Summer camp and how hot it is!

Each year in August when it is hot and in February when it less hot the PMA gathers for the annual geiko or training camps. We immerse ourselves in karate-do for three to four days. Lots of workouts, new material, guest teachers, academic seminars, bonding and great food. This year was the 39th summer camp in a row and that in itself speaks of tradition. Over 5000 participants to the many camps have taken part over the years.

This year we stayed at Mt. Empire High School near Campo and close to Mexico. We rented out the school so we used the gym, wrestling room, classrooms and dining hall. Students slept on the floor. During the day it was 95 degrees hot. Food was sit down formal and served by our own waiters (students) and it was good. Every meal had four plates… a salad, an entree of meat and side dishes, often a soup, and of course dessert! Our chief cook Claudia Kaminski once again rose to the occasion with food variations from Irish stew, fish talapia, intricate salads and more. The power breakfasts of chia-oatmeal and fruits along with the eggs to order were great.

Guest teachers were Master Terry Wilson who taught jujitsu body harmony moves and Sensei Rob McDonough who taught the most energetic of traditional karate sparring drills. Fifteen black belts from the PMA also taught individual karate sessions, weapons classes and academic seminars. There was even an early morning tea ceremony by Peggy Teng and meditation walk by Robert Graff.

Students seemed to really enjoy the Sunday team bonding event where three different groups each did a semi studs class with lots of pushups, running up and down stadium stairs, crawling and rolling on the football field and karate kicks to challenge everyone.

What was encouraging was seeing the fifteen juniors aged 10 to 12 keep up with the seniors in so many of the classes and with no giving up.

Master Devine Beck Black Sensei took about 15 students on a side trip to the train museum in Campo where students got to travel on an old 80 year old train through the desert scenery. Although it moved slowly, it rocked and rolled, open windows and hard benches. Then they visited the indoor museum with several beautifully kept steam engine locomotives, Pullman cars and more.

It is said that black belts are born at the camp. It is where by immersion you commit to lots of training, insight into the art, learn to bond with others in the group, and get the equivalent of about a month’s regular training to accelerate your own progress. I cannot wait until next February when we do our 40th winter camp …. it is called Kangeiko meaning training in the coldest part of winter. This next location will possibly have some snow!

Tournament Season is now over!

PMA Irvine teamWhen the PMA is present at many of the big open tournaments, we are often refreshingly referred to as the ‘tree people’ because our crest has the pine tree and we are always unique in our good protocol and courtesy and performances.

PMA just finished the two final events of the season. One was the national AAU championships in Raleigh, NC. Our trio spent a week there with Margaret entering seven different black belt events and coming away with several silver medals and other good performances. There were close to thirty top female athletes competing. The highlight though was the work of her, Heather Graves and Michael Kaminski doing the coaching clinics and earning high certificate ranks in the professional referees clinics. They all spent long days refereeing with Mr. Kaminski gaining an A level and running some of the top rings in black belt competition. In addition to this, the trio spent many hours behind the scenes helping organizers set up minute things such as tables, ribbons, signs and what ever it takes to present a top venue for 1500 competitors.

The other major event was the first ever West Coast AAU junior Olympics for the 18 and PMA Irvine teamunder top performers. There were lots of top juniors from all over California who gathered in Whittier for the event. Our team did very well and took numerous medals as brown belts. They did not win the gold but that is for next time. This young team has a great competition future ahead of them next season if they continue with their enthusiasm and effort. Sincere thanks to Michael Kaminski, Heather Graves and Margaret Izotov for the coaching at the event and also for literally being so important in running the tournament and refereeing. It is nice for me to see you getting this recognition from the top AAU officials. Team members this year are Elias Malouf, Eli Morris, David Chell, Ethan Diep, Rohan Shinkre and Aarya Mishra.

Master Devine attended this tournament and was pleased with the efficiency of the event and the high caliber of the students performing. Times have changed over the years and the sparring was very run well and controlled. Safety and non contact were on the minds of the referees which was good to see. Mr. Alfonso Gomez of San Diego was the chief director of the event that was well attended by some top teachers from the karate community. James Tawatao came all the way from Las Vegas in support. Sensei Cigar was the host sponsor for this event.