! White belt or not I finally had a karate gi and felt invincible… until Sempai Ryan showed me I wasn’t… During more than one of our sparring matches, I swear I felt his big toe tickle my spine as he kicked me all the way through me with a chudan mae geri! He made it look so effortless. I wanted to be like him!
Kyokushin became a family affair with Sue and I training alongside our kids. It drew us together as a family and it introduced us to many new friends. With each Kyu test through the years, we learned more and more. We took our training serious and worked hard. Karate became a key part of our lives.
One of the things that I soon noticed was the number of people that started training only to quit after a short period. It was obvious that Kyokushin training demanded a lot out of you both physically and mentally that most people were not ready for. I recall when we started training, we went up to Armstrong to visit family and took the opportunity to train with Shihan Larry at his dojo. After training, I remember telling someone about the training and how much it demanded of you. I remember this person saying how they thought we wouldn’t last. I knew they were wrong.
For our first Summer Camp, we arrived late as I had to work. The only spot left to camp was next to the toilets. I wondered why the real estate there was so reasonable…. I found out…. Training began and we learned so much that camp. At the Sayonara, I first met Sensei Mike and Sempai EJ from Gabriola Island and thought they were so awesome. We made a lot of new friends at that camp and felt even closer to Kyokushin.
This year, Sue and I tested for our Shodan. I have to say it was definitely a stressful experience with most of the stress being self-induced. Compiling all the certificates, first aid, coaching course, concussion awareness and writing the resume before the deadline created a little stress, especially waiting for the marks from the coaching course hoping they would get to us before the deadline!
Winter Camp 2016 brought its own stresses with the exam and interview. No knowing what to expect, we hoped we studied the right things. I was fairly confident with the Board breaking but still nervous. I focused and gave it my all. Fortunately, all went well and Sue and I were on to the technical exam.
In preparation for the technical exam, Sue and I prepared and prepared and prepared… then we prepared some more. I have to say I was never more stressed for an exam as I was for the technical exam. I have to say that Shihan Stuart was so great at trying to put me at ease. He told us that he was our biggest supporter and wanted us to succeed. The exam was exhausting both mentally and physically. My mind melted more than a few times during the next 2 hours. At the end I was so relieved to have that portion of my Shodan testing done. I did the best I could and hoped it was good enough. Shihan Stuart was excellent. He was true to his word (no surprise) and supported me all the way. He took video and photos during my test that he shared with me along with comments including things I could improve on. Now it was on me to make the improvements and show that I was ready for the next and final step – Summer camp.
Summer Camp 2016 was so different for me. My family and I had been to many Summer Camps in the past but only as participants. During previous camps, we watched numerous Dan candidates go through their test and fights. We watched them as they persevered through pain and exhaustion in their fights. We saw some make it through all their fights and some who didn’t. We saw them succeed. We saw them exhausted but we saw them triumph. Now it was our turn… Sue and I trained as best we could for the fights.
During this Summer Camp we learned some excellent Bunkai from Shihan Tats for Seienchin kata. Shihan Tats explained each move of the kata and different bunkai while acknowledging that there more interpretations and techniques aside from the ones he reviewed with us. It was a real eye opener going through the bunkai and I had several “OH!” and “A-HA!” moments as we went through each move of the kata.
The fight class with Shihan Stuart and the introduction of the additional techniques was extremely interesting. With the introduction of the new rules, it will certainly add a new dimension to tournament fighting. In preparation for that, classes this fall should be very interesting while we learn and develop these techniques. Applying the techniques and Zanshin will be fun!
Posture, basic techniques, speed over power, leading with your tanden and Zanshin were some of the primary concepts focused on during this camp. All of these concepts dovetail into one another seamlessly and help to develop your karate when practiced and applied properly.
Sunday was the BIG day. Time for the fights… I managed to keep my stress in check until ½ an hour before the fights. Then it set in… Excited and scared all at once… I was ready…. I WAS READY!! … I had to go to the bathroom… I rushed to the bathroom and it was full… oh boy! Time was up… Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter… When called to the floor by Shihan Stuart my pulse quickened. Sweat started popping on my brow just standing there in anticipation of the fights.
Shihan asked me how many fights I saw myself completing. I answered “Osu, Shihan, 10!” I hoped it was going to be 10… The fights started… Well I thought they started and started to fight with my challenger… Then Shihan Don smacked me on the back and said “I didn’t say start!”… I was so eager to get started but I learned again to LISTEN! With each round that passed I saw myself closer to achieving my goal. With each round, I of course became more fatigued but pushed on. As the 10th fight came, Shihan Don told me “This is it. I don’t want to see you go backwards at all! You must go forward!” I answered with an “Osu Shihan!”
It was the final fight of my 10 man. I was exhausted. My body wanted to quit. I had one more fight. I looked across from me and saw my best friend Sempai Jason standing there with a smile on his face ready to challenge me. He was there to draw my best from me. To challenge my mind, body, and spirit. The time was now for me to persevere. As I drew in a deep breath, I knew that there was more than just me standing there to face this challenge. I had the support and coaching from Sensei Leo who was there to stand beside and me and push me all the way. No one can push me like he can. I had my friend Sempai Neil as my ‘Second’ who gave me great advice on pacing before and during the fights. He gave me encouragement and valuable tips during the fights and brought me back to center during the rest period after the 5th fight. I looked at him for advice before my 8th fight and saw him smile and beam with encouragement and pride as he looked on. I had the cheers from the crowd pushing me on.
The 10th fight began and in that fight, I fought myself more than my opponent. I fought my fear, my fatigue, and doubt. I said to myself “Osu no Seienchin!!!” I knew I was going to persevere! I knew it! I believed it! I pushed forward!
With the final “Yame!” came relief. I DID IT! I later saw a photo taken of my face at that moment – Exhaustion, pain, relief and sheer satisfaction all at once. I DID IT! But I knew it was more than me that got me there. It was with the support of my Shihans, Senseis, Sempais, Kohai, friends and family that pushed me along the way and gave me their love, their friendship and support.
Monday morning came and we woke up and readied ourselves for the final session of the camp. Like the first session, the last one always lived up to the expectations of being a real ‘barn burner’! It was time to ‘clear the mechanism’ and forget the tired aching muscles and bumps and bruises from the weekend. It was time to push hard and demonstrate that Kyokushin Spirit! I never had a dry spot left on my dogi… I had puddles under my feet… Then Shihan Stuart said “Sempai Arthur! You have 20 minutes. MAKE THEM SWEAT!” I think after that 20 minutes that my sweat was sweating! Puddles had grown into lakes. Someone once said that sweat is just fear trying to leave your body, I must have been scared out of my mind! Sempai Arthur was AWESOME! He had us moving and working together challenging and supporting one another. That’s what Kyokushin is to me!
2016 was my Shodan year. A milestone in my life. A time I will always treasure and remember made even more special by achieving it with my wife and best friend Sue!
To my Shihans: Thank you for your patience, your dedication to Kyokushin over these many years that allowed so many along the way to follow in your footsteps on their Kyokushin journey. The sacrifices you and your families have made with your time and energy to make this the best organization in the world can never be repaid (I mean that!) You have my undying gratitude and respect. Thank you!
To my Senseis: Thank you for all your support and patience, especially Sensei Leo. Sensei Leo, your push to make us challenge ourselves and find that next gear or extra reserve of energy when we thought we had no more. For showing us the path and guiding us in our journey. For your understanding and kindness when we needed it. For your no-nonsense approach when we need that as well. Thank you!
To my Sempais, for teaching me and helping me to better my technique. For standing in front of me and leading me and guiding me. For standing across from me to challenge me in my sparring. For showing me where I am open so as to help me better learn to protect myself. For being the embodiment of the Sempai/Kohai relationship that allowed me to flourish. Thank you!
To my Kohai, thank you for being ready to learn and to carry on the Kyokushin way. To help me to be a better person and karateka. For pushing me beyond my comfort zone and helping me to succeed. Thank you!
To Kyokushin, All my thanks. For all that you have taught me about myself. For all that you continue to promise and deliver. Thank you!
SUMMER Camp 2016
Summer Camp 2016 was a very special summer camp for my husband Lance and me as Dan candidates. Shihan Don’s kata class was fantastic where he broke down and practiced the katas Passai Dai and Tekki 3. Shihan Don expressed the importance of visualization of the application of the bunkai of the kata as well as focusing on good posture, kihon technique, speed over power, and proper breathing while applying all with Kyokushin spirit.
Shihan Stuart’s session where he went over the new fight rules for Knockdown tournaments was very interesting. The new tournament rules are very exciting. I am looking forward to learning and applying these new techniques with the application of Zanshin.
During one of the kata classes we took part in, Shihan Tats’ explanation of the bunkai for the Seienchin kata was fascinating moving through each technique, breaking down the ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’ to each move.
All my life since I was a young girl, I always wanted to learn martial arts, never having the opportunity at the time. Life moved along and marriage and kids consumed my years during my 30’s. Then the opportunity presented itself through our children. My husband and I wanted some extra physical activities for our kids so we checked out our local rec center for some good programs. We called around town and we finally found the Langley Kyokushin Dojo. Sensei Leo was so welcoming and gave my husband Lance and I an opportunity to train alongside our kids. The training was hard but the learning was what tied the mind/body/spirit together. I knew it right away that this was very special. I felt so encouraged for me and my family being taught by people who cared about us as well as our learning journey. They all felt like family.
Karate became a major part of our lives. Through the years of training and our dedication to the organization, I felt so blessed to be a part of this Kyokushin family. Karate has taught me so much over the years. Like the kanji that is sewn over our heart, it has shown us truth and revealed a reality that cannot be denied. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Being Dan candidates, Lance and I were so excited and nervous for this camp. Lance and I had trained on our own as much as possible to ready our hearts and minds for the toughest challenge to come. I often think of our Dojo Kun when I am nervous, scared, or injured. Unfortunately all of these things came into play during Saturday’s fitness challenge. I threw my back out and could not finish the challenge. I was so upset at the situation with my back, not sure if I could continue on to complete the rest of the camp and testing. Shihan Stuart, Shihan Brad and Sensei Leo all gave me words of encouragement when I was so sad about the situation. I iced my back throughout the night and thought about my options. I tried not to think about the pain and instead used my mind to focus on my heart and spirit and all the things that karate has taught me; perseverance under pressure, the courage to face my fears, push myself mentally and physically beyond whatever I thought I could do to achieve my goals, and overcoming myself way beyond my own limitations. When I am fatigued, scared, injured, and have doubts, karate has given me more spirit to push through when I feel this way.
Sunday morning came and I had made up my mind to persevere and try to complete the next part of the test. I told myself that I would never quit. During one of the breaks, I asked my friend and mentor Sempai Kathy if she would like to be my ‘Second’ during the 10 man fights. I was so happy that she was there at the beginning of my journey in Kyokushin and now was there to see my dream realized during the final part of my Shodan test. The afternoon went by fast! With the minutes ticking away quickly, the butterflies were building in my stomach with an adrenaline rush hitting me about every 10-15 minutes. Trying to calm my nerves down after each rush of my pulse, many thoughts entered my mind – excitement, fear, joy, but mainly I was concerned about my back injury and if my back would hold up through the tough physical challenge of the 10 man fights. The time finally came for our 10 man. I tried to focus my mind, body, and spirit for the task at hand.
Shihan Stuart asked me how many fights I thought I could complete. “Osu Shihan, 10!” I said, thinking to myself I have trained so hard for this moment and have visualized the 10 man many times but this time it was real. I was ready, determined, and in the moment. I fought to overcome myself more than my opponent and tried not to think about my back injury. I focused on fighting smart and trying to listen to Sensei Leo’s coaching all the way through. Sempai Kathy’s help and encouragement throughout the fights and break and everyone’s good and positive energy helped push me through.
I would like to thank Shihan Stuart and Shihan Don for letting me continue to fight in the 10-man and show my Kyokushin fighting spirit even though I was injured. OSU!
Thank you to Sensei Leo for your knowledge and unwavering support for my family and me and for always pushing us to do our best. OSU!
Thank you to Shihan Stuart and Shihan Brad for helping me when I hurt my back and your kind and encouraging words. OSU!
Thank you Shihan Larry for your time and extra training throughout the years and all your dedication to each and every Summer Camp. OSU!
Thank you Sempai Kathy for always being there for me. It meant so much to me that you were my ‘Second’. Thank you for all your dedication and hard work at every summer camp. OSU!
Thank you Sempai Ryan for teaching me so much throughout the years. I am forever grateful. OSU!
Thank you Sempai Neil for your kind words of support and encouragement. OSU!
Thank you to all who fought me during my 10 man. Your willingness to fight me has made me evolve into a better martial artist. You all brought out the best in me. OSU!
Thank you everyone for supporting me. I am truly grateful.
Summer Camp 2016 Report by Anthony Evangelista
Summer Camp 2016 was a fantastic event from start to finish. Everything from the training, the camaraderie, the Sayonara Party and Kyokushin’s Got Talent was excellent. Of course for me personally, this camp was very special as it was the final component for my Sandan grading. My attitude going in was to learn more about my karate, enjoy every single moment and not to put all my focus and energy only into the Sunday Black Belt fighting. I believe it was that approach that helped me through the fights after grading was complete.
As with all of our events, Summer Camp is an excellent time to re-unite with all the familiar faces from the various dojos and to meet the new members who attend camp for the very first time. From my club, four of my students attended, three of which it was their first camp. Those three were all quite nervous leading up to the first training session, not having a clear idea what camp would be like. I believe that first class set the tone for them, in a very positive way. At the end of first training, one of them, Tricia Wallace, was recognized as the hardest working student for that class and received the prized ‘Camo Belt’ for her efforts; definitely a proud moment for our group.
Out of all of the Summer Camps I have attended, this was the first in which we had the privilege to have all six of our own Shihan in attendance: Shihan Stuart, Shihan Don, Shihan Terry, Shihan Larry, Shihan Brad and Shihan Tats. It was an honour to have had the opportunity to learn and train with them all weekend. OSU!
This year, the IKO introduced new rules for tournament fighting. Some of the rules were introduced at Summer Camp and one of the highlighted techniques that we worked on was Anshan. In one of our meetings, Shihan Tats wrote the kanji characters for Zanshin and gave their translated meanings. He explained Zan means ‘remaining’, while Shin mean ‘heart’; therefore Zanshin = Remaining Heart. That definition has been very helpful as it has given more meaning to the technique for me. It is interesting to note that Zanshin is being re-introduced and is not a ‘new’ technique. Shihan Stuart and Shihan Don will both tell you that Zanshin was taught and used in their competitive days. As the saying goes, ‘what’s old is new again.’
To coincide with the regular karate classes, everyone participated in the fitness challenge each day and a Sunday morning yoga class co-led by Sensei Steve and myself. For the fitness challenge, I supervised the 50+ Men and saw members put up some pretty high numbers both days. It was very encouraging to see people try their best in the fitness challenge. The yoga class was fun to teach and the response from everyone was positive. It is great to know that more members are incorporating other fitness elements, such as yoga, to go along with their regular karate practice.
Of course a major tradition and highlight of Summer Camp is water training. This year, Shihan Terry immersed us with the depth of his knowledge and the pool of moves he taught flowed from one to another. Simply put, we all got wet. It was great fun and well worth it. OSU!
Sunday 1pm comes real fast when you are part of the Dan Grading Candidates. This year ten of us made it to the final stage at Summer Camp. Eight grading for shodan, two grading for sandan. You become close to the other candidates because you share similar emotions and nerves throughout the weekend. As I did in my previous two Dan grading’s, the last hour before the fights I reserve for myself, to be with my thoughts. It is a time for me to reflect on how I came to this point in my training, all the people who have helped me along the way, and that no matter the outcome, I will give everything I have when called upon.
Before setting foot into the hall, I remember passing through a gauntlet of love and support from everyone at camp who would be spectating or fighting. That was very encouraging. Once in the hall, it is easy to get riled up from the energy everyone brings inside. I could feel myself succumbing to that energy initially. One person that helped me calm down was Sensei Dean. I remember as I paced on my spot, Sensei looking over at me, gesturing with his hands and quietly saying, “calm down.” I acknowledged him, and thought, he’s right, calm down, and I did. Thank you Sensei Dean for your advice…OSU!
Before you know it Shihan Stuart has everyone in order and begins asking each of us Dan candidates how many fights we will attempt. At my turn, I emphatically replied, “30 Shihan!” and received a roar of ooo’s and aah’s from the crowd. Soon after we are separated into smaller groups and the fighting begins. My first 10 fights went by fast and my cardio was tested. I believe a description I received from a few of my supporters said I looked like I was gasping for air, and I probably was.
In fights 11 to 19, I felt I was able to settle into a better rhythm. But after fight 20, I contemplated stopping. My 20th fight was with Sempai Michi. He tested me good and once ‘Yame!’ was called I felt I had nothing left. When Sempai Michi shook my hands, he said to me, “Don’t give up Sempai! Don’t give up!” That seemed to re-ignite me. Arigato gozaimasu Sempai Michi for the fight and the supportive words…OSU!
The first 20 fights were hard, the last 10 fights were even harder. I remember telling myself to take each match one-by-one and not worry about which round I was at; just focus on the moment. I could hear and feel the support from everyone in the hall. I remember Shihan Don constantly pushing me and telling me to move forward and fight…OSU! I remember Shihan Stuart approaching me at one point telling me to move forward….OSU! Those last ten fights were as much mentally challenging as they were physically. My last fight was with Sensei Laszlo and in that final round, I forced myself to push forward and attack as much as I could. When it was over I remember the feeling of collapsing and Sensei Laszlo holding me telling me I did it. Thank you Sensei Laszlo for being there to pick me up when it was all said and done…OSU! Even as I write this report, I am still in awe that I completed a 30-man kumite.
After the grading, the celebrations began with the Dan Candidates’ class, the Sayonara Party, Kyokushin’s Got Talent and the dance. As always, great fun with everyone there. Special thanks and recognition to Shihan Larry, Sempai Kathy and the rest of the cooking crew who made the Summer Camp Sayonara Dinner one of THE BEST meals period! OSU!
As tradition for Kyokushin’s Got Talent, the Dan Candidates are requested to perform an act. I had planned for this and decided I would fulfill a promise I made with Sensei Les Neilsen in 2009. At Summer Camp 2009, the Sayonara Party had a Mexican theme and members were encouraged to dress in their best Mexican costume. I came as a Kyokushin Mariachi Player. Sensei Les came as the cowboy from the old Clint Eastwood western movies. I ended up winning best costume over Sensei Les. He was not fond of that result and wanted to take me outside to sort it out (jokingly of course). Later on he said that we should both wear our costumes again at a future camp no matter what the theme was, and I agreed. Unfortunately, with his untimely passing, we were never able to make that deal happen. So, I planned that if I received my Sandan, I would wear my Kyokushin Mariachi costume one more time in honour and recognition of Sensei Les…and I did. With the help of the other Dan Candidates, we turned our performance into a crowd sing-a-long of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. It was a lot of fun to get the audience involved and I was very honoured to take a moment to remember Sensei Les. OSU!
In closing, I would like to take the opportunity to give congratulations to Sensei Mike Richards, Sempai Jenny, Sempai Jack, Sempai Ana, Sempai Lance, Sempai Sue, Sempai Tyler, Sempai Alexey, and Sempai Al for passing your test; well done! OSU!
To Shihan Terry, Shihan Larry, Shihan Brad, Shihan Tats, Sensei Leo, Sensei Dean, Sensei Laszlo, Sensei Mike Sanford, Sensei Greg, Sensei Alex, Sensei Irek, and Sensei Steve: Thank you for your instruction over camp weekend! The knowledge and energy each of you shares is what makes Summer Camp a pleasure to attend. I am very proud to have been included on the instructional team with all of you! OSU!
Special thank you to Sempai Arthur and Sempai Baki for all the work they put into helping me prepare for my Sandan testing. You guys are the best. You can count on me when it’s your turn! OSU! Also thank you to all the members who came out to our fight training classes to help prepare me for the fights. I truly appreciate the time you gave to help me. OSU!
Finally a huge thank you to Shihan Stuart and Shihan Don to have given me the opportunity to grade for Sandan, and promote me to Sandan. Thank you both for all your support and teachings, and for all the work you do for our organization. OSU!
Ana Feher- Shodan Journey
I would like to start by thanking my husband and son for all their support.
My shodan journey started many years ago in Romania. Before I joined a local kyokushin dojo in 2008 my husband asked me if I knew my limits, as I was constantly complaining of my abilities especially while hiking in the mountains with a large backpack on top! He said that I will have to find my limits and only then I will discover how many things I could do, with only one finger let’s say.
Since then I am constantly in search of my limits, which I haven’t found- not even after the 10 Men kumite.
Last year after my first international kata tournament I took the decision to get a different approach to training kata. This includes a few techniques I learned from a Romanian sensei; training kata with weights; spending a lot of time in the gym, building up muscle- to get the crispness of the technique, and also getting inspired from a few Japanese kata competitors Sempai Michi told me about.
January represented a huge success for me, by sending the shodan application letter to Shihan Stuart and being successful at the USWC Los Angeles. This gave me the courage to look ahead and trust that I could be one of the new shodans in western Canada. While being so enthusiastic an accident happened in the dojo and I broke my foot. Lucky enough my surgeon spared me of having a plate in the foot, but wearing the cast for 3 months.
Making it even harder for myself, I signed up for All American- it’s my year I said! The experience in New York just opened new opportunities and levels never achieved by me before. I was happy to break my personal boundaries and move towards new limits.
The shodan journey ended up with the technical exam- which meant once again that nothing is perfect but working towards your goals just show your new possibilities and it’s a way of self discovery and the summer camp. I had left over the board breaking, which was the most stressful for me as I had a mental block; I am taking this opportunity to thank Sempai Terry, Sempai Sherry and Sensei Anthony for their support. I was happily surprised that the 10 men fights were good for me- as I didn’t practice any fighting this year due to my injury- but I am saying this honestly, that having years of fighting in completions showed up! Plus the weight training and the hours on the rowing machine! I felt very good after the 10 fights, with minor bruising.
Now I am getting ready for the next tournaments, in Canada and US.
Again, I would like to thank everyone in my life that had an influence, no matter how small!
Summer Camp Report
This Summer camp was my ninth one. In 2005 I came here after just two dojo trainings and was overwhelmed with novelty and amount of Martial Art techniques in Kyokushin ( before I trained Tae-Kwon-Do for 18 months). It mostly flew over my head. All I learned for sure was counting to ten.
This camp was special again. From previous camps I knew that Dan candidates is a very busy group who does a lot of extra stuff. I also came with a few “tails” from my technical test. Ana and myself were the last two tested ones and we had only two weeks to make corrections. So I was a little nervous.
Friday training was as usual a busy and intensive indoors. Ido Gekko rose again from a feasible to confusing one. Knows techniques in unusual sequence require constant correction and thinking. That was actually a motto for all trainings – THINK! As I understand it now in Ido Gekko thinking means memorizing all transition moves from certain punch to a certain block or a step. Those transient moves are techniques of their own and have to be figured out one by one and properly applied.
Saturday session with Dan candidates was the last one and I went through the day waiting for it. Of course I took Kikhon kumite class with Shihan Don to roll in the grass for a bit. Some stuff ( #1 and #3) I remembered from Winter Camp and now added #2 and #4 (this one is the most difficult of all eight). On the next training I took Seienchin kata class with Shihan Tats and learned numerous kumite and kuzushi situations standing behind each move in this beautiful and complex kata and giving it multiple dimensions.
And finally came Dan candidate class. We – all ten of us stood before three Shihans and one after another demonstrated technical improvements since the test. I personally was not called but some questions applied to me as well, so I could compare other people’s answers to what I have prepared. At the end Ana did her Tameshawari and this time she was successful! Good girl!
The next day was the culmination – Belt fights. In our dojo I went three time through ten kumite with our folk. Sensei Irek started with 90 second fights and last training sessions with 2 min fighting and 30 sec rest. Here I had only one minute per fight but most opponents were black belts! Yes, with them it was much more intense. But I made it to the end because I worked out how to spare myself (and because they maybe were not very hard on me).
So I was finally belted by Shihan Stuart himself. How many times before I looked on happy faces of Dan receivers and promised myself to keep a poko-face at that moment – but I couldn’t… It is so overwhelming!
This camp I will remember as vividly as my first one. My Kyokushin journey through eleven years of training brought me here and it doesn’t stop. I still think that I need extra effort for at least a year to establish myself on that level and then to move on.
The Ultimate Kyokushin Experience
The 2016 IKOKC Summer Camp Report
August 5, 2016
The 2016 IKOKC Summer Camp was one of the most amazing experiences that I have had in my Kyokushin career. Actually, it might be the best experience in my 33 years of life, period.
Being a city boy, camping has always been something that I dread. It is mind blowing how IKOKC is able to keep the camp so clean and organized such that I pulled through comfortably. And of course, thanks to my fiancé for preparing food and providing a cozy environment for me. Everyone was very responsible and we all made sure not to make a mess. This truly shows how mature the organization is under the leadership of Shihan Stuart. I am very proud to be part of it.
I moved to San Francisco Bay Area last May in 2015 to pursue my dream of being an Electrical Engineer in the semiconductor industry. It was a difficult decision because I left my home, my friends, family, fiancé, and Kyokushin Karate Dojo. Back in 2003, I walked into Shihan Tats’ downtown dojo, fell in love with Kyokushin Karate, and never looked back. I have always dreamed to become a Kyokushin Black Belt, but this career move seemed to crush my dream at the time.
Shihan Tats asked me to keep training and send him my training journal every week. It’s very hard to train alone on top of my crazy work schedule. My training was affected but I kept going. The training quality is nowhere near before, but I try my best to keep myself in shape and practice Kata, Idogeiko, fight techniques, etc.
About half a year into my relocation, on December 2, 2015, I received an e-mail from Shihan Tats. He said, “if you are thinking of Shodan testing, don’t think. You have to be prepared and determined. If not, please discard this e-mail.” From then on, I decided to focus on the path to become a Kyokushin Shodan, and be very serious about it. I studied everything on-line, from Japanese terminology, Kyokushin knowledge, all the advanced katas, and Idogeikos. Sempai Mark Berg helped me out tremendously via e-mail communications. Every time I have a question, he always responded promptly. Ever since 2012, we trained together under Shihan Tats for international tournaments; Sempai Mark has been nothing but a good friend to me. With his help, I was able to pass my technical on May 29, 2016.
On the first day of Summer Camp, with the company of my fiancé, Joyce, and Mark, we carpooled together and headed to Ashton Creek. Through the beautiful mountainous road, I realized how much I’ve missed BC. The training at the summer camp was jam-packed. I was very glad to learn about the concept of Zen-shin, and also Bassai Dai from Shihan Don and Sensei Dean. It’s all about learning new knowledge to become a better martial artist.
By the end of the second day, my body was quite sore already. Then the 3rd day rolls around, it was time for my 10-men fights. Prior to the event, I did not know what to expect, but I knew it would be very tough. The 10-men kumite, in my opinion, is the Ultimate Kyokushin Experience. As soon as the 1st fight started, my opponent immediately got in close distance and threw hard techniques. Being a previous tournament fighter, my instinct kicked in and I fought back hard. I felt rusty because I haven’t had much sparring practice. By the 4th fight, I was exhausted. Then Sempai Shawn threw a beautiful Mae Geri that hurt me badly, but I kept my composure and poker face to recover through the round. Shihan Stuart and Shihan Don kept telling me to fight back, otherwise they will stop the whole thing. I tried my best fighting back until the end of 5th fight where I got a 1-minute break.
Fast forward to the 8th fight, I faced Sensei Alex, who I used to train with at the Richmond East Dojo. Although he may look like a big intimidating guy, he’s actually one of the nicest people I know. He showed his kindness during the fight so I get a moment to breathe. At the same time, he adjusted his pace so that he also pushed me hard. I’ve always loved to learn from him in the past, and one of my favorite techniques – Kakato otoshi geri into Chudan yoko geri, was learnt from him.
My 9th fight was Sempai Michi who coached/helped me when I first started participating in tournaments. I look up to him and have so much respect to him. He didn’t let me down and he attacked me with full power punches and kicks. The only thing that kept me standing was my spirit; I just did Kiai after Kiai as I took his variety of strikes.
My final fight was of course Sempai Mark, he pushed me to my limit and gave me a great fight. At the end of the 10th round, I was very emotional and I could barely stand. All the old Karate memory rushed into my brain – first day stepping into Shihan Tats’ dojo -> decided to quit for a while because it was too physically draining -> came back and trained extremely serious for international tournaments -> got selected and fought in the 5th Kyokushin World Weight Category representing Canada -> Snapped my forearm during the preparation to All American Open -> back injury eventually became unbearable -> retire from fighting -> Shihan Tats’ encouraging me to take my black belt exam. Obtaining this black belt, for me, the path was extremely bumpy, but it really just made the experience so much more rewarding and amazing. I loved every second of it. This is how Kyokushin supposed to be – to persevere and succeed, no matter how difficult it is.
I would like to thank Shihan Stuart for allowing me to take the Shodan exam even though I am not physically in Canada. Also, I want to thank all the other Shihans, Senseis, Sempais, and everyone else in IKOKC to make such a wonderful event possible. This time around I got to meet and greet more friendly, passionate, and supportive Kyokushin Karatekas. I definitely look forward to training with everyone in the near future.
Summer Camp 2016 – Tyler Kopp
On the Friday night camp started strong as always with Kihon, which was led by Shihan Tats and Ido Geiko led by Shihan Don. It was the hottest weather of the whole weekend and everyone worked up a good sweat in the introductory class of the camp.
Saturday morning started with the well-loved run at 6:00 am that allowed us to bear witness to some of the beautiful scenery of the North Okanagan. The view always inspires me to train as hard as I can in the coming classes because of the sheer calm and serenity of the early morning trail. After the run the rest of the day past in a blur, with the main highlight for me being the introduction of the new kumite rules. They add a new dynamic to Kyokushin tournament fighting while preserving the old and familiar rules. I feel that once they have been adopted nationwide and practiced enough that they can be properly utilized, they will add a more interesting ebb and flow to the fights for both competitor and spectator.
In the last training session of the Saturday the Dan candidates were called in for a special training during which I completed the board breaking component that I had failed at winter camp. This time around I felt much better prepared, and completing this component relieved much of the pressure that I was feeling going into this camp.
Sunday morning treated all of us to another run, which ended this time with some much needed stretching in the form of yoga led by Sensei Steve and Sensei Anthony. The class had its differences from traditional yoga but still managed to leave me feeling much more limber and less stiff. Later that day an officiating clinic which was held, which was very informative in describing how the new rules for kumite will be implemented from an official’s standpoint. We did not spend a great deal of time on them but I hope that in the future there will be more opportunities to go into further detail of how to judge/referee these new aspects.
Thus came the final hurdle of Dan candidacy, the fighting. For most it was a 10 man kumite, but for Sensei Anthony, he did a full 30 man kumite, which was very inspirational to watch. The energy in the hall as always was electrifying and intense as always, but it was a very different experience for me to be fighting on the other side of the line. Since my technical examination preparation for the fights had been my main concern when planning my physical activity. Everyone did a fantastic job this year and it was a very humbling and wonderful experience to be able to share this journey with all of the other Dan candidates. Standing in the lineup with a freshly tied Shodan around my waist was almost surreal, to have a goal which you spend such a long time working towards finally being realized is an indescribable experience.
The final class of the camp which was highlighted by Sempai Arthur’s brutal calisthenics was difficult but invigorating. It felt in that room that everyone was living up to Shihan Brad’s comment at the beginning of camp to train harder in every class during the weekend. Even though everyone was tired from a weekend of hard training, they all gave it their best effort to keep up with the fast pace that Sempai Arthur set.
As a final note I would like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way in my journey towards Shodan, and I look forward to continuing within the Kyokushin karate organization for many years to come.
Summer Camp 2016
The end of a journey, or a stop along the way?
Twenty years ago I graded to Nidan in Australia. A year later after some surgery that went sideways, I managed to damage myself enough through my other love, climbing, that the sports medicine folks told me I should never train karate or climb again. As fate would have it we were moving to Canada and I had already handed over the reigns of my dojo to my senior students. So move we did but I could barely walk and used a cane for two years. Though intensive physiotherapy, acupuncture and self inflicted rehabilitation I was able to train to a minimal degree but for the next eight years dojo training was not an option so I focused more on sailing but keep my sights set on returning to proper training.
After returning from a trip to Mexico our seven year old son announced he wanted to learn karate, from us. So, very slowly at first we started doing classes with him and his friend, then with his friend’s family and then another family. The group grew and with it my confidence that I could return to somewhat proper training. We formally joined and were very welcomed into the IKOKC and as my confidence grew I knew I needed to set goals for the club. One of which was to grade to Sandan despite my continuing injuries.
As I slowly worked toward submitting my Sandan application, life threw another curve ball my way in 2012 in the form of a cardiac arrest in the dojo. Calcium treatment for my other injuries was the contributing factor. My heart stopped for about ten minutes and our students and EJ kept me going with CPR until I was zapped back with an AED.
My heart was quite badly damaged at first and not surprisingly the medical fraternity again told me serious training was not an option in my future. However, I again needed some goals for rehabilitation and decided even if I could never get to the stage of actually undertaking a Sandan grading at least it gave me something to work toward. So over the following two and a half years I worked towards getting ready and actually started the process in 2015 only to have my old injuries come back to haunt me. Now in 2106, having completed the other extensive requirements of the Dan grading process, I was at summer camp about to undertake the final components.
Summer camp at any time is an amazing experience. Being pushed, and pushing yourself, physically and mentally to become better karateka. The fantastic friendly family environment along with very knowledgeable and skilled instructors in a beautiful setting all make for wonderful memories and accelerated karate growth. Usually I am soaking up every detail of the camp and the variety of lessons available. This year however, I was more focused on getting my mind and body through the whole camp. In the last couple of months beforehand a couple of setbacks with my injuries had me wondering if I could get through it. Despite that I still managed to pick up some amazing information and realize new ways of looking at some aspects of our art. There is always so much to learn and so far to grow with Kyokushin. That’s one of the things that makes it such a meaningful part of life.
The cumulation of the Dan grading process at the Sunday afternoon kumite is always a powerful experience, never so much as when you are in it I found out. While concerned about my injuries I was quietly confident I could prevail and in the final minutes leading up to my turn on the floor a sense of calm and determination came over me. However a very strange thing occurred as I stepped up for my fights. I was suddenly transported back to the night of my cardiac arrest and lying on the dojo floor with a stopped heart. My eyes began to water and what became overwhelmingly apparent was the fact that getting to fight for my Sandan grade was not just the end of a twenty year struggle or an even greater four year one. It strangely did not matter whether I got though or not, what mattered was that I had got there.
It was a significant moment in time for sure but it was part of a much greater journey, one that has been filled with support. The support of EJ and Lindsay, of my friends and family, of my fellow karate students, of my Sempais, Senseis and Shihans. I thank you all for your support in easy times and in hard. While I am the one who was awarded my Sandan grade it also belongs to all those who have been so supportive and encouraging. Thank you. OSU!
Gabriola Island Kyokushin Karate
Summer Camp 2016
My thoughts and reflections of the weekend
I was asked by a co-worker on Tuesday morning how my long weekend was and did I enjoy my camping trip? Over the years I have learned that trying to tell someone about summer camp who has never trained Kyokushin Karate is almost impossible. To tell them that you drove for 7 hours to get to a place that a 118 other people did the same; to explain that you trained from sun up to sun down for two full days, and really enjoyed every minute: they’d look at you like there might be something wrong with your head. So now I say to them: “Really great weekend. It was nice to get away.”
My perspective on the weekend was different than past years as I was in the last part of my Dan testing this year. This was going to be the last part of a 12 month journey. Last year at Summer Camp I had a long discussion with Shihan Don about what I would need to do to be successful if I was to apply to test for my Black Belt. This camp would be the end of the journey. After a few days of rest from camp I realize that the weekend was only a chapter in a longer life journey. I have a much better appreciation for the meaning of Shodan – First Dan (Beginner’s Grade, “Return to the Start of learning”). A sempai of mine from Armstrong said, now I can practice all of the things I didn’t know. That makes more sense now.
Summer Camp is as it is advertised in the Hand Book. We start training on Friday night, spirited warm up, Kihon, Ido Geiko, setting the tone for the rest of camp, reinforcing the building blocks of training Kihon to Ippon Kumite.
Saturday, up for the run at 6 am (nice time to connect with people you may not have seen for a year), followed by Kihon / Ido Geiko, then a break for some food. Fitness challenge, reminder to do more sit ups before Summer Camp, followed by the 10:30 am class, Kihon Kumite, always insight on how to improve on them.
An important event happened at Summer Camp that is often not attended was the AGM. If you really want to know what is happening in the organization, you need to make the effort to attend.
4:00 pm classes, Kata, always great to train with other Shihans, little gems that make your Kata better, water training, just need to be part of that.
8:00 pm class Dan candidates training this year, have to be there to know what happens in the big steel building, really good training.
Sunday morning 6:00 am run, 6:45 Yoga in the field, work sun, full body stretch, food time, 8:30 Fight Class new IKO Rules, Kata in the field, followed by fitness Challenge, 1:00 pm Black Belt Fighting.
First time in this: I can tell you the full circle of thought goes through your head. You go from “I got this” to “I wonder if I can get my truck out of the parking area”. Once the event starts the hall fills with energy that can give you goose bumps, then it’s your turn. Now they tell you, you have 2 minutes of rest; you are half way there. Then a moment later it’s over. At that moment you realize that you made it. This goal was obtained. The emotions are overwhelming. Next, they are saying “Well done”. At that moment, you know that without help from others who are willing to give up their time you wouldn’t have been successful. You do the work, the team pulls you along.
Next is food, the Sayonara BBQ. The food is awesome. Kyokushin family is awesome.
Monday morning 8:30 am training, Kihon, Ido Geiko, remember Shihans need us to motivate them, not the other way around. Another Summer Camp is over.
See you all next year. OSU,
Kyokushin Karate Summer Camp 2016
The preparation for summer camp was ongoing and the learning continued right through the August long weekend. The entire way up to Enderby this year was refreshing myself over all the techniques, katas, and terminology. Reviewing everything that I knew I would have to have the thorough knowledge of, but also keeping an open mind about everything at the same time as I knew at these seminars we learn knew things or variations. Through my 18 years of training, the summer camp of 2016 will remain as one of the most trying and informative seminars by far. At every Kyokushin camp I have always learned something new. This year was not only about my Shodan test, I was able to go through this experience with many of my friends and family’s support. Testing for a higher level is never easy, through my years of testing and training I’ve always learned something new I need to improve on. Constantly attending as many of the camps, seminars, trainings and conferences as I can always demonstrates just how much more there is to learn and how much harder I will have to work. Out of any camps I have attended, the Kyokushin Summer Camp will always be my favourite weekend for trainings. This year as a dan candidate, the camp gave me a different viewpoint of all the techniques, combinations and rules that were taught. For example, throughout the fighting classes that demonstrated zanshin, the remaining heart, I not only took at the information as a fighter myself, but I also thought about ways to instruct to students at our home dojo. I benefited from learning all this new information and I also gain more knowledge that I can teach to our students. When learning something new, I appreciate the repetitive drills. This gives myself and others the chance to perfect each hand technique, stance and movement. When we drilled combinations and practiced zanshin, this allowed me to gain the muscle memory and open my mind to something new that competitors may be using in the future. Also, being a judge, I gathered many questions in regards to everything encircling the implementation of zanshin. In classes where we were given the opportunity to break down kata’s and ask for clarifications, I found to be very helpful. In regards to katas, I find that I have always many questions in regards to changes over the years and the practical applications of the many techniques. What I also would like clarification of, is how and why many katas are being subject to change. Constantly throughout the many trainings, I always have many questions. Participating in the various classes that are available to everyone is always a privilege to be learning from amazing instructors team that always brings new things to these classes. After my ten-men kumite, I looked forward to having a few minutes of instructing time for myself as well. After each class, feeling like I am able to take new things away is a feeling I would like to share as a future instructor. After all the extensive training sessions I can never wait to return home to share all the new experiences with the dojo. I look forward to future Summer Camps and for the next experience of my Nidan testing.