I unexpectedly saw one of our black belts at the beginning of summer and our conversation turned toward Summer Camp. We naturally spoke of our travel experiences to headquarters, both recent and in years past. We have been fortunate – or as some people put it, we have made the sacrifice – to attend so many United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance camps. Summer Camp is always the biggest U.R.K.A. gathering in the U.S. All ranks come from all over the world, some of them to test for black belt.
FIRST SUMMER CAMP IMPRESSION
I will never forget my first Summer Camp impression. This was an apex in my martial arts training path. Over 100 practitioners attended that weekend of training, and a good half of them held the rank of black belt. That alone would have been an experience to remember. But I was welcomed with greetings, introductions and friendly conversations from too many people to remember. The philosophy of “human beings first and martial artists second” lived and acted. Add to the impression the strong, seemingly effortless skill of the black belts who demonstrated.
BO BREAKING AT SUMMER CAMP DEMO
Kaicho had several black belts demonstrate the weapons kata they would teach. Brian Norris Shihan did his bo kata, and quite a ways through it, he did a strike so powerfully that the bo broke into two pieces. The exclamations from the audience, especially the kids, filled the room. So many people – just about all the children at that summer camp – signed up to take Norris Sensei’s bo seminar that he had the biggest group by far.
SENDING OFF AN ARROW AT SUMMER CAMP
Fred Neuman Kyoshi spends quite a bit of time training in traditional Japanese archery. The Summer Camp after Oyata Sensei passed away, Mr. Neuman performed a touching archery send-off ceremony. We gathered outside in the beautiful weather. In full traditional dress, Neuman Kyoshi sent an arrow off to its target, symbolizing Oyata Sensei going off on his new journey.
SPECIAL SEMINAR AFTER CAMP
Albert Geraldi Hanshi is the head of Zenkoku Ryukyu Kempo Renmei. He has been a high-ranking guest at Summer Camp, and once offered a special after-camp-seminar to Senseis and higher rank black belts. We filled the dojo and he wanted to see our 12 base katas. It was quite an experience. Geraldi Hanshi said that we all had the katas down very close to how Shigeru Nakamura Sensei taught them. We always enjoy the presence of our special guests.
RAIN, MUD & WHITE SUMMER CAMP T-SHIRTS
One year Kaicho provided us with special, custom white Summer Camp t-shirts. We looked sharp, serious and pristine for photographs in traditional colors, with our white and black camp uniforms. Then the rain started. And it kept pouring down. Most of the attendees were outside training, and the downpour brought welcome relief to the humid Missouri day. So they kept training. In wet, white t-shirts. Some of the groups trained in the mud. We could tell when they came in who had been standing in front of others practicing kicks, because they had spots of mud flung onto their backs. I’ll just say I will never forget the rain and the white t-shirts.
What is your favorite U.R.K.A. Summer Camp memory?