A weekend right at the start of January this year saw me scurrying back home late Friday afternoon from work in order to quickly throw together all the necessary items and then take to the coastal road in a fair rush in order to reach Betty’s Bay, Mooihawens campsite by 19:30. Why? Well this was to be the weekend of “Camp Edwin”, Funakoshi Karate International South Africa’s first ever karate camp since having broken away from Funakoshi South Africa literally a month or three ago!
Although not a hard-working karate gashuku that most people are quite familar with already, the camp was still designed with karate in mind and had thus been set up to maximise lessons surrounding the concepts behind karate but lessons not necessarily delivered through karate sessions alone. Indeed, each of the current senior black belt students were tasked with coming up with a particular bit of knowledge and then a particular way to demonstrate and pass on this nugget of information, leading to quite a few rather surprising sessions indeed! :)
From your standard karate kata and basics sessions you found us over the course of the weekend taking part in classes that included things like reflexology, origami, Japanese karate terminology bingo, communication, broken telephone in mime mode, knife and gun disarmament training and of course the infamous beach training which of course is always tougher than what you can imagine thanks to the giving sand (and the fact we first needed to clear a huge swathe of beach from all the seaweed and muck before we could actually train there!)
Apart from the copious amount of aggressive volleyball games played, one of the methods of injecting some fun and trying to open up communication between all the attendees was to assign everyone a brightly painted red egg at the start of the weekend, each tasked with naming the egg and protecting it from harm, meaning that this poor raw egg was to accompany you EVERYWHERE, lest someone spirit it away and replace it with a rock when you weren’t looking. Of course, the other requirement was that you were to learn the names and personalities of every other egg spending the weekend there with you, meaning an additional task in memory and communication – which surprisingly one lady actually managed to win by correctly identifying each and every attendee’s egg’s name come the end of the weekend! Needless to say, most of us couldn’t get past 5 or 6!
Oh and as and added incentive to look after your egg, if you lost it and you got caught out, it was the “bum dance” for you, which basically had you humiliate yourself by bending over and writing your name by wiggling your bum in front of the rest of the group. Needless to say, my egg was in fact kidnapped during the course of the weekend and as such I did a bum dance – though that said my egg was promptly returned and I never needed to do another one again. Not exactly sure what that says about my ass in the air then! :P
I must admit, this sort of more informal karate camp was something I have yet to experience and one of the factors that surprised me the most of the whole event was the quality of food that we received. Now normally these kind of things serve up dry hotdogs and some cold cereal for breakfast but this particular camp saw us literally eating like kings, with proper full on braais in the evenings, pancakes and what not for breakfast and even cold meats like chicken for lunch! Heck, we even had french toast if I remember correctly! :)
Because such a large number of the people making up the Gordon’s Bay dojo are in family units, i.e. mom, dad and kids all doing karate, a lot of the families hired out some of the chalets that were in offer while the rest of us found ourselves bedding down in dormitory style rooms, complete with creaky bunk beds and everything that comes with sleeping in dorms – particularly for the kids if you know what I mean – don’t think they got a stitch of sleep during night one!
Blessed with fantastic, sun-drenched weather and a fantastic vibe, we all got through the training and classes with a lot of good humour and smiles all around, and while sharing a beer around the fire late at night, Camp Edwin proved an absolute success in strengthening Funakoshi International South Africa’s core and more importantly fostering that all important sense of family that is so critical for a small dojo like ours to keep functioning smoothly and ensure that together we take our art even further than what we might ourselves imagine impossible.