The biggest event of the year for the United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance is the Summer Camp at the Headquarters dojo. I attended the U.R.K.A. Summer Camp for the first time in 2002 and I was totally impressed. Here are my top five favorite things about it.
U.R.K.A. Summer Camp and Camaraderie
The people, the brotherhood and sisterhood and all of the positive support inspired me. Especially at my first camp. I had never experienced anything like it before, definitely not in the martial arts. All of the many local karateka as well as those from other states and other countries reached out in friendship. We all had something in common to talk about, and that broke the ice. That often led to me learning more about the other Alliance attendees and what they enjoyed outside of the dojo.
Skill Represented at U.R.K.A. Summer Camp
At camp, I was surrounded by a lot of down-to-earth, just plain good folk. That led to me next favorite thing about U.R.K.A. Summer Camp. Our host was a plain, average, nearly middle-aged man. He was a nice, honorable guy. When he demonstrated his jo kata, he moved with a fluidity and balance, a speed and agility that I had never seen in a kata before. I was honestly shocked at his level of skill. There is no lacking in skill for Alliance members who spend time training in their art and apply the core principles.
Another of my early U.R.K.A. favorites involved seeing and spending time in the beautiful headquarters dojo, which was specially designed for its purpose by Allan Amor Kaicho. To me, the set up and decorations are well-put-together and straight forward. I don’t remember if I had this impression on my first visit, but over the years it has become a calming place for me. Also, the property outside of the dojo building has plenty of greenery, with trees, plants and flowers. Since I am from the dessert, I love visiting the lush country environment.
Agility Training at U.R.K.A. Summer Camp
This was more of a challenge than a favorite at my first camp. But over time, I have come to appreciate training on uneven, unfamiliar ground. The headquarters dojo has large country lawns. But they are not smooth, even golf courses like our rare expansive lawns in Arizona. Country lawns have dips and divots, hills and swells. We get to train outside during camp. That helps us to better prepare for moving with improved speed and better agility in a variety of uneven environments.
Connecting at U.R.K.A. Summer Camp
This was visually demonstrated to me at my first camp, when the established black belts invited us newbies to accept a leadership role in the alliance. One of my favorite and maybe the most important part of attending the U.R.K.A. Summer Camp is connecting with the bigger picture. You see that you, and your dojo, are just a part of a much bigger organization. You have their support. And you support them in turn as you all walk together on the path of traditional Okinawan karate. That includes our common interest of promoting this art that benefits each of us. It helps us each to make ourselves into better martial artists and better human beings.
If you train in the traditional martial arts, I highly recommend attending the annual U.R.K.A. Summer Camp. You can also read about my favorite summer camp memories here.