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!