2011 Summer Training Camp | Annual General Meeting
Aston Creek, BC
July 29 - August 1, 2011

"Summer Camp" by Richard Barkman

It's the mid-summer weekend of intense training, family fun, making new friends, and for a select group of us, our final test in our Dan grading. We all gather in the beautiful Ashton Creek area close to Enderby, and for 4 days we test our spirit, our knowledge, and our gi's resistance to grass stains. My family and I, arrived midday on Friday to set-up and relax before our first in-hall training Friday night. It was great wandering around the campsite, connecting with friends and meeting new one's, and preparing my mind for the tasks ahead. After a good first training and some spirited fights, we headed back to our sites to catch some sleep before our first 6AM run the next morning. 

Saturday started off with a refreshing morning run, and then continued with one of the toughest components of the weekend: BOOT CAMP! Although it was an intense workout, I think we all realized that we could all have stronger cores with more training. Next we got to do some commando training which is always fun, and then a bit later we all separated into different groups and all of the Dan candidates got together to go over some components of our testing that needed improvement. Everyone stepped up and did what was needed, and between the afternoon and evening Dan classes we covered the areas Shihan set out for us and learned a lot about ourselves and our training. All that was left now was Sunday afternoon, and our kumites! 

We began Sunday much like Saturday, with an early morning run, but changed things up by running in groups of 10 and circulating 4 times through as we ran. It was a good start to the day, made even better thanks to Sensei Dean pointing out a rainbow, which was arched over the valley to start the day. After a few classes in the morning, us Dan candidates met in the hall so that the few of us that still needed to complete the board-breaking component could do so. It was more nerve-wracking sitting on the side and watching as you want so badly for your fellow testers to get through those boards! It was both exciting and heart breaking, as not all were able to do so, but our bonds created through the testing process brought us together, and we did our best to help lift each other up and encourage those unsuccessful to not give up. The final test was approaching, and soon it was upon us! Everyone met in the training hall, and after a few words from Shihan Stuart we began. 4 candidates started us off, and with incredible spirit they made their way through opponent after opponent until their test was done. The energy inside the hall was incredible, and when it was my turn to step-up I was filled with emotion and desire to push through and do well. Things went well for the most part, but I learned a valuable lesson in my fourth fight about keeping my hands up as I was on the receiving end of a great straight punch to the nose! The unfortunate part was that it split my nose open on the inside, and I was instructed to sit on the sidelines until the bleeding had completely stopped. Instantly I thought my quest had fallen short, and that I was not going to receive my belt due to this. So I begged (with tears) the medical help to please make it stop so I could get back in and finish. And the nice lady, through shear will and a lot of pressure to my nose, was able to, and I got back in there for 3 more fights. Most of it was a blur, right up until the last fight, when my good friend and fellow Calgarian Sempai Denis stepped up to fight me. I felt overwhelmed with emotion, but was determined to fight him as hard as I can. Both he and Sensei Tats were yelling words of encouragement to get me through, and faster then I could have imagined, it was over. 

The next bit was sort of a blur, as we were all told to stand in a line and face the front table. And one by one, Shihan made his way down the line of us, and one by one we received our belts. It's hard to put into words what this moment feels like, as you'd have to experience it to know, but all the emotions of a near year's worth of testing, along with the many years of training to get to this moment all flood over you. I was both humbled and relieved to receive my belt, and ready for the next challenge, which incidentally came about 30 minutes later, when all of us new Dans got to teach the group for a few minutes. After all of this, we were treated to an amazing meal put together by Sensei Larry and his great group of helpers. From there, it was relaxation time!! Oh, and a spirited final training Monday morning of course! 

I'd like to thank all the Sensei's and Sempai's, as well as all the fellow camp attendants, for their words of encouragement over the weekend. I would also like to thank both Shihan Stuart and Shihan Don for guiding us through the testing process, and showing us all how we can be better karate-ka and the best Dans possible. A huge thanks to my Calgary crew for the many years of training and support, to fellow candidates Sempai Doug and Sempai Lisa for all the extra training and camaraderie, and to Sensei Brad and Sempai Denis for helping us get here. And to all my fellow Dan candidates, we made it!! OSU! 

Richard Barkman, Calgary Dojo

"The Shodan Experience" by Sherry Bawtinheimer 

So I packed up my bags, Kyokushin gear, & camping equipment with no room to spare in my Hyundai Elantra and set out for the most exciting and nerve racking weekend of my life! Summer camp the final component of the Dan grading process. I had set my mind on the goal of Shodan for the year of 2011. 

As Sensei Dean and I headed to camp, I couldn't help but feel very nervous and anxious anticipating my one block in the road TAMESHIWARI (Board Breaking ). I had already failed to meet the requirement once and I needed to make this happen!!!! I was awake at 3:30 am Saturday visualizing what I had to do. Hit those boards as fast and hard as I could and make sure that something broke hopefully not my bones. Thanks to Sempai Matt Hitchen who came over weekly to hold boards for me with Sensei Dean, this became a reality but not without struggle the board breaking element of my test was over. Thanks Matty and Sensei Dean.... 

Every year that I have been at summer camp training hard and giving it my all, it crossed my mind many times. How do the Dan candidates fight on Sunday? When your body is so sore and tired. Somehow they always manage to pull it off and I am always very impressed by that. Well now it's my turn and I'm tired sore and mentally drained from the last year of training, studying, and conditioning. I KNOW this is NOT going to be easy.

I was nervous about going into the hall to fight. As every year I go into that hall I get very emotional for all the fighters going for Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan. I try not to be overly emotional but that's just the way I am. So I get into the hall and now the nerves are setting in. I watched and cheered on my fellow candidates as they fight and the excitement and energy is building at the end of their tenth fight my emotions are all over the place so I take a deep breath to compose myself as I'm up next. 

Thinking in my mind that I am conditioned and that I trained hard for this, I was very surprised at how hard this really was. I knew it would be hard but Wow was I ever shocked by the way I was feeling. This is seriously hard work. In my ten rounds of sparring I was paired up with some really amazing fighters. Four of which were or are international world tournament fighters. I just want to say thank you so much to all the fighters who participated in my journey to Shodan! I especially want to thank my Sensei, Husband and Best friend Dean for all the support. You had to put up with me through all the sweat, tears and hard training. You went through it with me and we made it! Sensei Dean told me he would never be my tenth fight, but he decided to do it last minute, and for that I am very grateful. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way....

 I can't put into words the feeling you get when you finally reach your goal. Having that black belt tied around your waist is rewarding and intense and a little scary. Now I have a huge responsibly to train hard and help lead other's. This is just the beginning of a life time journey ( Beginners Grade). The first time I put on my new belt I felt the importance and responsibility this belt holds. You can't explain the feeling until you experience it! 

Thank you to everyone for the support and guidance throughout this process I could not have done it without all of you. Thanks Poco Dojo! Thank you Shihan Stuart, Shihan Don, Sensei Larry, and to all the Sensei's , Sempai's and Kohai's. Thank you! And congratulations to all the candidates whether you made it all the way or you are still on your journey. We are on this journey together. 

Osu Sherry Bawtinheimer 

Poco Dojo