2012 Annual ITTA Winter Camp
There was a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air as over 60 Toogee Taekwondo members from multiple regions arrived for the 2012 ITTA Annual Winter Camp. We rock up at about 5pm on Friday afternoon, after a little shuffling and interpretation of Regional Instructor Michael’s sleeping arrangements we found our beds and met our roommates.
Dinner certainly proved that we were not going to get normally camp food; it was delicious and the portions were extremely generous, a trend that continued all weekend. Soon after dinner we settled down for an all grades open forum. Around the room for brief introductions, then open slather with questions. Many of them for Master Frost about his experiences and one for all the Black Belts, “What was the worst injury you’ve had doing Taekwondo?” It was soon discovered that with nearly 50 Dans in the room there were very few serious TKD related injuries. And almost all of them were due to incorrect technique, reinforcing the importance of listening to your instructors and practising good techniques. The coloured belts were excused and the Black Belts were left to have their open forum. First on the agenda was an ITTA fashion show of all the new ITTA clothing, modelled by none other than Regional Instructor Michael Omay. On display were beanies, jackets, hats, vests and many great new merchandise items and clothing to keep us warm in winter and looking the part through summer.
7am Saturday morning was the first training session of camp for the Black Belts to get in the 1st Dan Patterns with Master Frost before breakfast. Valuable time spent with our Master Instructor, and all Black Belts will tell you, you never stop learning.
After breakfast it was time to warm up, “jogging around the hall” was a call we are all used to but that’s where the normality ended. Soon enough we were tumbling, leopard crawling and dive rolling across the mats on our way around. There were lots of laughs and we were all very warm by the end. Soon after the Black Belts disappeared to continue practising their patterns while Master Frost took the coloured belts through their patterns.
Once everyone had been through their patterns it was time for the first of our “activity” session. No one really knew what we were in for as 1st Dan Kell Thoburn took us through some team work activities. Squeezing through hoola-hoops proved a very amusing spectators sport and piecing together puzzles resulted in team burpees. Rob the nest started out very controlled but once the nest theft began so did the defensive conduct. With a room full of martial art student and black belts, it was never gone to remain non-contact. Regional Instructor Michael had a glint in his eye, which could only mean one thing; we were about to do something crazy. Dive rolling through hoola-hoops and handstand push ups ensured we had lots of laughs and enjoyed our team work and bonding time.
Step sparring was a little different to what we expected. Master Frost gathered us all around speaking at length and demonstrating the importance of distance and timing, in relation to counter attacks. We spent time practising blocks and counter attacks that came naturally, recognising targets and using momentum.
After lunch it was time for self-defence. Regional Instructor Michael Omay and Branch Instructor Michael Tait lead us through a sequence of techniques working our way up in complexity including break-falls and the safest ways to get back to our feet. This rolled into the much anticipated grappling and ground work. Many of us performed very intriguing impersonations of upside down turtles, but we learnt a very valuable lesson about defending ourselves and counterattack from the ground.
Activity session last thing on Saturday afternoon called for more team work and light hearted fun. Moving through invisible mazes silently proved difficult for some. While leaping from large islands through to one tiny island the size of a single floor mat square meant human sacrifices had to be made. Not everyone would fit on the safe island, many smaller students were on shoulders of the adults and others balancing with only one foot on the island. This activity was very popular amongst those who participated, requiring strong team work and communication.
You’d be forgiven for assuming dinner would be the end of a long tiring day. But it was just never going to be that way with Regional Instructor Michael Omay in the lodge and a pile of floor mats. Yep you guessed there was plenty of time for a grappling tournament for bragging rights. Everyone had a great time weather they were having a “roll” or just watching the evening’s entertainment.
Sunday morning and the human alarm clocks went off early in the coloured belts lodge. With Branch Instructor Mark Styles and Instructor Brendan Lees waking everyone up to make sure they’d all be ready for the day ahead. It was unfortunate for the students that it was an hour and a half before they actually had to be at the hall. After they’d finished with the students Branch Instructor Mark Styles and Instructor Brendan Lees set their sights on the Black Belts lodge. With the majority of Black Belts now operating on an average of about 4-5 hours’ sleep, after 10 hours of training the day before, meant they were not greeted kindly at each bedroom door. Soon enough everyone was up, though not necessarily awake, and ready for the 6:30am meditation session. Learning to breathe properly is extremely important for stamina and focus, and generally sounds easy. But not so much when you introduce fatigue, apparently meditation does mean nap time.
Now that we could all breathe it was time for a run along the lakeside. While Road Runner himself Instructor Grant Robertson took the faster runners for a longer run, the more subdued 1St Dan John Darcy took the slow, old or injured for a light jog. All the while our 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dan’s enjoyed some valuable instruction through their patterns with Master Frost.
After breakfast was a frenzy of kicking bags, high flying, break techniques and most importantly lots and lots of fun in preparation for the afternoon to come. Some learnt they are capable jumping higher and further than they ever thought, others were reminded they are still human. Leaping over a tower of mats and pads made for some amazing photo opportunities, as did some of the less fortunate landings. A little ITTA trivia before lunch meant everyone learnt something new, with the most surprising answer being the number of years Master Frost’s Grandfather went undefeated as a bareknuckle fighter. For those who didn’t know the answer is 40.
After lunch the technical destruction began and almost everyone attempted break. For some it was their first attempt, others it was their first success, while many were trying out a new technique or attempting a personal best. A few of the most memorable were 6 y/o 5th grade Griffin Dunn’s flying sidekick over 3 children, Junior Belt Black Brodyn Hungerford’s flying side kick over 7 children, Brown Belt Kimberley Munro’s elbow strike through two boards, and Regional Instructor Michael Omay smashing 6 boards with a stepping side kick. Of course no technical destruction session would be complete without a couple of good head butt attempts. Apparently because “Regional Instructor Michael Omay said he could” was all the encouragement Green Belt Ben Julien needed to smash two tiles this way. And Regional Instructor Michael Omay couldn’t resist creating a new PB of 5 tiles with his head.
Finally camp was drawing to a close but there was one last memorable moment for 2012 Winter Camp, as Blue Belt Koji Watanabe was presented with his Brown Belt by Master Frost only a few weeks before he returns home to Japan. Congratulations Koji!
Well done to everyone who attended the 2012 ITTA Winter Camp, it will remain a memorable camp for everyone who attended, and many are already excited about doing it all again in 2013.