WHAT AN AMAZING TRIP. We arrived on Sunday evening and were met at the airport by Shuseki Shihan, Sensei Hagai, Sensei Erez and Senpai David and then taken on a tour of Tel Aviv before going to the dojo located in Ra’anana, about 25 minutes away.
We then drove down to the Summer Camp located in the Kibbutz and had dinner and a walk before going to bed. We had been up since 4.00 am that morning. The weather was bright and hot and our training started at 10.00 a.m the next day when the 50 students arrived by coach from Tel Aviv. We were lucky to be able to use a purpose built martial arts centre which was only 2 months old. Shuskei Shihan warmly welcomed us and was delighted that we had made the trip. I presented him and Seido Israel with a brush script scroll to mark our friendship which read, One friend..One Opportunity.
We trained all day up until about 7.00 p.m. in Kihon Israeli style as well as the Seido syllabus. I was invited to take the afternoon session and I focused on some unusual training drills, ground work and then competition tactics and techniques before dinner at 8.00 pm. It was good to work out with all the students and especially with Shuseki Shihan who is one of the best instructors in the world today, without a doubt. He has extraordinary multi discipline skills and is a born teacher who loves every aspect of sharing his skills and knowledge with others.
Tuesday saw us up at 6.00 am and in the dojo to start training which again lasted all day covering kata, bunkai, Bo and Jo, jiujitsu led by Sensei Hagai and finally a killer Boxercise session led by Senpai Lior. Most of us were pretty beat by the end of it – I watched but enjoyed the vital energy that poured out of the session.
Wednesday morning we rose at 4.00 am and were in the dojo for meditation at 4.30 am. Then it was out to the beach for beach training. The sky threatened rain as the waves crashed in on a windy morning. It felt warm to us but the locals were clearly feeling the edge. We had a great training session covering kihon, kata, yakusoku kumite and much more with of course the obligatory push-ups nose down in the sand and the water. As the sun rose you could feel the warmth flooding through you after a howling rain pelted us for about 10 minutes.
We finished the morning with the students divided into teams and competing in a variety of games, some hilarious, before each group produced an alternative view of the camp which was very funny. I had to judge some of the antics and there were serious attempts to influence my decision….all good natured. Then it was time for breakfast and clean up as we had to leave the camp by 12.00 .am.
We shared views of the camp in the training area and there was so much warmth shown between the students who included Sensei Rafal for Poland and his student Ella.
Firm friends were made between our students and Seido Israel which I am sure will be lasting ones. It was a memorable camp for all of us and I thanked Shuseki Shihan, the Bitran family and all his students for making us so welcome.
Time for touring. We went back to out hotel in Tel Aviv which was located near the beach and enjoyed some down time just walking near the sea, eating and chatting. Then on Thursday we set of of for Old Jerusalem at 7.15 a.m.; Friday we went to ‘Masada, Herod’s Palace and then bathed in the Dead Sea which was a remarkable experience and then on Saturday Max and John had to return home but we went to Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan.
I have put photos of our trip onto the image page. I will not go into details about the tours except to say they were thought provoking and a wonderful opportunity to see the best of the country. You are never far from politics in Israel but we had a far better understanding of the challenges facing both the Israeli and Palestinian people if a lasting peace is to be made.
Our sincere thanks go to all who made this trip a memorable one and I hope that many of you will make the same trip next year.