When was the last time you were truly excited about being a part of something bigger than yourself? As a participant in SKA, we have those opportunities within our organization. Some take place in the dojo near where we live and practice, some can be in another state, and yet some others may take you around the world. The Practice on the Canyon, held July 13–14 2019, was one of those events in another state for me. I was unable to attend the first year but made every effort to be a part of it this year, and in the years to follow.
I highly encouraged Brad Marsh, also from Redding, California, to go with me on this adventure. We loaded up and drove for over 10 hours to Twin Falls, Idaho. Jesse Clark and his family graciously hosted us for the duration of our brief but meaningful stay.
Jesse Clark created and organized this entire event. This year it was led by Rick Dulaney, assisted by Craig Walters. On Saturday, we had two practices at the College of Southern Idaho Recreation Center, followed by dinner at picturesque Shoshone Falls Park. Sunday morning practice began just before dawn and was held along the upper rim of the Snake River Canyon.
The first Saturday practice was from 10am to noon, led by Rick Dulaney. We lined up as usual for a brief meditation prior to practice. To my surprise, Rick asked me to lead the warm-up. I gladly accepted. My dojo leader, Hiroko Mori, always tells us to be prepared for anything. To be honest, I went in with a guest mentality, which was quickly corrected. When we put on our gi, we are all active participants and should be mentally ready for anything. Rick had us work on combination techniques with the goal of getting us to flow from one technique to another without exposing ourselves to an attack.
After a short lunch, the second two-hour practice was also led by Rick Dulaney. It was progressive and built upon the elements we were learning and working with from the first practice. Fluidity through combinations was the goal. Eventually, we should be able to flow from any defensive technique into an offensive one. Craig Walters helped by demonstrating and assisting us with this method.
Later that day, we met at Shoshone Falls Park for a potluck-style dinner. It is a beautiful park with multiple waterfalls cascading over and around the natural rock formations. For me, the Shotokan social gatherings are just as important as practices and can allow us to develop better connections with those we practice with.
On a lighter note, someone had brought some solid blocks of ice so we could race one another to the bottom of one of the steepest hills in the park! Now, I am not sure if this was some kind of Idahoan tradition to challenge visitors from out of state, or if it was just another typical Saturday in Idaho. Either way we had a blast!
The next day we all met along a trail overlooking the Snake River, just minutes before dawn. Belt ranks were interspersed along the canyon rim in preparation for 100 Tekki Shodan. This was it. This was why I drove 10 hours to be here. At this specific time, at this specific place…
This event was everything I had hoped for and more. Will you join us next time?
After going on several trips over the years, the journey to and from seems insignificant. What we will hopefully remember is the training we endured, the things we learned or improved upon and the connections with the people we met. Personal growth is an inevitable byproduct when we journey outside of our comfort zones and engage ourselves in something new. This was one of those experiences for me. What will it be for you?
-Mark Havsgaard, shodan, Redding dojo