Camp Phoenix is a big deal for us. The weekend of training represents, for Phoenix karateka, the end of one training year and the beginning of the next. This year was especially memorable for me as I was able to see my teacher, Shihan Cathy Melanson, be promoted to the rank of nanadan (7th degree black belt). Also, one of my favorite teachers to train with, Shihandai Elias Mazur was promoted to the rank of godan (5th degree black belt) in our typical modest ceremony.
There were so many highlights from this past Camp! Just to list three...
1.) SIX Gaithersburg students attended Camp Phoenix for the first time! I still remember my first Camp and greatly respect the courage it takes to go into something that is new...and you've only heard "legends" about.
2.) Gaithersburg has two new black belts! Seeing Matt and Austin put on their black belts and join the Yudansha ranks was, for me, an emotional moment. What great guys to have in our group!
3.) We've got 3 NEW black belt candidates in Jon C., John K., and Nick R. Boy do I have a great year of training and preparation ready for them:-)
So many memories were made this year, but one in particular sums up what we are all about. During the kumite (sparring) requirement for Austin's shodan test, I had the honor of being his last opponent. The rule was simple...the moment that Austin pushed me out of his ring, the fight was over. Now, I very well could be twice Austin's weight and he had already completed at least 30 minutes of sparring, but we like to make tests a challenge. We NEED our black belts to "feel the Phoenix". Shouts of "get him out of the ring Austin" and "PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!" were rising from around Austin's ring. As I pulled in close, I could hear in a weak voice "I tried. I can't" Then...not 5 seconds later...I find myself flying from the ring. In that short time, a man went from "I can't" to "I DID". THIS is the Phoenix.