Chief instructor Sensei Derek Ridgway 7th dan kyoshi and his team, consisting of Philip Young 5th dan, Gary Boast 4th dan, Jovan Sirovica 2nd dan and Paul Holliday 1st dan, made the 14 hour journey across to India to meet up with Madhu, for what would would be a very interesting and unforgettable two weeks of training across this stunning beautiful state.
Upon arrival at Cochin airport, the team were greeted by Mr and Mrs Madhu. Yet to know the agenda for the weeks to come, everyone was inquisitive to what may be in-store.
With the only information being that of training seminars, the idea of anything other than work, was looked upon with an open mind, but anything could be possible at the hands of the Madhus.
After a quick hello, we were soon bundled into the back of a blacked out people carrier and whisked away to avoid been spotted on the 1st day of the national strike. With the strike in its early stages, it is looked down upon for anyone to be working. If it wasn’t for our maverick of a taxi driver willing to take us down from Cochin to Tripayar, there is no doubt our trip would have been off to an interesting start.
Arriving in Tripayar we were shocked to discover a vibrant but marvellous house situated on the beach front with only coconut groves separating our front door from the sea. The sights and sounds were magnificent and defiantly something to remember. It was an idyllic location and was to prove to be the central hub in which everyone was soon to fall in love with the surroundings.
Arriving early in the morning, we had a full day to relax and let the tensions of travel just slowly elevate out of our bodies. As night time crept around we were sent down to the beach for our first taste of training.
After a good nights sleep, we had another day of relaxation. A chance to secure ourselves within the location. The only agenda on the cards that day was to sleep and swim in the stunning Indian Ocean. With warm waters and the sun at full capacity, I can honestly say there was no other place I’d rather be. Paradise has been blessed upon us and we made the most of it.
The first and most focal event we went to was Kazoku camp. Located in Triprayar nr Trissur Kerela and based over three days, the event was centred on Sensei Derek and the team, teaching multiple groups from all over India.
As we pulled up onto the school grounds we were greeted by a mass of children in their gi’s, creating a path into the main school hall. The team took their places on the stage and prepared for the days events. After the welcome speeches, Sensei Derek prepared the class and started out with all the basic principles to make sure everyone was to the expected standard. As he instructed the class, the rest of the team helped to correct anyone who was confused or doing the techniques slightly wrong.
Once the basics were completed, the groups split up and moved onto katas. Working with what they already had mastered and the introduction to knew katas, the group really enjoyed the day and come out tired mentally and physically.
The following day we were at a different venue where students were staying for two days to learn from Derek. This really gave the students a chance to make the most of the short visit and take home a lot of vital information they were yet to learn.
The students were really mixed with all age ranges, sizes and abilities, really trying to prove they have what it takes and perfect their art.
Towards the end of the of the course, the students got to give demonstrations on what they had learnt and achieved for all the team to watch. Higher grades did a demonstration of kata and bukai while the lower grades showed their new kata they had learnt.
The following day we took a trip out into Thissur where we came across and elephant sanctuary. The sanctuary was a rehab centre for animals that had killed people and were
getting trained to cope around the ever expanding civilization.
When in India, you cant leave without experiencing the magnificent house boats in Appelly, Kerela. The chance to spend the night aboard a 2 story, 5 bedroom (en-suit), 2 living room boat is something you would not expect to find in many places, so we had to snap the chance up. We arrived onboard, unpacked and settled down as we left the dock. We travelled out into the man build reservoir to admire the beautiful views of paddy fields surrounding us.
After stopping off at a small shop based on the water front, we settled back down to prepair for dinner which was coked by our onboard chefs. The local cuisine was superb, with traditional keralan meals and local caught fresh fish.
On the night there was only one option. Prepare the beers.
On the 27th, we were booked in to attend ‘Blackbelt Training and Seminar’ where Sensei Derek and team would teach alongside Shihan R Gopakumar and Shian V Vijayakumar.
The venue was situated inside a religious building run by possibly the most awesome Karate practicing priest who was delighted to see us come down to train. Although he tryed to keep out the way, we all noticed that he would move toward the students and join in with the seminar.
On our travels, Madhu managed to get us an night away up in the mountains where we were to stay at a government lodge situated to look over the Kerala dam. Not many people can say they have stayed up there apart from officials and senior members of the dam project.
While there we came across a small snag. A group of government officials had turned up and took our room sending us to the old bunk room next door.
We went down the mountain to the dam where we walked across and looked upon where the original villages once existed. It was an emotional view to see where peoples homes had been submerged and destroyed during the construction process.
But once again, with views like this, it would be rude not to make the most of the sights. Beers flowing and Madhus friends joining us for the night, we went on to have an amazing night.
To make the trip up their so much more memorable we stopped off on the way down at the stunningly beautiful waterfalls in the nature reserve. We ventured across a dirt path to which we found the most spectacular pools to swim in. The whole area was breathtaking but the chance to swim was something I could have never imagined.
While we were over in Thissur, Madhu arranged that we go down to his dojo and work with his students and have a more intimate session with Sensei Derek and the team.
Madhu and Sensei Derek would have a chance to perfect the previous event’s kata with the higher grades, in order to give a high class demonstration for the inauguration ceremony which would come on the last day of the trip.
On the final day we got all pack up and headed off to the inauguration ceremony where the students could show their talent and secure Madhu’s club and Kazoku Kai a contract to have regular classes running in a gym chain covering India and one in Dubai.
To really prove the club has what it takes and to prove that as a whole they are one of the best clubs around, the students put on multiple demonstrations and really shocked the audience into what they are capable of. Sensei Derek and Sensei Philip took to the mats and firmly secured their place as senior practitioners of the art.
The trip was outstanding and was no doubt an unforgettable adventure to the real heart India.
Report by Jamie Whittaker
Message from sensei Derek Ridgway
I would personally like to thank all involved with our recent trip to India. All the members of kazokukai India and all involved deserve a hearty thank you from myself and all of our party who came over from England.
My biggest thanks goes to Madhu and Mridula Viswanadh who run Kazokukai India so well and made sure our trip was both enjoyable and a resounding success.
To top off the trip sensei Madhu was graded to 6th dan and his wife Mridula to 4th dan. We salute them for all their hard work.
Congratulations goes to the other kazokukai members who passed dan grade examinations. Well done to them all.