Report on the 2009 Camp

By Prof. Edward Downey

I would like my sincere thanks to everyone who supported the European Kenpo Camp in Ireland last weekend.

My wife Martina, plus a great team of parents and students from my Kenpo Academy in Celbridge put in many long hours to ensure the camps success.

In particular I would like to extend special thanks to Sandra Cuffe and Sharon Maher who helped coordinated the event, they are truly wonderful people.

The EKKA club instructors in Ireland were also very supportive of the camp and I would like to extend my grateful appreciation to our many sponsors.

The camp venue was the Shannon Oaks Hotel in Portumna, Co. Galway, Ireland.

The camp attracted 240 participants who travelled from United States, Austria, Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, and Denmark and from all parts of Ireland.

 The camp Instructors were: Master John Sepulveda 9th Degree, Master Bob White 9th Degree Professor Ed Downey 7th Degree, Dian Tanaka 6th degree and Pat Salantri 6th degree. We also had two guests instructors Per Sørensen & Torben Simonsen both of whom are 6th dan jushinryu jujitsu teachers from Denmark. Master John Sepulveda's classes were top class; he has fully recovered from last year's accident and is moving great. Professor Sepulveda teaching style is very clear and precise, and he affords equal attention and respect to all students regardless of their rank. Master Bob Whites classes at the camp were very popular, his friendly manner and dynamic technique being a key feature of his lessons. Dian Tanaka and Pat Salantri's seminars were as usual top quality and they inspired a new generation of Kenpoists with their ability and skills.

Mr. Steve Cooper also gave classes at the camp which were very well received.  The Kenpo camps atmosphere and camaraderie between participants was fantastic. The participants trained hard during the three day camp and gained an in-depth knowledge of the Kenpo system from some of the World's most renowned Kenpo Masters. There was great social interaction between participation countries and many friendships were renewed and new friendships were established during the camp. 

In conjunction with the camp the AKTS-EKKA Black Belt Council awarded Mr. John Burgess, Mr. Anthony Taylor and Mr. Richard Burgess their 6th Degree black belts. The association was also delighted to award Mr. Julian McDermott his 5th Degree Black Belt. The above four men are very remarkable people and excellent Kenpoists who have collectively put in excess of 120 years of training, study and commitment to the Kenpo system. Five other students successfully tested for their 1st degree black belt, their names were; Damien Kearney (Celbridge), Aurélien Dollet (France), Franck Dhellin (France), Eoin Heffernan (Bawnogue) and Thomas McGrane (Bawnogue). The examining board was headed by Master John Sepulveda 9th Degree, Master Bob White 9th Degree Professor Ed Downey 7th Degree, and Dian Tanaka 6th degree.  

2009 European Kenpo Camp
By Kieran Doody, 
Westgate Kenpo Karate Club

Introduction

The European Kenpo camps are organised by Professor Ed Downey the European Director of American Kenpo Training System. Held once a year and run over a weekend the camps are an opportunity for Kenpo students at all levels to get together and train with some of the most senior people in Kenpo and sometimes with experts in other styles. This years camp took place between the 24th and 26th of April in Portumna, County Galway and was my first Kenpo camp. I was so impressed with so many things about this camp I decided to write about it, this is my experience of the 2009 European Kenpo Camp.

Arrival

On Friday I arrived at the camp with my instructor Mr. Anthony O'Connor (Westgate Kenpo Karate Club), we headed straight to the camp H.Q. where we were greeted by Professor Downey and given details on where we were staying and the itinerary for the weekend. We were allocated a lodge sharing with some of the dignitaries who were giving classes over the weekend so it was a great opportunity to get to talk to them outside of a class environment.

The facilities were excellent, each lodge had several bedrooms and large living area, breakfast was self service in the lodge and dinner was served in the hotel. The hotel leisure facilities were available to us although I didn't feel the need for them after taking the Kenpo classes!

With little time to spare we headed for the hotel for dinner and met Mr. Julian McDermott and his student Kevin McCarron from the Castleknock Kenpo Karate Club where Mr. O'Connor had had trained and instructed for many years. There was good banter at the table between everyone including Prof. Tanaka who received a crash course in Irish humour, it didn't take long before she was getting the upper hand!

Training

All too soon dinner was over and it was down to the local community hall for our first session. The classes were divided into lower belt ranks up to Orange, intermediate ranks between Purple and Green then Brown belt and higher. Children's classes and Women only classes were also available at the hotel. I fall into the intermediate category and the first class was with Master Bob White. After a quick introduction we were straight into some warm ups followed by forms and techniques and I can tell you we had all worked off our dinner calories by the time we finished. If I can mention one thing Master White taught us it was to use real strikes in our forms, i.e. to put real emphasis on the key strikes in our forms striking as we would do in a fight situation with power and proper stance.

After the class we headed back to the lodge where we got to spend some time listening and talking to Prof. Dian Tanaka, Prof. Pat Salantri and Master John Sepulveda. This was a great experience and a rare privilege for me, views were exchanged and stories told which any person, Kenpo student or otherwise, would find very interesting. After that some of us headed off for a 'night cap' at the hotel bar. There was a great atmosphere and comradery between this group of martial artists which I was proud to be part of and the locals seemed very enthusiastic and happy to have us there.

Day 2

The next morning we were back to training and my first class was with Per Sørensen and Torben Simonsen of Jushinryu Jujitsu. They were demonstrating some techniques which involved blocks, holds and sometimes throws. The demonstrations were very realistic and there were a few gasps from the students (and the victim) as some wrist holds and arm locks were applied to full effect. During the class I met one of the students from Austria and we got to try the techniques on each other, many thanks for your help Monica! It was a reminder to get back to practicing my languages, luckily Monica's English was a lot better than my German!

Before lunch we had a class with Prof. Dian Tanaka in stick techniques. The class started with basic stick work building up to defence techniques and culminating with the application of what we learnt to the 'Storm' techniques. I found this very useful as it has helped me better understand the mechanics involved in countering a weapon attack. When we broke for lunch we headed back to the lodge where our resident cook, Kevin McCarron, produced an excellent fry up and fruit salad. Thanks again Kevin!

It was a rush to get back to Prof. Downey's class and I just about made it, now this was one class where "to feel is to believe" was the order of the day. I started working techniques with Walter from Portugal when Prof. Downey needed to demonstrate one of the movements in Dance of Death. I was called up and asked to throw the traditional left jab right punch which would be a likely scenario for Dance of Death, Prof. Downey executed the step off and block then stepped forward and struck me with his shoulder. The effect was to throw me back and despite trying I couldn't get my balance back and landed on Walter, thanks for the soft landing Walter! It showed that if you step correctly you will need very little effort when unbalancing your opponent. We also worked on two man techniques and Walter's brother Louis stepped in to help us with these.

The last class on Saturday was with Prof. Pat Salantri on balance. Prof. Salantri had us perform Circling Wing on each other and then told us to hold our position at the finger strike, we then compared our stance with how we would have been standing if we had done a normal strike without the turn. It was surprising to see how we were making similar mistakes when doing the technique as most of us were leaning far right of where we would normally be. The cure is to introduce a step into the turn so that you end up striking straight into your opponent and in balance. Prof. Salantri went on to other techniques where we need to be aware of our balance and how it can make all the difference when dealing with an opponent, something I'll be keeping mind of when practicing in the future.

When I got back to the lodge I had a chance to talk to Master Sepulveda about the signing of a Karate Suit the night before which led me to write a separate article. Dinner at the hotel was excellent again followed by drinks at the bar, a great night was had by all.

Last Day

Sunday morning was to be my last training session as I was heading back home early, unfortunately some knee trouble kept me from training properly but on advice from Master Sepulveda I had pen and paper ready to take notes. Master Bob White gave another great class on Fighting Strategy beginning by stating his first rule of strategy: "Don't get Hit!", which got everyone laughing. The session was well paced with lots of content and I'm sure everyone came away with plenty to work on well after the camp was over. One of the last gems of information Master White gave was about accessing the expertise around us and not to miss our chance to benefit from the great calibre of people around us before it was too late. This is something I hope I made the most of during my stay at the camp.

Heading for home I felt the weekend had been very worthwhile and something I would be recommending to my fellow Kenpo students, next time I will be planning well ahead to make sure I can stay for the full camp which finished with a special dinner on Sunday night. I'd like to thank all of the students and instructors for their help and friendship during my time at the camp and a special Thank You to Professor Downey and all the people who helped to make the camp a great success.