John Russell, Guardian of Lau Gar (and the systems only 7th Degree Black sash to boot!), paid his second visit of 2008 to the BVMA clubs. John has an extremely busy schedule of teaching in the UK so it was a real coup to get him here twice in one year. The course was well attended by members of all clubs and all grades and we also had a few of our Wexford and UCD cousins in attendance.
The weekend started off on Friday night up at the hall in Kilskyre with an intensive syllabus session with a number of the senior students. John spent a couple of hours going through all of the sets up to and including Black Sash with a fine toothcomb and was a class that was really enjoyed by all.
Saturday started off with a gentle warm up followed by several stance training routines to get the blood flowing. Following on from there we went into some ging training routines and then came part 1 of the weekends learning theme, the Chin Na routine. Some of us had learned this Llandudno a few years back but John added a new twist by incorporating some of the key movements (8 powers) from this years summer course into the routine. A short break followed by some syllabus work came next and we ended the day with some floor stretching and finished off with some Jam Jong.
Sunday followed in much the same vein as Saturday with warm, stance routines and some ging training and we then finished off the rest of the Chin Na set. John then took us through some routines which built up into part of the "Buddha Palm" set which worked both mind and body. Once again John took some time to go through some syllabus with all present before finishing the day with some standing meditation (Jam Jong).
"Get the boat..Pat Rafter" - you'd need to have been there.
After a hiatus in 2007 the annual "Pindar Pilgrimage" was undertaken by another 7 hardy souls from the various BVMA clubs. Once again the location for the summer course was the Yorkshire seaside resort and Lau Gars summer mecca, Scarborough. Having learned our lesson from previous years, our digs location was conveniently situated mid way beytween the two main starting points of the morning runs...clever eh??
Fortunately, there was no run on the Sunday morning so we had the luxury (?) of a lie in as training didn't start until 10am. Once the formailities of registration were completed we were straight into the main business of the week, training, under the watchful eyes of Master Yau, John Russell, Morag Quirk and a host of other Guardians. As usual, and as was about to be discovered by the newcomers, we were about to spend the next week being pushed both physically and mentally.
Heres a quick breakdown of how our days went.
Hour 1 - taken up with a gentle warm up including body swinging, Bac Ging Kung (8 brocade exercises) and stance training. This part of the course was lead by John and Morag.
Hour 2 - comprised of the weeks "special learning element" - the "8 treasures". This section was lead by John. I won't go into the details here as it is quite a cerebral thing, but I'm sure everyone who completed the week has a much better understanding of their Kung Fu. There was also a knife defence element during this hour.
Hour 3 - syllabus. Each grading group was split up and spent time working on their syllabus, either with another instructor, on their own or with Master Yau
Hour 4 - kicking techniques, stance training, dynamic stretching and meditation. The final hour was taken up with us warming up again kicking techniques (under Guardian Andy Nations guidance), more stance work (with Guardian Keith Thomas), dynamic Stretching (lead by Morag Quirk) and finally Jam Jong (lead by John/Morag)
Oh yeah....also in Hour 4, I forgot Shaolin Stamping, we started at 30 on day 1 and finished the end of the week on 100...tiring but also exhilarating, by the final day you'd happily do another 100....well, maybe 50...or 20 at least!!! And in case you think meditation sounds easy...try standing STOCK STILL for 15/20 minutes, its a lot more physically and mentally demanding than you may think.
Coupled with all of the above we also had the early morning runs, starting on the Monday with a leisurely 3 mile trot but by the Friday this had extended to approximately 7 miles!!
The final days training was a little more relaxed but we had been asked to come up with a few self defence moves over the course of the week and demonstrate these. Not only that, but John had also asked us to identify some of the principles we had learned from the special theme section of this years course...not as easy as it seems but John and Master Yau seemed pleased with the efforts we came up with and the explanations we provided, at least we drew a few oohs and ahhs from the crowd anyway!
It wasn't all work work work (for some at least!). The traditional Wednesday bbq at the Arosa caravan park in nearby Seamer was pending and this year "Team Boyne Valley" (with the able and very kind assistance of Sifu Stuart Agars) were nominated (should read ambushed!) to run the show. Undaunted we launched into our challenge with gusto and by 5pm on Wednesday we were well into the task with Niall on the grill, Mary running the vegetarian grill, Derek and Stu in the kitchen, Catriona running front of house and the two Stephens acting as KP's!
It was kinda difficult to tell but everyone looked well fed and happy and I managed not to poison anyone despite a shaky start with the sausages and happily the hairs on my arms have grown back although it was touch and go there for a while! A tip for next years bbq team.....get full arm length oven gloves, you'll thank me for this!
There was also a social gathering on the friday evening and once again "Team Boyne Valley" were tasked with organising this. By happy coincidence this gathering was held in our "local"..funny that. It was a good chance to mix with the guys and gals from training and compare war wounds and training stories and we regaled each other with these stories well into the night.
By the time the week had ended we were already planning for next years visit and as any of this years newbies will tell you it's a trip well worth making, irrespective of your grade. Roll on Scarborough 2009!!
Another year and another 15+ students from the various BVMA clubs made the quick trip to Wexford to train with Master Yau at his annual training course in Ireland. As stated before it is a rare opportunity to train with Master Yau and it is one that is certainly appreciated.
Saturdays training consisted of the 8 Brocades led by Sifu Pete Hornby followed by some basic kicks and stance routines from Master Yau. The main body of the day was spent practicing conditioning techniques which left even some of the more experienced attendees feeling a little tender afterwards, but this was soon quelled following our group dinner in a local chinese restaraunt.
Sundays training mirrored that of saturdays but the main thrust of the day was spent learning some sticking hands and pushing hands techniques before finishing with some Jarm Jong meditation.
As usual Master Yau readily answered any and all questions thrown at him and we're already looking forward to his visit next year.
On the weekend of 1st/2nd March as part of its 5th Anniversary celebrations Boyne Valley Martial Arts hosted a course delivered by John Russell, Guardian of Lau Gar and the only 7th degree Black Sash. Students from all of the BVMA clubs including some juniors were in attendance and all grade levels from White sash through to Black took part in the training.
John is no stranger to many of the club members who have travelled to the annual summer training course in the UK and so the weekends training was eagerly anticipated when John announced that the format would be that of a "mini summer course"….those of us that had been there before had a small grin on our faces…at least we knew what was coming!!!
Both days started off with a brief warm up, squats followed by the "Eight Brocade" sequence and then we were down to business. John then took the group through a stance training routine which tested the legs and then followed this up with some "ging" training.
As with the summer course there was a special learning element to the weekend and we were very fortunate to have John teach us the Dual Man Form (Quan Zhuang Dui Chai). This form is a series of about 30 movements practiced with a partner in which both sides act as aggressor/defender through out the set.
Both days then finished off with some floor work including escapes from locks and chokes and some kicking combinations. Mini summer course or not, more than a few of us had that old dull ache of in our leg muscles by the end of the weekend…probably a timely reminder that this years summer training is fast approaching.
John then took some time on the Sunday to do some extra training with the black sash students instructing them on the weapons forms for their next gradings.
On the closing day John, on behalf of the students, very kindly presented Derek with a small plaque commemorating the 5th birthday of the clubs.