Kung fu camp, 19th May

This was the first of Dave’s summer camps in Kent this year, and we began by ‘calming down’ after coming from the stress of London. This meant standing in the greater meditation position, which is hard as you need to concentrate on something other than the pain in your shoulders. But it did work. We all calmed down, and by then it was time for tea and pastries.

After about twenty minutes, we got started again and this time we practised breathing techniques, designed to make our strikes that much stronger. Again, easier said than done, but that’s the story of kung fu. We all know that if something is difficult, it’s more worthwhile. (Besides, if these things were easy, said Dave, everyone would be doing them, and we can’t have that.)

We then went on to do some soft style. A few people who didn’t know any of the pattern got to learn the first four moves, and the rest of us went through the first 18, bearing in mind what we’d been doing all morning. After more tea and pastries (the pastries became mildly famous as there were so many to get through – we made the sacrifice and did our best), we started practising our hard-style patterns, again bearing in mind what we’d been taught in the morning.

Although we’d been sustaining ourselves and replenishing our energy with the famous pastries, it was a relief when Dolan, who had been slaving over a hot stove, announced that lunch was ready. Yippee! A strange feeling came over me as we sat down outside to eat. Those who know me will know that I was a long-term vegetarian, and at Dave’s previous camp back in September, I ate meat for the first time in more than 21 years. This time, there were a couple of vegetarians and I realised what it must have looked like when I didn’t join in the feast, and how much I’d been missing out on. The food was divine. There really is no other word that adequately describes it. After two helpings, I was completely full, so it was good to do more soft style afterwards instead of going straight into hard style. And for the last part of the day, those of us who had patterns to practise did so, and those who didn’t know first pattern were taught the first few moves. It was an odd feeling, practising barefoot on the grass, as turning in fourth proved to be something of a challenge, but it gave me food for thought for when I practise at home.

So then Dave took questions about what we’d learnt today (and one of my observations earned me the remark, ‘You’re such a hippy, Dawn’ – well, of course I am) before we made sure we’d cleared everything up. Quite a few of us then went to the local Co-op to get drinks to take back to Dave’s place, where we carried on talking about kung fu (of course) and then Kristina tried to arrange taxis for those of us who needed to get to the train station. A couple of unsuccessful tries and eventually, she managed to sort something out. Hm. It still went slightly wrong, but we all got home in the end. Having travelled from and to Brighton meant that I had got up ridiculously early, and by the time I got back, I was completely exhausted.

As usual, many thanks to Dave for being an awesome instructor. Everyone is looking forward to the next camp.

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