I also got my butt kicked, so successes for everyone.
This past weekend was the 17th Annual Martial Way Martial Arts Camp. This is my second time going, but other campers have been going for years. Every year is a different experience, and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen when you get there. There are two tracks students can choose from: Kempo or Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ). I was on the Kempo track again this year.
Last year, I went for Green First, which was the level before my current rank of Brown. But because I tested just a few months ago, I wasn’t eligible (and frankly, I wasn’t ready) to test for Brown First at camp. So I had the luxury of pretty much doing whatever I wanted there without the pressure of testing at the end.
So, I made very good use of my time. Not only was I able to get a lot of instruction and direction on my Kempo techniques and forms, I was also able to spend some time training in other arts. One of our senseis led us in a couple arnis de mano workshops, and we got to learn some escrima stick fighting basics. Another of our senseis trains police officers for a living, so we got a crash course in what he called “copjitsu,” which is based off the Gracie system. He also taught us some tonfa techniques. A tonfa is a traditional martial arts weapon, usually wood with a short handle.
On the last day, while others were testing, my fellow brown belt and I were able to take some BJJ basics. Up until then, I’d never been particularly interested in the sport; it was intimidating and a little bit scary for me. But I swallowed my misgivings down and went for it anyway. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I don’t know if it is something I’ll pursue further, but now I’m not quite so nervous about it as I was before. As they say, anything is possible.
All in all, I participated in four extended Kempo JiuJitsu classes (averaging 75 minutes to 2.5 hours each), two arnis de mano sessions, one tonfa session, one Gracie session, a beginner BJJ session, and a very helpful mobility session Saturday evening. There was also an epic “water polo” tournament with questionable points-counting and some very fluid (ha ha) rules. I even made three goals . . . two of which were for my own team!
It was an incredible weekend. Once again, I had so much fun and I was grateful for the experience. It was wonderful to see so many of my dojomates rank up; some of them are catching up to me quickly! Frankly, I welcome it, as it can be difficult to be one of only two people in a rank.
We’ve got an amazing group of people at our dojo. I love that our senseis and teachers have what I have come to believe is a rare mix of depth of knowledge, patience, incredible skills, and a sense of humor. It really makes the difference between an elitist dojo and an accessible one. For someone like me who isn’t in it for the competition and isn’t particularly sporty, the relaxed atmosphere makes it easier for me to learn and grow.
It’s incredible for me to see how much I’ve grown, and how much there still is to learn. Even going back to simple white belt techniques that I learned two and a half years ago, there are new depths to explore. There are always forms to fix and techniques to tweak. If I remember half of what I learned this weekend, I’ll consider it a win.
I’m considering today a rest day, as I’m sore everywhere and I’ve got more bruises on my arms than I can count. I also have like five loads of laundry I need to do. Kempo in August means a LOT of sweaty, stinky laundry. Note to self: air out the suitcase before you put it away.
All in all, it was another wonderful, exhausting experience. I’m already looking forward to next year’s camp. Only 364 more days to go!