25th-27th November 2005
At last for the first time in a good few years things were looking very promising for a properly “winter” winter course. As I sat watching the TV in the hire company reception area, waiting for the people carrier to be brought out of the garage, the news told of snow, blocked roads and 240 schools closed in South Wales due to the poor conditions. The end of the report warned that you should only drive in the area if it was a vital journey. Of course it was vital! It’s the Westminster Ishinryu winter course therefore people needed to train outside in a field and a forest. I decided to pay the extra for the collision damage waiver and headed off to collect the people travelling with me from central London. Together we had warm clothing, emergency food supplies and an extra crate of beers (just in case we broke down beyond walking distance to a pub).
The roads were actually quite clear, maybe because the sensible people of the UK had heeded the warnings, so we didn’t need any more than a service station comfort break or two before stopping on the Welsh borders for some more supplies (I hadn’t realised that dark rum was an ideal chaser after a long Stella Artois motorway journey but one of my passengers explained it was vital). The snow had appeared along the road side just before we crossed into Wales but it wasn’t exactly the hellish condition the weather people had been screaming about.
Training started on Saturday in the middle of a pitch black, open field at 6am. Yes there was the crunching sound of the frosted grass under your feet in the darkness and a numbness in your fingers as the wind chill factor whipped across them, but was it wasn’t truly cold like the early courses of 10 or 11 years ago, and where was all our snow?? WE’D BEEN ROBBED AGAIN!
Sensei Allan Prasad soon had us warmed up with a variety of basics and combination so the early shivers turn to sweat as the light slowly came up over the hills and forest. Mind you, Sensei is always kind enough to leave us standing in one stance, quite often kiba dachi, long enough for the winds to remind us what time of year it is.
The midday session had us in gi for a mixed lesson of karate basics, combination, ippon kumite and impact conditioning of the arms and body. It’s always mildly amusing to spot a holiday maker who’s heard all the noise start walking towards us for a look only to stop some distance away when they realise what’s actually going on.
Saturday afternoon’s session started off in light drizzle but still no snow. It was held by Sensei Mike Reay who instructed us on the Ju-Jitsu use of Tambo and Yawari (very roughly translated as short stick and small stick). It was an extremely interesting and enjoyable lesson devoted to these very versatile weapons. The high amount of pain, bruising and chokes that can be delivered in just a single two hour lesson meant we all had marks that bore testament to our practical education. I will never again consider confronting Sensei Mike if he’s holding a pencil.
Sensei Prasad decided to compensate for the relatively warm comfort of our training conditions by bringing Sundays first session forward to 5.30am. All of us had good intensions and left the pub uncharacteristically early at around 9.15 but the accommodation we were staying in was isolated away from other people, it had a CD player that didn’t distort much even when set very loud and someone had brought along a box of San Miguel (although I myself obviously only drank Coca Cola and some Tetley tea)
First thing Sunday morning (or was it still Saturday night?) Sensei used the sloping part of the open field to march us up and down. It was definitely a degree or two colder but he worked us harder by a couple of degrees to even things up. We finish off with kata. Starting at a Tai Chi pace as the darkness faded, moving through normal speed as the morning mist cleared and onto “battle speed” as the sun rose.
We only had till 10.30 before the next training started so after a quick bite to eat it was almost time to pull on your muddy gi again and squelch into your still wet trainers for the legendary, make or break trip into the forest….
The following are quotes (noted in secret and taken out of context for an extra comedy factor as per usual) from the weekend to help those who attended remember some of what happened, whether they want to or not.
1. “Hang on! This isn’t Euro Disney!?!?”
2. “Don’t make me mad, Grrrrrr!”
3. “Yes I’ve been to the rim and I’d love to do it again, but sadly I believe it was banned by the authorities sometime soon after I took my wife deep down inside”
4. “Last night? No Sensei, I have no idea what happened on Coronation Street, I was too busy drinking”
5. “That’s not it.. no, still can’t feel it.. hold up! That’s kind of.. Wow! Jesus that hurts!.. Do it again”
6. “Can you hear those ducks? They’re laughing at your kata”
7. “The pink lipstick in the kitchen? I don’t know for sure where it came from but I think it might belong to Sensei Mike”
8. “Gatso camera alert!”
9. “I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t been prepared and my bum was on fire, it couldn’t take it anymore. After three days solid I would have killed for a salad”
Early morning mist
On my count do five single arm press-ups…. Blimey! Err on my count just do one
With the closest pond frozen over, some of the locals decided to amuse themselves by laughing at our kata
Never disrespect a Ju-Jitsu instructor or they remember you during press-ups
Although dedicated to martial arts, they were still rubbish at playing hide and seek
“Back by popular demand and Aving’ it at battle speed!”
Quotes: 1-Colin Baron. 2-Mr.T (in my pocket). 3-Ken Dixon. 4-Darren Egan. 5-Karl Green. 6-Sensei Allan Prasad. 7-Steve Riley. 8-The Sharon. 9-Sensei Mike Reay.
Karl Green can easily be contacted with any complaints that you have been annoyed, taken offence or caused embarrassment by these quotes, you will however be completely ignored and you can rest assured that there are absolutely “NO REFUNDS”