KAZOKU KAI INTERNATIONAL REPORT FOR INDIA 2018
Sunday 11th February 2018 saw a team led by Head of Kazoku Kai International Kyoshi Sensei Derek Ridgway meet as a group at Birmingham Airport to begin their journey to the region of Kerala, India for a period of two weeks.
The team objective was to offer intensive support and guidance over this period to our colleagues in India utilising a large variety of techniques from varying styles.
The team, led by Sensei Derek Ridgway, comprised of Senior Sensei Peter Collins, Sensei’s Brian Carr, Joe Fenwick, Harry Binks, Craig Mienis, Gary Boast, and Jovan Sirovica.
The team managed to check in quite quickly and then moved on to prepare for the overnight long haul flight which on this occasion was with UAE (Emirates) and for those of us having been previously, found to be a great improvement on past ventures. Nevertheless, it did involve a change in Dubai from where we went on to Cochin airport, India. In total approximately 11hrs flying time, change over flights plus to and from airports meant a tiring day,
On arrival to Cochin we were met by the Indian representative of Kazoku Kai International Senior Sensei MadhuViswanadh and his brother-in-law Moroje Abhimanyu known by his nick name, Manu.
For some of us it was a renewal of friendships and for others the beginning of new ones. Manu I would add, as previously, had travelled 300kms to be with us for the entire period to support and assist in any way he could and he did a fantastic job.
The remainder of our first day revolved around our journey to our base which was a beach-house on the coastline, a stunning piece of paradise in the area of Kothakullam.
Sensei Madhu has planned for us to see a number of places of natural beauty, interest and adventure and Tuesday 13th saw the first of them.
We began by embarking on a minibus which we became very familiar with and was officially signed as Infinity. I’m sure you can appreciate some of the humour that came from this title along with film names for our two drivers who, by the way, were brilliant. The drivers introduced us to Bollywood movies with a showing of Bahu Balu 2. It was awesome and we were hooked and made sure we saw the first film ASAP followed by others during our other journeys.
In the morning we headed off to a Keralan treasure in the district of Adarambpalli which is a very large area of greenery, freshwater pools and waterfalls. We spent time here carefully walking through rocky pools to where we could better see the waterfalls and also have a very pleasant soak in the cool water.
After this great start to our day we were treated to a super lunch on our way home where we took advantage of the sea and beach followed by a lazy evening amongst friends.
Day three saw us depart in the morning to Guruvayur Temple and Elephant Sanctuary. We first went to the sanctuary which was a moving experience seeing these incredible animals and how well they are being cared for by clearly dedicated people.
Later, we went on to the Temple itself which is a large, stunning and beautifully presented building. There was a great deal of activity in and around the Temple and a number of other super structures to see. There was also an area for tourists to buy souvenirs which some of us took advantage of.
After making our way home we attended a Dojo of Sensei Madhu’s in Triprayar where we were introduced to approximately 65 students. Here we broke up into smaller groups to begin teaching to the varying levels and ages of the students. I would take the opportunity at this stage and having visited India before to emphasise how committed and eager the students are to learn.
On our 4th day, we made an early start to Allapuzha Backwaters which is an expanse of sea water trapped inland below sea level. On arrival we boarded our houseboat called Nile on which we would spend the night. During our time on the houseboat we were taken on a fantastic journey and I cannot begin to describe how big of an area this covers and the lifestyles that surround it from the wealthy to those not so, hotels businesses, lifestyle centres and many religious places of worship from all cultures just to mention a few things seen. During the evening Kata became prominent being practiced on the front deck, which should present a picture of the size of the boathouse. We were also entertained by some seldom heard and clearly rare poetry from various contributors and then singing by Sensei Madhu accompanied Manu on drums. The following morning saw us relaxed and heading back to our vehicle for the return journey which was another opportunity to see some more amazing scenery in Kerala. Fishing nets introduced centuries ago by Chinese fishermen which are large frames with nets that can be lowered into the water and then raised again later with their catch, particularly impressed us as they were in daily use having clearly stood the test of time.
Before returning home we stopped off at the Ko-In-Chi Academy of Martial Arts, Shotokan Karate, which is based at the home of a friend of Sensei Madhu, Sensei Sebastian. Ko-In-Chi derives its name from: Korea, India and China thus representing a multi style organisation. We were made vey welcome and during our visit Sensei Joe and Craig each demonstrated Kata. This was followed by a Bo Kata demonstration from Sensei Brian and Craig which was carried out with meaning and resulted in the breaking of a Bo.
We left having made new friends and an assurance that they and their students would be attending the weekend seminar and training event.
Saturday 17th and our sixth day saw an early preparation for us to attend the weekend seminar and training event for Sensei Madhu, whose wife Sensei Mridula was also attending in support. I have not mentioned before that everyone refers to Sensei Mridula also as Madhu, confusing, eh?! I am also informed that Mridula translated is ‘sweet like honey.’ I also believe that I speak for all when I say that Mridula was fantastic throughout our stay.
The event staged at the Triprayar Sports & Games Academy (TSGA) started with speeches, photographs and a ceremony of welcoming. The ceremony on a dais involved all of our group and several dignitaries during which an open oil lamp with several wicks was lit, and we all kept contact with the lamp until the ceremony was completed.
Around 125 students were in attendance were split into appropriate groups for tuition suitable for them. The age range was from four to…. never mind, I forget!! It was a long, hard day but thoroughly enjoyed by everyone with so much content I would be hard pressed to tell it all.
Sunday 18th saw another early preparation for our second day of the seminar and training event.
Today saw a further specific splitting of the students into three ability/knowledge groups with Sensei Gary and Sensei Jovan working with those up to 6th Kyu, Sensei’s Brian, Joe, Harry and Craig 5th to 1st Kyu and the remaining Dan grades by Sensei Derek and Sensei Peter. This was a very good morning catering for specific development of students and well received.
The afternoon was divided between situational self defence lead by myself as victim and Sensei Gary as assailant (I have the bruises to prove it) and advanced Kata with Bunkai led by Sensei Derek. This seminar and training event later drew to a close with thanks, speeches, photographs and autographs. A fantastic event and a huge success.
Monday 19th was a day with time for ourselves and we took full advantage.
Tuesday 20th saw us going to a school in Kailasanadha Vidyanikeithan, Thrissur where Sensei Madhu teaches. We were met by the Head of the school and introduced to the students some 120 of them. Once again we split the students into ability and knowledge groups, working on appropriate Kata and Bunkai. The session was well received, so much so that it was submitted to the press for publication along with photographs.
Wednesday 21st and we were off to an early start to the very high region of Munnar, with height variation between 5000-8000 ft above sea level and year round temperatures to match. On route, we spotted an antique shop and yes, we stopped and yes, we spent our money on all sorts of things. When we arrived in Munnar we went to a large reservoir where we had a boat trip around the shore line which proved to be a long and relaxing journey. After this we visited gardens and a suspension bridge which had quite a sway to it and incredible views. We stayed overnight in Munnar.
Thursday morning we set off for Thakkady and Ramakkalmedu also known as ‘The cradle of the wind.’ Here, Sensei Madhu had arranged for us to take an off road trip in jeeps, what an experience and great fun. From this we went to Kuravan Kurathi Statue and with a view point from which we see what felt like forever, it was a fantastic day.
Friday we returned to our home base back on the beach.
On the afternoon of Saturday 24th we visited a local Temple festival which was to have 40 adorned elephants and a prize awarded for the best one. It was a great experience of local culture. Later we went to a Dojo of Sensei Madhu’s for our final session with some 150 of his students. We again split into appropriate groups for yet another great session. At the end of this we were somewhat stunned to all be awarded numerous gifts which proved to be very emotional. We said our goodbyes and went back to prepare for our early morning flight back to England.
I hope you have found this account interesting and informative and when you next see us, please feel free to ask us what it was like as we have so much to tell. I wish to express my gratitude to my colleagues for making it as good as it was.
Lastly Sensei Derek, I know I speak for us all when I say thank you for inviting us, for giving us further tuition and for organising the whole trip.
My kind regards to you all,
Sensei Jovan Sirovica.