With the help of Sensei Richard Barham 6th Dan, we held our first summer camp at the beginning of August. Over five days, the 2-hour sessions provided an opportunity for students to have some intense training which allowed them to improve their karate in a very short period, learn new techniques, and have some fun on hot summer days.
Although the group was small, we were able to split between green belts and red belts, which allowed us to provide a programme over the week and meant we could give more personal attention to each student.
Between myself and Sensei we conducted sessions on Kihon, Renketsu-Dosa and Kata as well as pad work. The variety was excellent in keeping the youngsters interested, and each day was split into three sessions, with warm up games and drink breaks, as temperatures reached the mid 30’s. Sensei took the green belts through Pinan Godan over a couple of sessions, and our keen-eyed photographer snapped a good example of him demonstrating the jump! Amongst the syllabus work we went through; we also took time to introduce students to Ukemi (break fall). The venue we rented (Jubilee High School in Addlestone) had some good mats to try this on, but as it was only an introduction, we focussed on soft falls, from kneeling, including forwards, backwards and sideways rolling to a guard position working on keeping our hands up. Demonstrations on how this can then be used to defend from the floor were given, and the intention is to do more of these kinds of sessions to help build up confidence and ability.
One of the common threads through the week was the use of the pads, this was partly because the kids enjoy the freedom of being able to strike a target, but also the focus was on accuracy and balance ahead of power. Sensei used the pads to help our young students understand the starting principles of jiyu kumite, and the idea that when attacking, the opponent will respond. It was encouraging to start to see students realise the importance of staying focussed during these drills and see their reaction times improve as well. At the end of the week, and to burn off any remaining energy, we did a kicking competition whereby points were awarded for chudan (5pts) and jodan (10pts) keri waza, within a 30 second period. Thankfully I didn’t disgrace myself compared to the kids!
The week culminated with two of our red belt students passing their 8th kyu grade. Being twins, they are always competitive, and it was great to see them both do so well. We’re hopeful that the summer camp will act as a starting point for more training like this, to complement the weekly classes and ensure during holiday periods students can continue with their karate journey.
Another positive from the week was being able to design and print some Shikukai T-Shirts. Using the new logo which designer Frank Parry has assisted with, we produced a small batch which the camp attendees were presented with.
My thanks to Richard Barham Sensei for his support in the weeks leading up to the course, and for his help at the camp itself.