Winter Camp 2016 Gardom Lake was a fantastic experience with exceptional teaching guidance and support. This is my husband Lance and my third Winter Camp. It is also a very special one being that my husband Lance and I are Shodan candidates this year. The new camp location was awesome and very convenient. I liked everything from the training hall, the kitchen, the barracks; all were comfortable, roomy and convenient, especially the training hall. The Gardum Lake camp staff were friendly and helpful.
During this camp, Shihan Don wanted all of us to warm up with cardio and calisthenics to ensure we were all warm before fully stretching to prevent injury. Shihan Don talked about five main things that makes a good karate student:
Shihan Don talked about our stances and how important it was to connect with our tandan and how our knees acted as shock absorbers, and to always strive to have good posture with quick feet. During a question and answer period after breakfast, a very good question was asked. “How do you keep the quality of your technique maintained as you start to fatigue?” Shihan Don talked about all aspects of breath control using Ibuki through Nagore one and two, and Enshin and how proper breath control is key to fighting fatigue as they are always connected and never separate and that one is connected to the other like a chain.
Saturday morning training was invigorating and refreshed the spirit. Sensei Laszlo had us warming up using calisthenics and footwork drills. We worked on various drills using on kihon with Shihan Don running us through combinations of Ido Geiko. We ended the outside training and went into the training hall. Training in the hall was fantastic with Shihan Don instructing us through Shihan Bobby Lowe’s Goshin Jitsu/Self-Defense drills. Shihan Don broke each drill down step-by-step which helped everyone learn the basics of the drills. It was a great opportunity to learn and memorize great self-defense.
Shihan Don also worked with us on our Kihon Kumites by the numbers focusing on good Kihon techniques and good stances. Then he broke us up into groups for a timed five stage circuit training session working on Kata, footwork drills, sparring drills, Goshin Jitsu, and focus mitts and fight strategy with Sensei Dean. I enjoyed the five stage circuit training very much. The teaching by all the Shihans and Senseis was amazing. After lunch a quick study period prepping for the exam, it was time to get mentally focused for the Tameshiwari breaking requirements. I appreciated Sensei Brad taking all of us Shodan candidates aside and giving us a boost in our confidence for the breaking and our test. I also appreciated the advice and tips given by all the other Shihan’s, Senseis and Sempais. I am very grateful for all their time and knowledge and energy. Lance and I were successful with our breaking and moved onto the interviews. All the candidates were nervous not knowing what to expect. After the interview, the Dan candidates wrote the exam. The exam took a long time to complete. I am very thankful for Sensei Dean’s patience as he was the exam proctor. It was a late night and I appreciated his kind and supportive words.
During karate training, I fight to overcome my physical self. During the interview and written test I fought to overcome my mental self, but it is my heart and spirit that ties everything together. I will keep climbing that mountain continuing on my Kyokushin journey. Thank you everyone for all your support, knowledge, time, encouragement, and energy. You all made Winter Camp a great experience. We are all so lucky to have so many mentors to help guide us on our journey.
Winter Camp 2016 at Gardom Lake was exceptional. It was made even more special as this year my wife Sue and I are Dan candidates with Winter Camp being the first part of our grading process. Grading is always a bit stressful but even more so with going for Shodan. Sue and I were both successful in our Tameshiwari requirements and completed the exam and interview.
This year the camp was hosted in a new location at Gardum Lake Bible Camp. The facility was AWESOME! The quality barracks, dedicated dining area, and gymnasium really brought the camp to a new level in my opinion. The facility appears to be undergoing constant upgrades and improvements so should only get better.
Every training camp there is so much to be learned and this year was no different. When I think of what I have learned so far, it is clearly apparent that there is so much more to learn. I was speaking to someone at camp about this and reflected that I feel like that out of an ocean of knowledge in Kyokuhshin, I have about a thimbleful. In studying for the exam, I learned that there is a lot to learn. Studying all the available material, it really highlighted how far there is to go. In the Eleven Mottoes of Sosai Oyama, the saying “The Martial Way begins with a 1000 days of training and is mastered after 10,000 days of training” speaks to this. The Martial Way is a lifelong journey that demands dedication, an open mind, and perseverance. Shodan is therefore a ‘beginner’ grade on the path to mastering the Martial Way. Repetition with focus on proper technique, breath control, and posture were prominent and stood out to me this camp. Shihan Don reinforced many times the importance of being mindful of your breathing as it connects your mind and body and will help you to fight through fatigue and maintain your composure when it is most difficult. As I train, I am making a point to try and focus and develop proper breathing. This is not always easy depending on your level of fatigue but with continued focus I will seek to improve and gain this control.
Shihan Don talked several times about how to maintain your physical health to ensure longevity in your karate training. To keep your knees bent to ensure that your weight is mostly on your toes. This helps the fighter to stay light on their feet for both attack and retreat as well as utilizing the shock absorbency of the knees. Shihan Don stressed proper warm ups to prevent injury. Warm ups were focused on getting the muscles warmed up using light running, calisthenics, fun touch sparring games (touch the top of the head, shoulders inside/outside of thighs etc.) Stretching was meant to be done at the end of training or at least held off until the muscles are adequately warmed up to prevent injury or damage to the muscles.
Shihan Terry during one of the question and answer sessions commented that training is easy when you are not tired. Real training did not begin until you were fatigued. When you are fatigued, it is then that it is most difficult to maintain proper technique and posture. During one of the training sessions, Shihan Don reiterated that when you are fatigued you will revert to muscle memory and if you don’t practice with good technique, poor technique will be all the more magnified when you are fatigued. Shihan Don said that effective muscle memory is developed after 10,000 repetitions… “Perfect Practice makes perfect”.
In the student handbook, it quotes the IKO Entrance Guide stating “It should be clearly understood that the spirit of karate-do is to fight to overcome oneself, not others”. I believe that the battle to overcome oneself is the biggest battle you will face. It takes constant discipline, focus, introspection, perseverance, and hard training. To train effectively and efficiently it is important to train mindfully. Strive to always focus on proper breathing, good posture, proper stance, gaze, and a strong spirit as these will all help to overcome yourself and persevere under pressure – “OSU no seishin”. A strong spirit will be forged and tempered by hard training. All these were reinforced throughout the camp.
I love that there is so much to learn in Kyokushin both from the physical and philosophical perspective. It is this that keeps training and studying Kyokushin fresh and interesting for me. With the instructors at camp, I appreciated all the time and attention they paid to all the students. Shihan Larry is always a mentor to me and I find it so enlightening when he works a kata with me and shows me the bunkai. This camp, Shihan Larry took me aside and broke down parts of the Bassai Dai kata helping me to see things in the kata were otherwise hidden to me.
Sensei Leo and Shihan Don spoke about the yin-yang principle to make execution of technique most effective. They said that that it is important to think of the body as a system. No movement is done in isolation and all parts must work together for proper form and technique with all movement coming from the Tandan. Sensei Dean, as part of the 5 stage circuit training session, worked a combination that involved a yin-yang/circular principle. The combination utilized deception with the attacker stepping forward and executing a Jodan Mawashi Geri in order to draw the opponent forward into them as they stepped back and executed an Ushiro Mawashi Geri.
There are so many different levels of understanding for the physical and philosophical aspects of Kyokushin and the Martial Way. A I progress in my training I continue to have those “Ah-ha!” moments when something becomes more clear or I reach a new and a deeper understanding of a kata, stance, or technique. From the Eleven Mottoes, “In the Martial Arts, introspection begets wisdom. Always see contemplation in your action as a chance to improve”.
As a Dan candidate this year, I will look to and offer my fellow Dan candidates help and support though the grading process. I am honoured to be testing with the group of candidates grading this year. Sensei Brad was very supportive and demonstrated his excellent leadership skills talking with the Shodan candidates trying to put them at ease and assist in any way he could. In a true demonstration of support and comradery, the Shodan candidates all waited in the dining area after the test until the last person was finished. It was a late night with all of us not getting much sleep the night before. It was just something that happened. It was cool!
I am so appreciative of the organization that is the IKOKC and everything it has given to me and my family. To Shihan Stewart and Shihan Don, my Sensei and all the other Shihans, Senseis, and Sempais I have had the pleasure and honour of learning from, I thank you for your instruction, patience, time, and understanding. To the fellow students I have sweated, trained, and learned alongside of over these past years and years to come I can only say thank you for your support and friendship and for making me a better Karate ka.