Another year, another set of boot camps. The first, however, was surpisingly different.

First things first: I’ve grown to really enjoy, almost love, the EKK boot camps.

My very first boot camp, as a white belt karateka, was possibly the most shocking. I had attended it after only a few weeks of training at EKK and thought ‘How bad can it be?’… only to find out that my level of fitness, coupled with early morning training sessions without 24 hours between each session, brought reality slamming back to my senses. The next camp was better: I knew what to expect, but was feeling apprehensive about going through all that pain and soreness again. Fortunately, my fitness had improved and I came out of it in better shape than the first.

Years later, boot camp has become something I truly look forward to. Rarely, in the hustle and bustle of daily life (even training four days a week), do you have the chance to focus your mind, body and spirit on your Kyokushin training for 48 hours – pushing yourself to your limits in keeping up with the running, completing your more demanding basics and squad exercises, undertaking your grading tests and kumite and dumping yourself into, the often freezing, Western Port bay. Lord Somers is also a great setting, with a great hall, grass areas and beach frontage. You really feel like you’ve left the city behind and arrived somewhere free of mundane shackles, ready to focus and revisit your Kyokushin training.

The first boot camp of 2012, the EKK Winter boot camp, started with the different, and slightly refreshing, notion that I was not required to grade this time around. I might have been forgiven for thinking this means it would not be as stressful. And, in some ways, I suppose it wasn’t – I didn’t have to be graded at least. All the other training sessions, however, were undertaken just as hard – if not harder.

The most memorable session, which is usually the most gruelling (of which this was no exception), was the Saturday afternoon session. Beginning with a run in the oncoming storm and various exercises on the run back (crab walk, duck walk, backwards run… of which I sprinted in, tripped and slammed into the sand), we were greeted by an amazing and picturesque rainbow. Yes, it even turned into a double rainbow. Hell, it was almost a triple rainbow. After the run, we moved to sand bank that had appeared following low tide. There, we performed basics, in a sun shower, with a massive rainbow overhead and a setting sun, followed by technique work and take downs. What was left was the kumite (fights) for those who were grading. As the sun set, all EKK karateka engaged in spirited kumite until the sun had set and the moon started rising. Under the dwindling light of the sun and the rising full moon, with increasingly wild wind and rain, Sensei and his nidan Sempai put the black tags grading for black belt through their paces. The bouts were intense and full of Kyokushin spirit. After the last bout with Sensei, a huge round of applause under the full moon was given – followed by a mad dash to the water and into the showers. A truly inspiring training session in an picturesque setting, with amazing effort by all involve, that is to be remembered for years to come.

I treated it as a prelude for what is to come in September – my own black belt grading.

And so begins a more serious countdown. I am beginning my final kata (polishing those I have already learnt) and attempting to implement a very real fitness regime. This means more cardio (cycling, running and general training), weights (holy moly… still haven’t implemented this) and a generally healthier lifestyle (this could include become a hermit and removing myself from temptation!).

-Kieran W.

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