Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw Kung Fu: Summer Camp 2004
Intensive International Event with Eagle Claw Grandmaster, Fu Leung
This summer, June 2004, saw the largest gathering of Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw within recent memory. In the first event of its kind since 1999, over 50 practitioners assembled under the banner of Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw International to participate in Summer Camp 2004.
Hosted by Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw clubs in Olympia and Seattle, Washington, the event was coordinated by members of Team Evergreen (IKF's Hall of Fame Competitors of the Year, 2003); Owen O'Keefe and Andrew Bresnik put in hard work, organizing and scheduling both housing and training space for the Camp, under the direction of National Coach Sifu Dana G. Daniels. Over the past several years, Evergreen has developed into an international base camp, hosting Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw clubs, teams and training sessions. The Camp alternated between The Evergreen State College, the Longhouse Educational and Cultural Center, and the Phinney Ridge Kung Fu Club in Seattle. During the two-week long event, Grandmaster Fu Leung taught core principles of the Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw style to kung fu men and women gathered together from all over the world.
Participants came in by car, plane, and bus from California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana, Louisiana, and Texas. Traveling from further distances were delegates from Ireland, Hawaii, Japan, and England. Mr. Ryan Kunimura traveled for over 30 hours by train, bus, and plane from the south of Japan! Other participants went to great lengths to attend for even part of the Camp, rearranging work, business, and personal schedules. Professor Rick Parrish (Political Science, Loyola University) took time out to attend the camp for the first week, before flying out to deliver a speech at a major international conference!
Such a gathering is unprecedented; never have so many, from so many different clubs, schools, and teams been present at one event. All of Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw's Collegiate Clubs were well represented, with members from UW-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, Team Evergreen, and Indiana University. The Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw National Team was in full attendance, with senior members Nate Sonnenberg and Noam Reininger lending their experience, skill, and leadership to the Camp. This Camp was a welcome opportunity for members of all levels of experience to train together.
With a 3-hour open session in the mornings and a 4-6 hour session in the evenings under the tutelage of Grandmaster Fu, participants didn't lack for opportunities to hone their skills, and learn new ones. Beginning with unfolding the basic drills of Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw, Grandmaster Fu, demonstrated both the methods and the applications embodied in the fundamental techniques which are often used as warm-ups. Progressing to foot-work and stance-training, he introduced a series of drills that utilized the low stances of Northern Shaolin to condition the legs, instill mobility, and 'cook the foot'. After four hours of training, you could smell the feet cooking from clear out in the hallway! From there, he taught a progression of Eagle Claw techniques, both single and two-man, codified into a series of basic drills that develop the abilities of catching, pulling, twisting, and striking. Two full sets were also taught: the Eight-Linked-Step Eagle Claw Boxing and the Northern Shaolin Set, Moi Fat. He taught the sets from a foundation of techniques and hard drilling, and only then built them into the integrated set. This approach emphasized application and understanding of the series of forms that actually comprise a set. 'Softer' areas of the style were not neglected; the Eagle Claw Flower drill was taught and drilled, as well as the style's relevant chi kung.
The camp would not have been complete without a chance for participants to 'match' with each other. Sifu Dana G. Daniels, the US National Coach for Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw, conducted two sparring seminars, providing a method for incorporating the techniques found in traditional forms of training, such as line drills and the form sets, into free-motion drills and then into set-sparring and free-sparring. The fierce active energy of the sparring training complemented the solid ferocity of Grandmaster Fu's training. Building on fundamental kung fu techniques to manipulate range, participants developed their ability to cross the gap, and also to bridge the gap, in free-sparring training. And perhaps most importantly, everyone got a chance to test-drive their new moves, some in front of the entire group.
In addition to time sweated out in the training hall, Camp participants spent time taking in the best of Seattle's scene: early evenings in Fremont, including the Fremont Street Festival, dinners in Seattle's Chinatown, a full-scale take over of the Irish Immigrant pub in the U-district, and a huge night out in local Greek taverna, Porta. In addition to contributing their kung fu vibe to the nightlife of sedate Seattle, the team hosted two extraordinary meals. On the second night of the conference Grandmaster Fu invited all participants to dine with him at the Harbor City Restaurant in Seattle's Chinatown: an excellent meal that inaugurated an exceptional event. Other nights in Chinatown were spent at Hing Loon, just the place for food, tea, and Tsingtao after training.
On the second weekend of the Camp, Mssrs. Harter and Bresnik demonstrated the art of the open grill at the Longhouse for a troop of seriously hungry practitioners. Whatever their deeds in the training hall, it didn't take them long to look at fare that the kung fu cooks grilled up! The social events rounded out the Camp to create an international Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw community (and also saw some Irish lads playing their first ever match of American football!) Participants received official Summer Camp 2004 T-Shirts designed to recognize the efforts and contributions of the participants and organizers in making this event a success.
Summer Camp 2004 was a roaring success reflecting and embodying the many successes of the Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw groups and individuals in attendance. It would not have been possible if not for the tireless efforts of Grandmaster Fu Leung and Sifu Dana G. Daniels. Already calls and emails have been pouring into Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw International from Greece, Holland, and England with requests for next year's training Camp! Summer Camp 2004 was a time of creating and renewing the bonds of family and clan that unite all Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw women and men worldwide: for those not present, we'll catch you next time!