Following the success of last years Irish Taekwon-Do camp, a group of 18 enthusiastic TKD students arrived one by one at Crawfordsburn forest park in Belfast - Northern Ireland. There were attendees from England, Ireland and Scotland ranging from 14 years old to 60+, yellow belt to 8th Dan..
The group (front row - Linda, Jemma, Ellen, Denny, Ryan, Master Cutler, Jonny, Caroline, Liz, Pauline.. back row - Ronnie, Alex, Christian, Conor, MC, Zoe, Judy, Rab)
Day 1 - Friday
The group was divided into 2 teams - Baekje, and Silla - The camp got underway when Master Cutler set both groups the challenge of creating a fully functioning chair made from balloons, and quite unbelievably both teams finished the task with someone sitting on a chair like arrangement of balloons! By 5pm everyone had a dobok on and the training began.. The first session focused on the roots of good TKD - The stance, and core strength! We enjoyed (endured) the conditioning excersizes used to build strength in the lower body and practised moving between stances the correct way! By 7:30pm the group was sat together enjoying dinner, all entertainment was self provided - Ryan Belshaw played his guitar, Conor Killeen told some Irish limerics and Master Cutler set us some more challenges which have to be seen to be believed! Time for bed at midnight..
Day 2 - Saturday
The day began at 6am with deep stretching excersizes, both static and ballistic.. After an hour Master Cutler turned the focus to relaxation and meditation - a subject which was completely new to most of the participants, but nevertheless an enlightening experience! After breakfast the side kick and turning kick were ripped apart and analised thoroughly, giving everybody a chance to improve their power and speed! The same was done with some pattern movements, rest assured that lots of notes were taken down as the day went by! The teams then went seperate ways - one stayed with Master Cutler for training, another was free to enjoy the zip wire onsight! Clearly, around 8 hours of training was not enough, Master Cutler kindly put us through "Saju Hell" - This is an extremely explosive excersize utilizing the movements of saju jirugi, makgi and tulgi and lasting nearly an hour.. Saju Hell, the clue is in the name!! Saturday night was BBQ night and of course "GATHERING OF THE IMMORTALS" .. A greek god themed party! The BBQ was manned by Alex Aquino and Ronnie Carruthers while everyone else dressed up in their togas (dressed to impress), the party went on into the night as everyone got stuck in with challenges!
Day 3 - Sunday
We shadowed Master Cutlers daily routine once again at 6am, a 2 hour stretching and relaxation/meditation session - Today was focused on step sparring and reacting to an attacker as fast and accurately as possible, the theme of the day was 'if you want to do it right - repetition repetition repetition' .. The pattern movements and applications were mixed with the sparring, and Master Cutler used his human punchbag (Rab Dolan) to demonstrate defense against sticks and blunt objects! It was interesting to observe how effective the techniques could be, and how easy they were to perform. "Pain is an excellent teacher, but nobody wants to go to his class" - a quote appropriate to what followed, as we were introduced to the pressure points and vital spots on the body, simple self defense = highly effective.. Shortly after a long discussion about all things TKD, Master Cutler encouraged us to try and be the best we can be and constantly challenge ourselves - Denny Locker demonstrated a Reflex kick as an example of a challenging technique.. We had an hour of fun racing each other down a hill on a sledge with wheels (called grass sledging) and as night fell it was time for "Dynasty showtime" - Everyone had prepared a performance (TKD related) for the evenings entertainment, the acts were "United King-Do" "Won-Hyo disco" "Dosan Dosan" and "Hwarang in a bar", all were great entertainment and Master Cutler rounded off the entertainment off by demonstrating several amazing breaking techniques.
Entertainment - Application of Yoo-Sin - Drinking cups of tea in succession
Day 4 - Monday
The 4th and final day began with a 6am stretch, of course - Everyone was feeling sore from the intense training the day before, and the focus was brought to relaxation once more.. Several people were beginning to appreciate the effects of the meditation techniques and vowed to continue after the camp! Most people had afternoon flights, leaving the group with only a few hours of training time left - Master Cutler drilled us in self defense against bladed weapons and release from grabs to finish off the training before a colour belt grading - congratulations Judy (now Blue tag) and Linda (now Red belt) .. At 4pm we were packed up and leaving Crawfordsburn, heading home!
The camp was a fantastic experience, and I urge anybody who is serious about furthering their TKD knowledge and sharing what they already know to take part in next years camp! Big thanks from me to everyone who took part and kept me company this year.. Caroline - thank you for taking care of us and attending to our hearts desires.. Master Cutler - My notebook is almost full, thank you for showing me what is possible through TKD training, and inspiring me to reach the next level.