Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Great training week end

Great training week end
                This week end I had the honor and the privilege to train again with Saeki Sensei of Ottawa Canada in Saskatoon Saskatchewan….I have never been to Saskatoon but it is a beautiful city and the training was good, food was great, city…while a bit confusing…fantastic and pretty, and the people…well top notch and I have to Say Brad Barnes is one heck of a guy!
                It was kind of funny because you often learn things you don’t expect to learn and some lessons that you thought you knew are presented to you all over again in new ways. Keeping in mind I still have a injury to my hip and cant, or rather probably should not kick with my left leg and may stability is shot when it acts up..and I have an obvious limp…Just had minor surgery and had stomach issues the whole time I was out their…but damn it I am not dead and I gave it all I could! It was great fun.
                One of the terrifying things that tends to happen at these camps is you meet new people. I say terrifying because as a quasi-introvert I hate being in strange places with people I do not know…but this time it was very much different, we had met once before and to be frank the plethora of new people I met…were like family in seconds.  I met a brown belt that had trained with Jeff Speakman and the guy (not Jeff) was super friendly. I met a actual Viking…well that’s his nick name, who was so funny and just a fantastic guy. I met a few ‘old friends’ and Brads wife, a lovely warrior of a lady!  Also I met more of the students from Saskatoon and each and every one of them were fantastic!
                They treated us like kings, we ate at great restaurants…one Pho restaurant has me hooked on Pho now and to be frank its going to be hard not to want to zip back and eat their again! And the highlight of one of our work outs was after the work out Henri, one of the incredible brown belts, did an Iaido demonstration that really impressed me and made my day….I love sharp cutty swords! And his son helped him out, it was another fantastic day.
                We hung out with “Tank” or Henry and the rest of the crew and just being around such great people made my week end…never mind that we had hours and hours of training with one of the BEST instructors in North America…hands down and bar NONE Saeki Sensei is one of the very best and even the way he teaches juniors amazes me! Truly a gentleman and a fantastic person.
                Sometimes however you get lessons that are not even those that the instructor is teaching. This time it was a big lesson for me in humility. I was really hurting one day, lots of training…bad stomach cramping and  sore hip really put the damper on my normal Kamakazi style that lead to my moto “I aint dead yet” but this time…it was more like “I am still upright” and I wanted in on the fun. I was bouncing from one senior to the next, I did drills and some light Kumite with several of the instructors and seniors, including Brad and some of his black belts.But on one rotation I was looking around and I saw this white belt, a shy girl that was just kind of hiding near the seniors that were all paired up.
I noted one of the seniors had a chance to work with her but literally walked right past her and grabbed a black belt to train with.  It did not shock her and I don’t think she expected to train with an actual instructor at this event, I mean specifically this guy. The senior in question kind of had an attitude issue that reminded me of one of my seniors, but this guy was not even close to being technically…well good. The guy had previously been spewing on about how he was able to fix techniques with people..blah blah blah…and here he was not training with a little girl (I say little more like young, she is probably about my size) and then bragging about how good an instructor he is.
I pulled a James and figured screw it I want to work with her…and really, most fun I had that day. What a doll of a girl! And Saeki Sensei noticed the other senior as well and then came over to make the girl feel better too.  Not only did it prove that Saeki Sensei is a fantastic person…it proved to me that some people, when given rank….just get a big head!
 I also saw the way Brad treats his students. Not a single one is NOT family! He has closer students than others, some he probably see as just friends who happen to train with him, but he treats his students like family and it shows. While his style is not yet JKA and the group of them have been training in a style similar to ours, they have a great coach and Sensei in him and I am sure that he will bring them to the JKA system with the caring hands he showed at camp. And he did this while losing his head trying to arrange things and meet with his incredible staff to ensure everything was perfect.
Another thing I saw in Brad that I totally respect was the amount of work that he does is not ever something he brags about. He coordinates not only a Dojo…well kind of a set of Dojos’ but trust me go train their and figure it out for yourself…but he also coordinates school programs like a mad man. Yes he has tones of help, but he has been working to join the JKA for a while and not once has any of his work been public knowledge for him to brag about…just working doing all this and coordinating with his staff…who are equally hard working and the whole time…he simply tells me its all them…but I know better!
He also does something I have rarely seen in instructors and something I try and do as often as I can and will continue to do, he gives his team a pat on the back as much as possible.  At a major event were Saeki Sensei is brought in to teach, many different groups are brought in to train, the lunches and scheduling, dealing with the schools, Children, adults and families….Brad took the time to thank his team…and not just in a “Thanks team” way but individually. It was really cool of him and again shows his passion for Karate! 
Now, the Karate training was top shelf for sure! I mean Saeki Sensei is one of the best for sure! And the classes….well I think Brad hates us all. First day was a two hour training session with half for junior stuff then half for senior stuff…then a second one in the afternoon. THEN the afternoon was a three hour session with half for juniors half for seniors….and the next day….two hour general session to start and then a two hour session in the after noon. The fun note….Saeki Sensei went over each class and we ended up with about 7- 8 hours of training each day.
Saeki Sensei of course leaves a very good impression every seminar and even when he is asking you to do your best and then a tad bit more you want to do that for him because he teaches without ego and shows you how to do things not just barking orders. His classes show his absolute knowledge of Karate and its amazing.  And he is so good with students that you just want him back!
What a great week end of training, next time I will be in better shape to have an even better time!

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