Set up day was atrociously hot. 36 – 40 degrees around SE Queensland. Shi Gong arrived (with Andrew) around 2.30 and scouted out a camping spot for the group. With Andrews help, the massive tarp was set up for shade and tent sites selected. Louise and Terry arrived about 4.30 with Campbell just after. By the time dinner came around everyone went for an easy option and chose something simple to put together. Although fire bans were in place throughout the national parks, we were fine to have a fire in the pits provided. We chose however to leave it for the following night. The ban would mean making some changes to our proposed schedule. Final arrival was Justin (straight from army camp) who was set up in no time.
First activity on Saturday morning was Qi Gong and for this we went up the back of the property to a spot giving a nice expansive view of Mt Barney and surrounds. Once everyone was charged up, we practiced some Tai Ji basics and then I introduced the beginning of the Tai Ji 13 form. All picked it up well and I was able to get through the first half, more than expected.
After breakfast we went down to the creek and they learnt a batch of takedowns. These encompassed various common attacks and from various directions. Most were surprised with the ease at which they could control someone to the ground.
Back to site for a morning tea break then we had a game of Klop. This involves knocking numbered pegs over to score points and I figured would be a good exercise to practice getting their eye in for knife throwing later in the weekend. I think over the camp nearly everyone had a win or at least came within a single throw of winning, but it was Justin who was consistently taking it out. Even played a perfect game winning with 5 throws, no misses and a perfect score!
Lunch then fuelled us up for the afternoon hike. The plan was to scout out and scale Mt Gillies at the back end of the property. We headed off with map and instructions and soon found a great spot that the lodge use for abseiling and climbing (logged away for next time!). After a lot of uphill trudging and clambering, Shi Gong and Louise returned to camp while Justin took the lads to the top. Turned out the top was not clearly defined and were many outcrops but the views were tremendous.
Prior to dinner we had a theory and discussion session introducing the various concepts of stealth and how and why you would apply them in real life. Justin was able to contribute some knowledge from his army experience too.
After dinner was our opportunity to put the stealth information into practice. Changing into our camo gear or dark clothing we made our way to a designated area for training. There was a good mix of long grass, shrubbery and trees and we all had a turn at being the searcher. Campbell found a great spot blending into a tree and Shi Gong managed to go the whole night only being discovered once.
Back to camp for snacks and camp fire and the inevitable marshmallow challenge. I think 9, 11 and 13 were the numbers reached before Shi Gong blitzed it with 18 in his mouth at one time! Fluffy bunny indeed!
Sunday brought a cold change and an early visitor. As always it was great to see Shi Gong’s mentor John and he chatted and accompanied us to the creek for our meditation and Tai Ji walk. He discovered a potential climb down split rock which we’ll definitely explore next time.
After breakfast we returned to a clearing in the bush near the creek to continue the Tai Ji 13 form. This time we also looked at the various applications of the movements, and worked on the second half of the routine. That was pretty much everyone’s mental limit for taking in moves so we returned to camp.
Longstaff was eagerly anticipated and we practiced and learnt a wide array of spins, manoeuvres, and techniques including some monkey staff work. For the remainder of camp, whenever there was free time, the staffs were often being grabbed for practice and brush up.
Jianzi is the Chinese version of hockey sack played with a bunch of feathers connected to some coins/washers. We had lofty aims of reaching the 20’s but it proved more difficult than the class ball we usually use. That by the way, lasted precisely one kick before barbed wire took its toll.
By now, wet weather had arrived (of course, its compulsory on a BKF camp!), so we declined the creek wrestling and had another theory session. I introduced the 5 element philosophy to our individual selves and explained how they influence the way we move and respond. After exploring all the various elements, students had to determine what their preferences were and which were least favourable. This gave insight to their natural strengths and weaknesses. A few people were surprised by what they discovered.
The following theory/discussion involved listing and talking about various other martial arts. We had a list of over 70 from all over the world and everyone learnt a lot, including about styles they didn’t even know existed.
Stealth was cancelled due to wet weather and so the camp fire was enjoyed earlier than normal. Some word games were enjoyed and another food challenge set. The Weetbix challenge. The challenge is to eat one whole biscuit in under a minute which is incredibly difficult. However, we had a winner! Campbell managed to somehow consume his entire Weetbix biscuit with seconds to spare while the rest of us tried to deal with the gluggy mess in our mouths.
After a considerably colder night we were up again at 7 for Qi Gong, but this time it was at Yellow Pinch Ridge. A short drive to the National Park, and an ambitious jog up the mountain to a beautiful view of 3 mountains, Mt Lindesay, Mt Barney and Mt Maroon. Some Qi Gong there was going well till it rained on us, initiating our return to camp.
Final activity was knife throwing, we split into two groups (small knives and larger knives) and spent time on each target. After learning how to hold, aim and throw it was just a matter of time before the distancing was worked out and knives began to stick. A few alternative throwing methods were mentioned and demonstrated but ultimately everyone was happy to work on getting one technique down. Check out the video showing Shi Gong in action.
Last up, everyone pitched in to disassemble camp and a last game of Klop. By all accounts a great time was had by everyone. Make sure to chat to them in class and hear in person what they got up to and enjoyed.