The 3 day Karate Summer School is over.
It was great fun but the long journey home from the wilds of Bristol was hard as my whole body was aching. Not only from the training, which was tough; uncommonly tough; in the strong sunlight, but also from sleeping separated from the ground by only a thin futon.
The training was of the usual notably high standard of DKK Goju and covered weapons, multiple attacker defense, grappling, throws, full contact and lots and lots of fitness. All this taking place on a large angled piece of grass in the middle of a camping site. The lessons were split into bite size chunks of 1 – 2 hours and all were building from the basic “attack & smash” foundations of the style to the more kung-fu like advanced techniques.
And then, at the end of the second day, a special treat…
The quality of the DKK karateka is exemplified in the spectacle of someone completing their 30 man kumite and being awarded their 2nd Dan. Fighting 30 men in full contact for 1 minute each with only a 2 minute break halfway through is simply incredible. It is a wonder to watch as the emotions flow around the area capturing fighters and observers alike. Whenever the fighter gets put on the ground by a full contact kick he just keeps getting back up again and again. No matter how exhausted, battered and tired he returns to his feet. Even if he is so tired that he has lost the ability to fight back effectively, against the ever-fresh opponents, he just keeps going. There is not a dry eye in the house. Voices are shouted horse as the observers try to give encouragement however there is nothing but a Zen-like focus on the face or the fighter. I have seen 5 of these feats and I still have to hold back the tears as well as pull up my jaw from the floor.
One of the things the 30 man proves is that it is people that make a club and not the techniques. DKK has a brilliant group ethos, which is carefully developed through the training by Sensei Mulholland (who is an expert at such things) and Sensei Lewis (Who has an amazing skill at putting people at their ease). The after-hours camp fires, the chats around the tents and the evening swimming runs all make the experience one to truly treasure. I will surely miss it.
I will surely come back if I can.
There is something else I owe DKK. In October Francesca and I were effectively in a rut. I sat down one night and had a good long think about what I wanted from my life. I realised that since leaving Jung Do Kwan I had been living with a large gap in my life that was making me awfully unhappy. So I looked around the net and went fishing for a new club. Something old school. Something tough and effective. Something that would make a change in me.
If DKK was a fish then it would be a 35lb Pike.
It is a tough but highly skillful style, a club full of senior grades who have been training here for 10 years or more (always a very good sign), an instructor able to push you further than you thought you could go and some exceptionally talented fighters. Add the fact that Goju has a long heritage and you have the perfect martial arts club.
I was home. My marriage was soon saved because I basically pulled myself up and out of the rut. Every pressup was for the both of us and every sittup was another inch back to the martial artist I once was. Altough that journey has not finished (does it ever?) I feel great and able to go find a new life as a new man.
Summer School was the culmination of that last 8 months of training and I was very glad to not miss it. My memories of the place and people will go with me on my travels.
This next bit is not for the squeamish though… so click to continue:
I was expecting to come back from the event covered in bruises and indeed I have and then some. I was expecting to come back tired and by gum I did. But I wasn’t expecting to find two small arachnids in superfamily Ixodoidea eating me when I went to have a bath.
Two bloody ticks!
Any ticks is one tick too many, but these two were… well; nasty. One was munching on my armpit. That was not so bad and I pulled the little fucker off with a horrifying crunching sound. No, it was his friend that caused the real shock.
It was on my balls.
My joy bags, my berries, my nads, my bollocks, my cojones, my manjigglys’…
On. My. Testicles!
Anyway, bollock munching 8 legged insect vermin aside I had a brilliant time and very much hope that I will see these people again. As for the lessons, I will carry those with me always.