The 47th ISKF Master Camp held at Camp Green Land in Pennsylvania USA.

Early on Thursday 6 June 2013, Sensei Steve Andrews and I met with Sensei John Russo at Brisbane domestic airport to being our journey to the 47th ISKF Master Camp held at Camp Green Land in Pennsylvania USA. Our first port of call was Sydney where John had organized our airport transfer from domestic to international courtesy of Andy McKecknie (of the soon to be opened Sydney TSKF dojo). Then it was on to the long haul – Sydney to Dallas, a flight which turns out to be the longest non-stop flight anywhere in the world some 15.5 hours covering 13,800 kilometers. Luckily the in-flight entertainment was good and Steve was seated between John and myself (which potentially saved sanity, in both cases). Once we arrived in Dallas, it took another hour and three quarters to clear customs, then John had organized our second transfer for the trip; with his nephew-in-law waiting our arrival in the Admiral’s Club. There was time for a quick refreshment before it was on to the last leg to Philadelphia. On arrival we caught a taxi to our swish hotel down town. After some 30 hours of travel, none of us had any trouble sleeping that night.

Early the next morning we were met, at our hotel, by Sensei Mark Willis and fellow Kiwis Andy Riley and Paul Edwards. We had some breakfast before heading off to do a bit of sightseeing around Philly, however we all had to buy umbrellas as a tropical low was causing some rather heavy rain about town. We still manage to see a couple of sights like; Independence Hall,Liberty Bell and of course we had to stop by ISKF Honbu and the Museum of Art on the way to the airport for a run up the Rocky Steps (in the pouring rain of course). We were due to meet Takahashi Shihan at the airport at 2pm however his plane was delayed by two and a half hours due to the rain. Once he finally arrived we made our way to Green Lane.

Unfortunately, the delay meant we missed the first training of the camp, with Okazaki Shihan, on the Friday evening. We checked in and it was off to our cabins; John and Mark were in the ‘Infirmary’ and Steve, Andy, Paul and myself in Cabin 3 –ironically named the ‘Palace’. Soon after checking in we got our first encounter with the infamous ‘Salad Bar’ for dinner.

We were woken at 6am the next morning by the traditional Master Camp alarm – the whistle, blown by ISKF legend - Bob Sandler – 90 years-old and the only person to attend all 47 Master Camps. Then it was down to the basketball court for the morning bow-on, before joining everyone on the run then to the dojo for morning training. We were all allocated to the ‘Shoto Dome’ for training – which was less like a dome and more like a hall without any walls. This sometimes made training a little treacherous when it was raining. Our instructor for the first day was Yaguchi Shihan – with his morning class focusing on stance and hip rotation.

After the morning training there was time for a quick shower before heading to the dining hall for breakfast – of course signified by a whistle. During the course of the week, there was various activities taking place – like dan gradings and accreditation for instructing and judging, however as we had no involvement we had some time to relax during the day. After lunch there was an optional training session before the main afternoon training session.

The camp provided us an opportunity to catch up with friends we made at the World Cup in the Philippines and it didn’t long to work out the lie of the land. On the Saturday evening I was invited to dinner by Justin Nepo and Pedram Rastegar - who were part of the USA team in the Philippines. It was a great chance to grow friendships and make some new ones as well.

By Sunday the rain had moved on and the morning bow on took place just as the sun was rising over the trees – it was quite a sight. Sunday training was with Sensei Cathy Cline from Seattle USA. Immediately after training all karate-ka gather for the group photo before heading for breakfast. After morning training we headed to the shopping centre for a coffee with Shihan and to collect some supplies.

Monday saw the rain return and as a result the morning bow on was cancelled and we headed straight to the ‘Okazaki Dome’ for training with Miura Shihan. The ‘Okazaki Dome’ was a preferable venue when it was raining. Miura was an exceptional instructor who, although small in build was incredibly strong and always smiling - he would often walk by you during training, correct you then smile and walk off. After lunch I organized a trip into town with one of the guys from our cabin to do some laundry, as there was no training in the arvo during to dan gradings.

Tuesday, we decided to alter our scheduled training venue – taking the opportunity to train with Sensei James Field from USA and Sensei David Jones from Canada. Both were exceptional instructors, who took time to explain techniques and concepts in great detail. That evening we all enjoyed a break from the Salad Bar as Shihan took the Aussies and the Kiwis to dinner at the local Japanese restaurant.

Wednesday was the day that Takahashi Shihan was allocated to the ‘Shoto Dome’ and it was training as usual with Shihan – focus on kihon, not too much talking and plenty of doing. It was interesting to note during training that there was plenty of karate-ka struggling to ‘quickly master’ the kumite combinations that Shihan often does.

Thursday there was one last morning run and training. We decided to train with Takahashi Shihan again as he was in the ‘Okazaki Dome’ and once again it was raining. After breakfast there was time for a quick rest before the Goodwill Competition kicked off. I entered in both Individual events and formed a Team for kumite with a guy from Switzerland and another from Brazil. The men’s division had 30+ competitiors and was a good opportunity to gain more experience. Kata was first and I drew Heian Godan in the first 2 rounds, then Bassai Dai in the 3rd round. Then it was down to the final 4, I performed Sochin and finished just 0.1 behind the winner from Costa Rica.

It was then straight into the kumite and I was on early coming up against a guy from USA. After 2 minutes we finished with a half point each, so it was on for a rematch which are golden point in ISKF. I managed to score with a gyaku-tsuki only marginally before wearing a very solid mae-geri. In the 2nd round I received a bye as my opponent withdrew. 3rd Round I came up against the Canadian who finished 3rd in kumite at the World Cup last year. It was a close bout however, I was down a half point when the 2 minutes expired.

Team kumite was a fun event with my teammates easily accounting for their USA opponents in the first round. Then we were straight into the final against a strong team from Argentina. This time my teammates weren’t as successful and the result was already secured before I got to fight, so all that was left for me was to salvage some pride.

The medals were presents at dinner in the evening before most people headed to the local pub to celebrate into the early hours of the morning. The next morning John and Steve were up early to travel with Shihan back to Philadelphia airport for the long journey home. For me I arranged a lift to New York for a further week of sightseeing in the Big Apple.

Thanks to Takahashi Shihan, John and Deb Russo, Steve Andrews, Peter from Bundaberg TravelWorld and TSKF Queensland – who all provided assistance to make this a very worthwhile experience.