My two daughters, Asmara (age 9) and Adriana (age 7) and I just returned from karate camp in Teapot Valley sponsored by the Nelson dojo. As beginners, this was our first karate camp and we were not sure what to expect. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Having trained briefly in Nelson last year it was a privilege to see Hanshi Andy, Seishihan Jane and Seishihan Stephen as well as other senpai and members of the dojo again.
I took the girls out of school early Friday and we flew down to Nelson arriving in camp just as things were literally kicking off at 6 PM. It was quite a sight to see 150 karateka all in gi formed in a giant circle on the field practicing kicks, punches and kias in unison. One might have thought we were a private army – if armies had mothers and children as there were plenty of those. The girls slept in bunkbeds in an all girl’s cabin and I got stuck with a bunch of pre-pubescent boys who snored loudly and made farting noises all night long thinking themselves incredibly funny. Of course, at 11 or 12 years of age I would have been doing exactly the same thing.
Everyone from the highest Seishihan down to the lowest beginner were in good spirits and fully participated in all classes and the pre-dawn zazen. Each morning, while still dark we dressed in gi and sweaters, some wearing wool hats, and quietly gathered onto the field lining up and sitting down in seiza as Hanshi began the ceremony by pounding on a wooden plank suspended from a great tree. There we meditated quietly listening to the birds sing as the sun in all its glory slowly rose behind us casting one and all in warm pink and golden light. After that it was time for exercises and running in the woods to be followed by class and a most welcome hot breakfast. It was really not a bad way to begin the day.
In between other classes during the day there was time to watch the black belt classes, let the children play and even take a swim in the frigid pool. My girls made friends and when it was time to go home they didn’t want to leave. Adriana was astonished, “What? We have to wait one whole year to come back?”
I learned more about Seido, met other like-minded people on this path and perhaps even improved my technique. Karate camp was time well spent and I recommend this experience to everyone. OSU!
– Derek (10th kyu)