I know there have been a few posts about last month's European Kenpo Camp already but I had to add my comments even if they are a bit late.
Professor Ed Downey and his team did a fantastic job organizing this event. Several people have already commented on what they learned so I wanted to mention what a great service Professor Downey is providing.
Eddie has arranged for his students and anybody else who attends, to learn from some of the very best instructors in the world. With names like LaBounty, White, Sepulveda, Downey, Tanaka and Salantri as the instructors there is no way I could not become a better martial artist.
The best part of the camp for me however was the chance to meet and interact with fellow Kenpoists from 10 different countries. I got to see how they interpreted and executed their Kenpo. I was also fortunate enough to share a cabin with Mr. LaBounty, Mr. Sepulveda, Ms. Tanaka and Mr. Salantri. I was able to sit at the table and listen to these world class Kenpoists talk about their experiences and hear stories about Mr. Parker.
This was my first chance to meet Ms. Tanaka and she was a pleasure to be around. She is a great martial artist, an excellent teacher and 100% class act. I enjoyed her class and spending time getting to know her.
Mr. Downey also went out of his way to be a great host. We had several non-martial artists come over from BWKS. Eddie arranged tours, bus trips, boat rides etc. to make sure all his guests had a great time. Everything he did was with the purpose of providing a better experience for all his guests.
Thanks to Mr. Downey, all the instructors, all my Irish and European friends and the AKTS for a wonderful experience.
For the 40 years I have been attending tournaments, I have formed relationships with people that were based on a one weekend per year basis. As an example, the Internationals every year. Although I formed close relationships with friends that I saw at these events, the tournaments did not lend us the opportunities for interaction and exchanging of ideas that these camps do. The opportunity to interact with other instructors and students has given me a chance to observe other teachers explain our art. That knowledge has helped me to become a better teacher. The old example that Mr. Parker used about the man who lived at the bottom of the well, can easily apply, if you don't get out and get involved. The question often asked on forums is, "What did you learn?" I know I learn more by attending than by not attending. This last weekend Professor Eddie Downey hosted the European Kenpo Camp. I had a chance to teach classes with Sigung Steve LaBounty, Master John Sepulveda, Professor Dian Tanaka Whitson, Professor Pat Salantri, and Eddie Downey. The camp was full and the enthusiasm great. High energy with passion for what we love. We had 24 people, including their families, from our school, go to Ireland for this event. Next year I am sure we will have more. John Wooden uses this formula as a basis for his success at UCLA: Basics + Conditioning + Unity = Success. The unity is the chance to train with other people that might open up doors for increased knowledge. I want to thank our hosts for a wonderful learning opportunity. I enjoyed competitive opportunities for many years. I now enjoy and appreciate the learning opportunities that camps provide as well as the competitive opportunities provided by tournaments. As a martial artist it is my responsibility to learn and improve my art. I feel that to achieve your goal as a martial artist, you need to explore as many learning opportunities as possible. The camp in Ireland was a great time and the fact that I also learned many things just adds to the value.
Just wanted to post a quick message to thank all the Instructors and participants in the 2008 Euro Camp. It was a fantastic weekend of kickass Kenpo, learning and friendship.
Thanks to Sigung, Master Sepulveda, Master White, Prof Downey, Prof Salantri and Prof Tanaka for awesome classes and thanks to all the participants who attended and gave a great buzz to the classes and made the weekend rock from one end to the other.
Everyone agreed that it was the best camp yet with some amazing classes and the social side was great too with people forging new friendships that will last for a long time to come.
We all can't wait until next year when it comes around again and brings together some of the best people in the Kenpo world.
Regards and Respect
What a great camp it was at this year's European Kenpo Camp in Portumna, Ireland. The friendship and camaraderie was fantastic, the ideas, training and mutual respect everybody had for each other, all played their part in making this year's camp a really great experience. With students from the US, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, France, United Kingdom, and Germany all present this year.
Every year, we tell Prof. Ed Downey that the camp couldn't get any better, and every year he produces an event that surpasses previous years.
That's due, largely, to the calibre of instructors he brings to the camp every year. Two years ago, the Sigung came aboard to join Prof Sepulveda and Prof Downey. Last year Prof Pat Salantri and Prof Bob White came along and added another fine set of seminars to the schedule. This year, Ms Dian Tanaka came to Portumna and gave some very interesting classes on stick fighting plus a special, women only class which I was unable to sneak into (I tried).
The camp kicked off on Friday night with a knife seminar from Mr Salantri. A fascinating class and some ju jitsu people present who thought they knew about knives had their eyes opened by this extremely knowledgeable instructor.
First up for the Black belts on Saturday was Prof Bob White. This legendary fighter took us through some kicking drills that proved to us his legendary status. This guy can still kick ass!
Next was Prof Downey, who took us through some drills to enhance our timing on Kenpo techniques. It is always great to work with Prof Downey, even though he is my instructor, he constantly leaves me in awe of his power and dynamism. It makes me want to be just like him when I grow up!
After lunch saw us with Sigung. Always interesting working with Sigung. He did some variations on old favourites that kept us on our toes. I have to say, though, it I an honour to have someone like Sigung come to our camp every year. Underneath that rugged, rough and tumble, exterior is a man who cares deeply about Kenpo and the people that practice it. And he says himself he's a handsome man, I daren't disagree!
We closed the Saturday seminars with Mr Sepulveda. What can I say about this powerhouse? A horse lands on him and he's still up there toughin' it with the best. Sir, we're all delighted and relieved to see you back on your feet and I'm sure your backflip will return to its usual form real soon. He told me the horse was ok, too. Prof Sepulveda led us through some techniques using the Kenpo Clubs (not sticks, he is adamant, clubs use the whole body). We worked Five Storms, Reversing Storms and a few other techniques from Long 7. It proved to be an interesting contrast to Ms Tanaka's drills the next day.
Sunday kicked off with Mr Salantri, empty handed this time, we covered some interesting insights Prof Salantri had about some techniques. We worked Spiralling Twig for a while, taking the opponents fingers with the left instead of the right. You know what? I liked it, it seems to work really well. I'm keeping it as a variation on the base. There were other techniques, too but this one stuck in my mind.
Finally, the last 'official' class of the camp was with Ms Tanaka. I've been asking Prof Downey for a couple of years now to bring this Kenpo Queen over to Ireland. Women see high-ranking men teaching all the time that some don't realise that they, too, can get to the top. I've read nothing but good reports about this great instructor and was delighted to finally step on the mat with her. Her theme was single stick for this class, and her blend of Kenpo and Doce Pares was fascinating to watch and had us all clattering sticks loudly around the hall. I now have a new hunger to work with the clubs more.
There was bonus seminar given by Prof White based on his insightful DVD on Sparring Tactics. This class was well received by aspiring tournament fighters and their instructors who were able to benefit from Prof White's vast experience both in the ring and at ringside.
Every evening at the camp saw us anaesthetising ourselves at the hotel bar, comparing bruises and badges of honour and partaking in secret bonding rituals I am not at liberty to divulge here. The last night (Sunday) was no different except for the fact we have our close of camp banquet. The banquet opened with demonstrations from demo teams from various clubs, many of the participants were children. All the demos were awesome and I can't comment fully on them all. My own humble troupe of kids choreographed their own fight scene that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Jackie Chan movie, there was weapons action and humour. Next was a superb performance to music by kids from Prof Downey's school and a club in Cavan run by Michael Watters. Next was an incredible performance of the Staff Set by the French EKKA Chief Instruct, Mr Max Boucherb. Long Form 3 was performed to the sound of Welcome to the Jungle wearing a camouflage Gi by a young girl who shows great potential in years to come.
There were performances by Darren Mahony and his soon-to-be-wife, Antonia Redriguez, originally from the island of Jersey in the English Channel. They demonstrated an excellent version of Two Man Form and double stick, all to music.
Ms. Aisling Byrne, a European and World titleholder performed Long Form 6. I have to say, in 28 years of Shotokan and Kenpo I have never seen a better performance of a form. A champion performance. She was joined by Mr Max Boucherb for a self-defence demo.
The Spanish contingent, led by Master Eduardo de la Torres 5th degree, put together a hard-hitting Self Defence demo and you would believe a Spaniard can fly. They were throwing each other all over the place and landing with gratuitous whacks, to roaring applause.
After that, presentations were made to the various camp instructors, last year they were given a bronze depiction of Cu Chulainn (Cucullen), Irelands unfallen hero, a fitting tribute to the warriors present. This year, to continue the theme a bronze depiction of a Cu Chulainn nemesis, Queen Maedhbh (Maeve) and the Brown Bull (a story you can look up called (Tain Bo Cuainne, King Cullen's Brown Bull).
After the meal (which was excellent) we all retired to the bar where in traditional Irish fashion, alcohol was taken in copious quantities. I spent the night talking to the extremely interesting Mr Steve Cooper, Sir, thanks for letting me bend your ear till 3 am. I also talked with Mr Salantri and Ms Tanaka Whitson.
I can't wait till next year
Paul Canavan - Enniscorthy Kenpo & Self Defence School