More than 40 students of the Candelo Kokoro Kai Goju karate dojo set off for their annual camp recently.
Together with instructors, Shihan Robert Graham, Senseis Graham Cooper and Andy Zarins, Sedoin Sherri Cooper and Sempai Haley Graham.
The group thanked Gary and Sharon Scarlet, who provided a bus and drove the journey, which took hours winding through the Snowy Mountains.
“Camp has been for many years held at Snowy River Camp, Tallangatta Victoria,” a spokeswoman said.
“It is here we meet the Victorian Kokoro Kai Goju Australia practitioners and combine forces for a weekend of instruction and learning.”
The group was also joined by guest instructor Phil Cassidy, a long-time friend of Shihan Graham’s, a fellow Goju karate instructor and also a proficient instructor of Brazilian Jujitsu.
After a welcome dinner, the local dojo students joined with their Victorian counterparts for “karate Olympics” in the dojo.
“This is the traditional annual warm up activity where one foot kumite (sparring) and tug a war get the blood moving and spirits high,” the spokeswoman said. She said it was an exciting prelude to the looming spar sessions and grading the next day.
Many of the adults get up at 5.30am for coffee, then meditate lakeside as the mist burns off in the morning sun.
“The morning's stillness centres us for the day and the ritual practice of our two 'breathing focused' katas shake the final vestiges of sleep from us all,” the spokeswoman said.
From 7am onwards everyone is in full training mode with a surprise lesson in jujitsu this year as well as ‘cane fu’, kokoro kai techniques and kata practice.
Brown and black belts were tested for their gradings on Saturday afternoon with demonstrations of skill, knowledge and stamina to advance. “Grading at this level is not to be taken lightly as one's role in supervising and teaching those of lower rank is intensifying,” the spokeswoman said. Everyone enjoyed a night of frivolity on Saturday with ‘Red Faces’ themed entertainment, then Sunday began with another lakeside kata session before breakfast and two final training sessions.