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Around Taekwon-Do with 80 People

by Julia Palmer, 1st gup
Camp Organiser

AN/CM Combined Regional Camp, Carey Park, Henderson, 3-5 October 2003

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Six teams of Taekwon-Do students, six odd-looking packages, three judges (but of what?) and Mr Tolley, with a mischievous glint in his eye. Minutes later those six packages were opened revealing a haphazard selection of items - balloons, toilet paper, rubbish bags, bubble wrap, feathers, just to name a few. The objective: design an outfit for the most senior ranked person in your team, using all materials in the package.

Thirty minutes later, the final products were unveiled; Mr Konia was stunning in a toilet paper evening dress complete with red and green crepe paper trimming, Mr Cain showed us how versatile balloons are, Miss Doogan gave new meaning to the term 'bag lady' looking chic in a formal shopping bag outfit, Mr Breen dazzled in a strapless newspaper evening dress complete with four metre long train, and Dr. Snelling sported nightwear made of bubble-wrap and feathers, and modelled like a professional ('Blue Steel', I believe the look was called and one might swear he'd practised it before). But, alas, there could be only one winner and it was Mr van Heerden. He sashayed across the hall with elegance, poise and grace, looking tremendously comfortable in an eye-catching strapless, black, rubbish bag evening dress, steeling the show and winning the judges' votes.

So began the Auckland North / Counties Manukau Combined Regional Camp.

The camp was held at Carey Park Christian Camp in Henderson Valley, over the first weekend of October and was open to all members of ITFNZ, regardless of rank. It was a great success, running almost completely smoothly, and enjoyed by all eighty participants and instructors. The camp was designed to cater for students of all ranks, ages and abilities through the provision of a range of options that enabled students to semi-tailor their days. Recognising that the needs and wants of children are somewhat different to those of teens and adults, there were two sessions just for children.

Having been subjected to Mr Tolley's idea of Taekwon-Do team-building, Friday night began fantastically. The session was followed by more team-building activities, encouraging further interaction of students.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling great. The camp was, so far, going to plan. My calm demeanour was shattered twenty minutes later with a phone call from a vomiting Les Mills instructor due to take the 9am cardio session - guess what. She couldn't make it. Panic! I've got an hour to come up with something. Sprinting down to the dinning hall, I rounded up several of those more senior in rank than myself and hit them up for ideas. Ten minutes later, Miss Nicola Tse had I been volunteered to take our own version of Taekwon-Do aerobics, aka, Taekwon-dobics. What? Huh? Wait a minute! I'm the camp organiser - how did I get volunteered?

Five to nine and Miss Tse and I had created two routines when Mrs Breen had a brainwave - get the students to come up with their own routines, and have them teach them to the class - brilliant! And, that's precisely what we did. Miss Tse and I performed our routines, the students did theirs, and Mrs Sonya Robinson took the warm down. In all, we ended up with thirteen pretty awesome routines. Special thanks to Mr Breen's team for the press-ups and to Mr van Heerden, who, despite a rather vocal abhorrence of aerobics, still helped create, and then lead, a routine.

Morning tea was followed by a session with special guest instructor, Mr Paul McPhail. Mr McPhail's session incorporated the camp's team-building theme, whilst simultaneously working our quads until they burned. He followed this with an holistic session, including work on stances, basics, patterns, and partner work. The session was informative and very stimulating, providing useful tips and practise for students of all ranks.

With our lunch of chicken burgers and salad out of the way, it was time for the first elective session. Mr McPhail took an 'instructors only' session that I'm positive was found to be very beneficial. Meanwhile, the rest of us participated in one of three options.

Messrs Jackson and Ormsby took 'Back-to-basics', managing to cover many of the basic elements of the ITFNZ syllabus. A wealth of knowledge is shared by these two young men and students of all rank (not just those new to Taekwon-Do) participated and found it very useful. Dr. Snelling, whose vast knowledge of how the body works added substantially to the practical nature of the class, took jumping and flying techniques. Power breaking legend, Mr Sawden, took a very popular class in breaking. His knowledge of technique coupled with his multiple experiences at world champs level were lapped up by the participants.

The second elective got underway at around 3:30. Mr Bhana took a very stimulating patterns session for students 1st gup and above. The power he had when demonstrating techniques was so forceful that he literally shook the room. Sparring with Mr Konia provided practical skills and gave students a good work out whilst managing to really cater to the different levels of students in the class. Self-defence with Messrs Pellow and Gillon - what can I say? These two are synonymous when it comes to self-defence, and gave many students their first experience in defence against attacks with weapons. This was a lot of fun - it's not everyday you get to try to whack someone with a big stick.

Recognising that the wants and needs of children are somewhat different to those of teens and adults, two kids sessions were held during the camp. The first of these was jumping and flying kicks with Mr Breen, held during the second elective session. The children who participated enjoyed themselves immensely and really benefited from Mr Breen's extensive knowledge.

A scrumptious roast dinner in our bellies and it was time for war games - Taekwon-Do style. It had rained pretty much solidly for the three weeks leading up to the camp, so it was decided that war games should be played inside (lest some students actually want to wear their dobok again). Miss Joe led the games, giving a quick history lesson on the three dynasties, before breaking us off into teams. Not surprisingly, Silla won most of the games, with the little ones often proving to be their best assets, once converted.

With war games over, and Baekje and Koguryo, well and truly defeated, it was time for much needed team patterns practise. A supper of chocolate fudge slice followed this, rounding off the evening nicely.

A late night gossiping, oops, I mean talking, for some meant the following morning felt very early indeed, especially considering that Sunday was the start of day light saving - oh, we felt so lucky!

This year's Auckland North Regional Team Coach, Mr Duncan Head, got everyone's blood pumping quickly, with the day's first session, sparring. For those who had never been in a team before, Mr Head's session gave them some idea of what regional team training is like - hopefully encouraging more participation in next year's regional teams for Nationals in Auckland North - go Auckland North!

Morning tea out the way and it was time for the third elective. Mrs Pygott took the children for a great session, teaching accuracy and speed in basic techniques through the physical abuse of small, defenceless soft-toys (most are still in therapy, but are recovering well).

Offensive sparring with Mr Rae provided students with practical and simple skills for sparring, using two or three techniques in different orders, and using them well, ie, keep it simple, but keep them guessing. Mr van Heerden's self-defence class was well thought out, teaching practical and applicable skills to very plausible real-life situations. The class was well entertained, with seniors being encouraged to further develop techniques. Miss Joe's breaking class proved a popular choice, particularly among the ladies. Her skill in breaking confirming that one doesn't need brute strength to break boards, rather good technique, confidence, and practise.

After yet another scrummy meal, this time lunch, it was time for the last elective. Mr Tolley took an enthusiastic break-falling session, popular with many students, especially those coming up to their 2nd and 1st gup gradings. Soft mats removed the threat of potential injury, and when combined with Mr Tolley's experience and charisma, gave students the confidence to push themselves to really 'fall'. Meanwhile, Mr Breen took a session on the 19 stances (yes, there are 19). This session provided students with both theory and practice in a pseudo-lecture style, including note taking.

With some confusion in the start time of the specialty session, Messrs Niven and van Roon were running slightly late. Not to worry - Captain Cam to the rescue and we were on our way. Dr. Snelling competed in team event at the latest world champs proving a more than capable temporary substitute. With warm-up and basic kicks completed the class was away flying when Messrs Niven and van Roon arrived. Watching Mr van Roon, the current men's specialty world champion, was seriously awe-inspiring, with many an 'ohmygoodness, how does he do that?' demonstration.

Electives over and the camp drew to a close, with only the patterns competition and final clean up to go. Throughout the camp each room of students (and instructors) was required to create their own team pattern to perform on the last day, with team places determining clean-up duties, ie, do well and get a nice job, not so well, and clean the bathrooms. The competition proved a thoroughly entertaining end to the camp and was judged by Mr Tolley on the following criteria; spirit, power, technique, timing and originality. Mr Matsuoka's solo pattern came in first, followed by our small group of younger girls, with their cleverly designed multi-directional pattern.

With clean-up, final form up and thank yous completed, and the end-of-camp inspection over, it was time for one very exhausted camp organiser to go home.

The camp was a great success with most of the objectives met to the fullest extent. Within all individual regions in New Zealand there is a wealth of talent, knowledge and a massive skill-base. The AN/CM Combined Regional Camp honed in on this fact, selecting instructors solely from inside the two regions, encouraging students to meet and experience working with instructors outside of their own club, but who are readily accessible. The team-building focus was met through a range of activities and hopefully resulted in many a friendship being strengthened or formed.

Without the help of so many, this camp could never have been possible. To the eighteen guest instructors - thank you. Your enthusiasm and skill in Taekwon-Do really is inspiring. Also, a big thank you to Mrs Breen for helping keep things running during the camp and for coming up with so many life-saving on-the-spot ideas; Mr McPhail for not only teaching, but also for getting information on the ITFNZ website so promptly and for making such beautiful certificates; Mr Matsuoka for the first-aid kit and for all the cleaning you didn't have to do (he had to be physically removed from the kitchen in order to stop him washing dishes); the Carey Park staff for providing such excellent facilities and fantastic meals; Miss Tse and Mrs Robinson for the aerobics; Mr Knight for the fantastic flowers. Also to Miss Joe and Mr Niven for helping with the original planning and structure of the camp; and to Mr Bhana, Mr Tolley, Mr and Mrs Pygott, and Mr and Mrs Palmer (aka., Mum and Dad - you can have the house back now), for all your support leading up to and during the camp - it could never have been done without you. And last, but, by no means least, thank you to the students who came, supported, learned and enjoyed the camp - thank you.

Dear TKD Talk

Over the first weekend of October, the Auckland North / Counties Manukau Combined Regional Camp was held at Carey Park Christian Camp in Henderson Valley. The camp was a very successful and enjoyable event that could not have been made possible without the help of so many.

To the 18 guest instructors - thank you. Your enthusiasm and skill in Taekwon?Do is inspiring. To:

  • Mr McPhail for teaching such wonderfully holistic sessions, for getting everything on the ITFNZ web page so quickly and for fantastic certificates
  • Mr Bhana for the very informative patterns session and for keeping my spirits up when I was feeling down about numbers
  • Mr Tolley for the break-falling, for getting senior dans way out of their comfort zones and for all the support while at the camp
  • Miss Joe for the breaking session, and for help in the initial planning stages of the camp
  • Mr Breen for taking stances - especially given it's not his favourite topic - and for teaching flying kicks to the kids
  • Messrs Pellow and Gillon for the self-defence class - it's not everyday you get to try to whack people with sticks
  • Mr Niven for the specialty techniques class, and for being a sounding-board for camp ideas during the planning stages
  • Mr Rae for the offensive sparring class that taught really practical skills
  • Mr van Heerden for a very useful, applicable self-defence class and for making up a Taekwon?Dobics routine despite his abhorrence of aerobics
  • Messrs Jackson and Ormsby for a great basics class that managed to cover so many different areas of the syllabus
  • Mr Head for a well-pitched sparring session
  • Mrs Pygott for the kids session and for all the support throughout the camp
  • Mr Sawden for the excellent breaking session
  • Mr Konia for a sparring session that catered to a variety of levels
  • Mr van Roon for the specialty session and demonstrating what it is possible to achieve
  • Dr Snelling for the incredibly practical and informative session on flying techniques and for stepping in where the situation demanded it.
A big thank you also to:
  • Mrs Breen for all the help with last minute planning and the drive for numbers, as well as helping organise at the camp
  • Mr Knight for the flowers
  • Mr Pygott for the support and making the effort to get numbers
  • Miss Tse and Mrs Robinson for the impromptu aerobics performances
  • Mr Matsuoka for the first-aid kit and for all the unnecessary cleaning (I had to have him physically removed from the kitchen)
  • Carey Park staff for the great facilities and brilliant food
  • Mr and Mrs Palmer (Mum and Dad) thanks for, well, everything - you can have the house back now
  • lastly, but by no means least, the students who attended - I hope you had a good time, made some new friends and learned something new - thank you all.

Organising this camp taught me a lot about the people in Taekwon?Do. There is so much support on offer from people, if you just ask. It also proved that you don't have to be an instructor or even a black belt to organise a successful event - but, it pays to have the help of a few. It's been three years since Auckland North or Counties Manukau had a regional camp, so for all those who turned out to support this one, here's hoping you enjoyed it and we'll see you at the next one.

Thanks once again.

Julia Palmer
Camp Organiser


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