I will start by stating it was an excellent camp put on by Rick and Kam of the Ottawa Ryusei Club. That being said it was challenging to get there, an interesting stay and a challenging return. From our club sadly only Matt Mannerow and I were able to attend this year.
On the Friday morning as I prepared to leave my home to meet Matt in Hanover everything seemed to be an effort. Could it have been the 30 degree weather(90) or so for our American friends. Hot, hazy, sticky, muggy it was a great start to a weekend of vigorous training. On my way I realized I had enough gas to get to Hanover a 45 minute drive for me, so I decided I would call Matt and let him know I would be a bit late. Horror my cell phone was nowhere to be found, stopping the car I searched, what I thought to be everywhere. Reluctantly I turned the car around only 20 minutes from Matt’s and drove home to see where I had left it. Doreen met me at the door concerned that I had returned, she called my cell number as we still could not find the thing. NOTHING!!! I walked back to the car and heard a faint ringing, opening the car door I found it in my karate bag under my sparring gloves; how did it get there? No matter I jumped in the car and left, whew that should be it. I started out once again making my way as quickly as I could without attracting Police attention, I had no way to know we were not going anywhere soon when I got there.
Meanwhile in Hanover Matt was having problems getting going also, he decided to update his GPS. Just hook up to the computer and in a couple of minutes; reality check a couple of hours it would be updated. Yikes and no way to stop the process without wrecking something. Matt greeted me with that news, so we did some last minute shopping etc, when we returned the GPS amazingly was set to go(we thought). Ok, off we go at 11:30 should be able to get through Toronto before rush hour. Our drive in Matt’s new car (very nice) with arctic air conditioning was smooth sailing at first. Our approach to Toronto would yield an entirely different scenario. See, Matt said “ It is great, we will beat the rush and be on our way”. We did not know the rush starts at 12 noon in the summer, we soon found out as we ground to a stop on 401 east just past the Don Valley Parkway. With outside temperatures of 38 Celsius it was good to be in the car. As we listened to the radio hoping for some relief from the crawl, Tornado and severe Thunderstorm warning were issued across southern Ontario and Quebec right where we were heading to.
Now close to two hours behind our schedule, the traffic cleared out and the rest of the drive was pretty uneventful except for the high winds and torrential downpour. The GPS led us through some scenic areas in Ottawa searching for the bridge to get us into Quebec, and stopping for supper at the first Tim Hortons we realized that the French menu was hard to read so lets have ham and swiss. As we drove down the country road to Rick’s we saw a large pine tree had been blown over and was partially on the road, it also had the hydro lines under it that led to Rick’s. “That does not look good” we said at the same time. We were right as we got to the house it was all dark and candles and flashlights were the hot object.
Rick and Basia were awesome hosts with even this new obstacle. Matt and I relaxed after the arduous journey and had some evening libations with our friends and fellow karateka’s. Sleeping arrangements were made and we all hit the hay in anticipation of a wonderful day of training, sweating, learning and sharing. The morning brought new challenges after a night of battling wits with a horde of mosquitoes. Coffee that black elixir that so many need to awake to the morning, how would we make that with no power? Rick had a generator that decided to quit, but the side burner on the BBQ had us hot water in no time and we had instant coffee. So far the adventure was having us guessing what was going to happen next.
Giffen-Sensei had an early class for meditation, which some made their way to. I enjoyed the extra sleep and prepared for the karate class to start at 10am. We had breakfast in style, with no hydro, thankfully we had croissants and fruit. The time drew near for the training to begin however with only outdoor toilets (thankfully Rick had build years earlier) one had to wait your turn until one was free. Giffen-Sensei started the training with breathing exercises using shime-no-kata, with the heat a bit less it still was not long before we were sweating. He spent a lot of the morning on Kusanku Kata with explanation of movement and how to deliver some of the more interesting stepping punching sequences.
Before we knew it the morning was over and Kam’s wife had arrived and was preparing a wonderful lunch for all of us. They used restaurant style trays with flame heaters so we had a nice warm meal. Some had seconds, a good idea?? The lunch break was over and by 2 we were in the Dojo again, after a warm up Valentino-Sensei took the class through a series of bunkai using moves directly from kata. His power is very apparent when he demonstrates his technique. A lot of insights were gained and reaffirmed what Matt and I are doing in our research.
As the afternoon wore on Kam and Rick had an opportunity to share some of their ideas . Kam was working with hidden technique by using a portion of mawashi-uke and applying them to niseishi bunkai. Rick had some interesting ideas about peripheral vision and applied them using kihon-dosa-yon. The front attacker would be one step away, the right side was two steps and the third was three. Everyone would start their attack at the same time and the defender using peripheral vision would respond. A very effective way of using this kihon to develope the senses for multiple attacks.
I was asked to show some of what I was working on. With Matt’s assistance I showed some of the tai-sabaki bunkai from front stance and the concept of entering while apparently yielding to an attack. My time was short so I showed them the first set of moves and the entering and subsequent breaks and take downs. Matt and I demonstrated the last set as the day was getting long. We were encouraged by positive reaction to what we had showed.
Supper was soon to be realized again with no power, but Sushi Chef Brian had his part covered. He enlisted some of the participants and was soon serving tray after tray of delicious sushi. Kam, Rick and others put their BBQ skills to work and soon we were enjoying the fruit of their labours. Even with no power we were able to feast like royalty.
As our bellies were filled and our muscles relaxed with the assistance of alcoholic elixirs the guitar of Zsolt and the drums of Rick came out. Many songs were sung and drums were beaten into the late night. A bonfire was started and we moved outside with the smoke from the fire stemming the mosquito onslaught, but by then no one really cared.
The morning came early and Giffen-Sensei offered a meditation class again for those that wanted to rise early. After the class breakfast was served, and many goodbyes were had as Valentino-Sensei and his group departed. We started the last session of the camp around 10:30a.m. Giffen-Sensei was instructing. We practised all the Kata up to Ryushan, using both sides of the body, it was apparent that some of us needed to work on developing both sides. When we concluded once again finishing with #10 of Henshuho done in vaious ways, the sweat poured freely and well a shower would have been great, oh well have to wait till home.
After an in depth meeting about our upcoming manual for Ryusei we packed up said our goodbyes and Matt and I left for home. Set the GPS and OH WHAT NOW!! Apparently the GPS was not working at all, it had us crossing where no roads were, and well we thought how do we get home now. Matt does not have any maps in his car so I took periodic readings of the sun and we made our way to the 417 south to the 401.
Onto the 401 wow smooth sailing traffic travelling at 125 we should be home by 9 or 10. OOOPs did I say that out loud, you guessed it just this side of Oshawa traffic jam. We took an off ramp and worked our way north eventually getting to Hanover around 11:30p.m. After a short stop I was on my way for the 45 minute drive to my house. Well each year it seems this camp is an adventure, this year more than most. Thanks to all the people I trained, taught and shared technique with it made the trip all worthwhile.
More pictures from the summer camp(s), click here