-by Senpai Phillips

CMAC West Camp 2013 (1)Wow, what a fantastic weekend of martial arts!  It is always a privilege to able to enjoy a seminar with Hanshi Platt, so a full weekend of seminars is something super-special!  The weekend was packed with new lessons, sage advice and challenging activities and the time just seemed to fly by. Taking us out of the rush and hubbub of everyday life, Hanshi Platt started the Friday evening session with chi gung and bagua.  After a long week at work it was just what our bodies needed, a few hours of slow meditative movements, a ‘relax’ for the body and mind that tuned us in to our delta, theta and alpha brain wave, allowing our bodies to let go of tension and encouraging our minds to be clear.   The bagua, or circle walking, helped to counteract the linearity of our daily routines. CMAC West Camp 2013 (2)On Saturday morning we grabbed our bos, jos and bokken and got ready for the ancient weapons/Kobudo session. What may seem to be the basics of holding and training with a bo is not quite so easy in a dojo full of people, ranging from novices to experts, all swinging bos. Yet, the training focused our awareness and sharpened our coordination, allowing a whole room of people to work together with ease. We followed Hanshi Platt instructions, moving from partner drills to katas, reviewing bo katas and sword forms, slowly cultivating our inner invincible intent. CMAC West Camp 2013 (3)CMAC West Camp 2013 (4)On Saturday afternoon we moved from the Way of the Bo and the sword to the Way of No Sword, the empty-handed Way – Karate-do.  We drilled blocking combinations, working in pairs, trying to remember the movements Hanshi Platt had demonstrated.  Blocks, punches and counters were drilled over and over cultivating our focus and our inner intent. As the day drew to a close, focusing our attention once more on the here and now, Hanshi Platt threw in a new kata for good measure. CMAC West Camp 2013 (5)The official Grand Opening of the Karuma Yama dojo followed the Saturday afternoon session, with three playful, myschevious and colourful lion dancers appearing as if out of nowhere, with drummer and cymbals.  Courtesy of Sensei Tammy Thankachin, the lion dancers brought the energy of celebration to the Grand Opening. The Lion Dance was followed by katas by Sensei Williams, Senpai Globe, Sensei Thankachin, Senpai Phillips, Senpai Thankachin and several of the students of Oku Damashi dojo who were there for the opening. CMAC West Camp 2013 (6)On Sunday morning Hanshi Platt reviewed the chi gung moves from Friday night to get everyone back into their alpha, theta, delta minds and then turned our attention to Tai Chi and the fluid fist set, yet another tool to cultivate our inner invincible intent. CMAC West Camp 2013 (7)The black belt grading that followed was the culmination of a weekend of cultivating that intent, the inner invincible intent to move forward and to improve ourselves, to demonstrate our readiness to move to the next level and yet also our abilities to be grounded and rooted in our inner power.  Grading candidates were Arek Thankachen, Nidan Karate-do [Kurama Yama]; Danny Burgar, Nidan Karate-do [Oku Damashi]; Steve Zambory, Shodan Karate-do[OD]; Michele Konschuh, Shodan karate-do[OD]; Karen McCullagh, Shodan Karate-do [OD]; Sybil Pridmore, Shodan Karate-do [OD]; Kevin Kaufman, Shodan Karate-do[OD]; Sensei Tammy Thankachen, Nidan Kobudo [Karuma Yama] and Senpai Ann Phillips, Yondan Kobudo [Hasu & Karuma Yama]. CMAC West Camp 2013 (8)The grading was not to be outdone by the celebration afterwards at the Japanese Village, a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant like no other.   From the karate kick a couple of us sampled in the bar [which really turned out to be tai chi kick – slow off the mark but packing a big punch], to the garlicky steak sauce, magic show and the Japanese Chef who could flip his knives as well than any kobudo black belt, the evening was simply spectacular and a fitting way to say Thank you to Hanshi Platt, Sensei Williams and Senpai Globe for traveling from Ontario to share their skill and expertise and to Sensei Thankachin for her role in organization the seminar and last but not least, to Sensei Sukys for hosting the seminars and for opening his new dojo. One can honestly say that a good time was had by all this past weekend as we trained hard to cultivate our inner invincible intent.  What better way to spend a weekend! Thank you to all, but especially Hanshi Platt!!