New England Warrior Camp 2009: My humble report

nitflegal

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Well, since people seem to have liked my previous Warrior Camp and Seminar reports, I figured I'd write one up for this event as well!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with NEWC, it is a three day training event held at a Boyscout Camp in central Mass that gathers instructors from all over New England to beat the cra. . . um, train us in an outdoor setting. :boing2: Shidoshi Ken Savage has been putting this huge endeavor together for 12 years now and it's a heck of an event, rain or shine.

Friday
So, I checked in at 4ish with my sleeping bag, training tools, and bags of Smart Food. Got settled in my cabin, dropped my stuff off, and reported to the covered pavillion (think large wooden platform with low walls, a roof, and very hard wooden floors. . . LOL)
5 PM, training in Shinden Fudo Ryu dakentaijutsu with Shidoshi Ken Savage. We spent a lot of time going over the unique punching of the school as well as how to redirect/block the punch and control the attacker as we came back in. For those who were watching carefully, Ken was demonstrating the walking methods from the school as well. As always, Ken spent a lot of time breaking the concepts down and explaining why you moved in a certain way, how it would disrupt your opponent and so forth. Lots of background info on the SFR that you don't get in books or on youtube. A lot of fun, energy was high, and nobody smashed into each other too badly! Then a break until the opening at the fire circle
8 PM Fire circle. Yes, I was the dipstick who forgot to turn off my camera flash, I admit it. We were introduced to the instructors and got a background on what led Ken to put together the camp. Then off to a large field in the forest for training.
~9-11 PM Training with Shidoshi Mark Davis. Since we were training in a field, in a forest, by only moonlight, we spent a fair amount of time going over how to disrupt ones shape and movement to mess with the opponent. Here we got to see one of Shidoshi Davis's real strengths, which is how to use psychology in a fight to lead the attacker where you want them. he can really break it down so the application makes sense, which is enormously helpful. Plus he just moves so bloody easily where the uke just looks screwed from the get-go. Total control of the uke and he can actually explain both mechanically and psychologically how it works. Again, great training.
Then, crawl into bed and hope it wouldn't rain.

Saturday
Must work on my weather control better, as it was raining. However, that's kind of the point to work with the elements, so off to Gyo training with Ken Savage
7:30 AM. Whee, excercise time. I like that the PT-style training is designed to mimic the taijutsu so you are training while you exercise. Drop squats were great fun and we did Sanshin at warp 20 or so. :lool: It was good training and got the body moving for the rest of the day.
9 AM Breakfast. I'll fill this in at the end. Suffice to say it was hot and plentiful and stoked the furnace.
10:30 2 hours of further training with Shidoshi Mark Davis. A bunch of work on how to capture the energy of your opponent and use it. Jutai- and dakentaijutsu and it was very good. Not much to add, you had to be there.
1 PM, Lunch
2:30 Breakout sessions. I selected Shidoshi Paul Etherington. I had an absolute blast, even though I seriously sucked at what we were doing! However, I walked away with a much better understanding of two concepts I've been struggling with; the second being how to counter a throw by letting the opponent actually win. It finally clicked that I was still trying to counter to early before the opponent thought I'd missed my chance. I thought he was very patient and yet got his points across quickly. Really well done and I learned a lot and have a lot to bring home to my dojo and work on. The concepts should have a much wider application than just the techniques and even schools we worked on. Hope he's back next year.
5 Pm Dinner
6 PM Tameshigiri with Shidoshi Matt Venier. What can I say, after studying Toyama and Yagyu ryu I love me my swords. I had huge fun, my cuts were pretty decent and Matt Venier makes outstanding functional swords. We got to use his and I'd put his up for balance and liveliness with anything you're going to get out of Bugei etc. Easily. You can tell he uses them as much as makes them and I will have one some day. Everyone seemed to have fun and when people were struggling he swept right in and worked them through it. The atmosphere was respectful but fun.
8 PM, lecture on budo at the fire circle and prep for the night exercise.
9 -12 PM Night exercises. Okay, this is why you come to Warrior Camp. How about two+ hours of exercises on silently creeping, using the two C's and 7 S's of remaning undetected, and large scale exercises with instructors who had 10+ years with soke and Hayes and the senior Japanese instructors back when it was Ninpo taijutsu. It was very well put together and obviously involved a lot of effort from the volunteer instructors. I've done these exercises outside in groups of 2-3 or in the dojo, but groups of 20 in the woods after a rainfall? Completely different. the best part was the instructors made time to analyze what worked, what didn't how to use shadow, etc. I honestly think I learned more application in those 3 hours than I have in God knows how many hours of dojo work. If you want to learn this stuff, you should have been here. Simple as that.

I'll finish Sunday's write-up later this evening.

Matt
 
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nitflegal

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Sunday
Up at 7:30 for Gyo with Shidoshi Savage. Some exercises with a staff and then a brisk climb up the mountain. A little slippery, a little strenuous, a lot of fun and a great view. At the top, we spent about 10 minutes doing an active meditation drill, which was suprisingly energizing. Then hiked back down and around the camp. I have to admit, I felt like my batteries were full to bursting after that so instead of going right to breakfast I hiked around the whole area trauils for 45 minutes or so at a fast pace. Felt really good.
9 AM, Breakfast (OK, I got there around 9:30)

10:30 2 hours of training with Shidoshi Leon Drucker on Yari and using the Kihon Happo for ground fighting. This was awesome. I did the kenjutsu breakout in '08 with him and no way was I missing one of his breakouts. I'm 39 and he's been training in grappling and ground fighting for longer than I've been alive. The Yari stuff was great and I get a lot out of his focus on using angles to best position yourself for both defense and offense. The ground-fighting was fun simply because it is not one of my natural strengths and he and his students are very good at taking your technique apart quickly and showing you how to put it together quickly.

1 PM, lunch
2:30-4:30 Final training with Shidoshi Mark Davis. OK, this one was interesting. To be blunt, I think everyone attending was starting to get tired, so we were a tough group for Mark. So, we spent an hour going over countless repetitions of simply turning a punch back around to fold on the attacker. Me and my training partner spent the hour doing that one move and kinda wondering when he was going to do something with it. However, we were tired, it was relaxing, and so we kept doing it. You'd think I'd have more faith in Shidoshi Davis by this point but I can be an idiot. So the second hour he comes over to all of the groups individually and shows the applications. Two things. First, guess what, by doing it for an hour we were fluid and practiced and the application just clicked immediately. Yeah, OK, he knows how to teach based on the energy level of he students and is much smarter than me. That's why he's the senior guy around here, right? Second, where I think he excels is he can take a really subtle combination of positioning and body mechanics, then walk over and in 1-2 minutes break it down so that it totally makes sense, in this case by simply taking the attackers energy. The concept clicked for everyone around me and we were then able to riff on applications of it all over the place. 90+ people and we all suddenly got a pretty subtle concept. That's a gifted teacher.

4:30 Ken had exiting remarks, thanked the instructors and assistants, and sent us on our merry way to hot showers, ibuprofen, and bed.

Additional thoughts. First, all of us there owe a big debt to the instructors and assistants. These guys made this work, put in a lot more time than we did, and did it to help us all learn some unique stuff. Those exercises didn't just happen, while we were taking some break time they were off setting up courses, prepping for drills, and the like. They had ukes who got whaled on for us to see those techniques.

Second, We all owe Ken Savage a huge thank you. it's not just the prep time for the class (he cleans the cabins, dining hall, even the freakin' latrines before camp for us) but when we're dragging our butts out of bed for gyo he's up there long before we do to get ready and walk the area and he went to bed way later than us. When we're driving home he's cleaning out the cabins and locking everything away for a day or so. He's putting in lots of time to make this event what it is. I know he couldn't do it without the great volunteers and instructors he gets but still, talk about a labor of love. One aside, because Ken's too nice to say anything (I'm not). Next year all of us in the cabins and camping areas should ID someone to stay a little later and police their grounds. I tried to police up my lodge (as did several others) but I still feel bad not taking the trash bags down at the end. If we leave detritus or refuse behind Ken's going to drag his butt up and clean up our mess. That ain't right. So endeth the sermon.

Next, the food. It was plentiful, hot, and while there was a shocking lack of brie or Foie gras it was decent chow food. More importantly, allow me a personal account. I have a gluten allergy pretty bad (diagnosed this year). I get a couple of crumbs of bread (no exageration) in my food and I will be very unhappy for a couple of days. The cook, his wife, and two assistants were as careful as careful could be to make me my own food and keep it uncontaminated. They did the same for the vegetarians. Put it this way, I had five meals there with nary a tummy rumble. I haven't gone five visits to a restraunt without getting ill, and I'm talking 4-star, guaranteed gluten-free, drop a c bill for dinner for two places. That crew took care of me and that meant a lot. The cook's a bit gruff and he's a character, but damn if he doesn't care.

Finally, Warrior Camp is as much a social event as it is training, with decent gaps to talk with people you might not have seen for a year. It is great to see old friends, make some new ones, and people there are just low key and friendly. Sure, we all had testosterone poisoning that kept us doing drop squats in the pouring rain, but none of that chest-thumping clanning crap so prevalent in the Bujinkan these days. It's a good atmosphere, it really is.

So overall, for $215 you get three days of training with the best teachers in the North-East, meals, and lodging. Seriously, how do you beat that?

Matt
 

savagek

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Hello all,

Matt,

Thanks so much for the kind words and your continued interest and support of New England Warrior Camp. In the spirit of full disclosure Matt is my student at the Winchendon Martial Arts Center/ Bujinkan Savage Dojo however I did not prompt him to write this glowing endorsement.

One thing I might add to your report is the cool t-shirt and commemorative certificate.

Its my pleasure and sometimes pain to host this event each year. I was charged with giving something back to the training upon completion of my Godan test in 1997. I do it because I promissed Soke I would.

If your interested in New England Warrior Camp please check us out at: www.winmartialarts.com

Thanks to all the campers, teachers, and support staff who supported New England Warrior Camp 2009 "12 Years on the path".

Be well and Gassho,

Ken Savage
Bujinkan Shidoshi
Owner & Director The Winchendon Martial Arst Center/ Bujinkan Savage Dojo
Owner & Director New England Warrior Camp
 

MJS

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Sounds like an awesome time! Thanks for the write up! :)
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Sounds like a great time!
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nitflegal

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It was a lot of fun. Plus, I got to train with shidoshi and students I would have never met otherwise. Mind you, I kind of feel like I spent a cycle in a tumble drier. . . Course, I also note my ukemi gets better in direct proportion to how pooped I am.

I will say I learned two other important things. 6 extra pair of socks sounds like a lot. It is not when it rains for a day! Two, the guy who brought a cheap hair drier was a genius. 5 minutes with it shoved down each shoe and his were bone dry! I will remember that if the forecast says any rain next year.

Can we have a kenjutsu theme next year? :wavey:

Matt
 

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