4 days. 5 nights. About 18 hours of sleep.
One of the best things about the internet is that it allows really specialized interests to connect across continents. There are lots of soldiers and cops, people who deal professionally with violence, but relatively few who have made a career of the dangerous missions and even fewer who are given to pondering the principals and implications of their expereience. It would get lonely.
There are also millions of martial artists, but few who are both dedicated and open minded. Fewer who have been with it long enough that they are driven to strip away and understand rather than collect new techniques or new belts. Even fewer who pay more than lip service to practicality.
The internet allows me to connect with both of these groups and even with the very, very rare individuals where the groups connect: the hard core combat philosophers who are also trained in traditional systems of combat.
Last weekend was spent at the Gulf Coast/BudoSeek jujutsu camp. There were probably 80 people in attendance with probably 20 serious martial artists, 15 professionals and a half dozen of that elite of both camps. I think that's more than I've ever seen in one room before. Two of them, Tony and Cliff (and Robert, who is all Martial artist and retired Marine), were my reasons for attending. Whether the classes were good or not (and it was a mixed bag, as always) the time spent with them was sure to be worth it.
There's also something about the internet- you can gauge someones knowledge and maybe dedication, but until you see them move you don't know. These guys knew pain and damage, how to withstand and how to create it. They were each and every one the real deal.
The classes were mixed. Good judo, good aikido. Some good jujutsu, some terrible. Some atrocious self-defense (how do you teach a knife defense where you cut your own throat every time and none of the students notice it?) Good introduction to arnis (plus a piece I never put in context before- Thanks, Barry). But even the weakest classes with good partners were opportunities to learn and improvise.
Travel budget allowing, I'll return next year.
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