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Summer Course 2014 Report

Summer course 2014 sizzles as Masters teach 

Another year, another Lau Gar Kung Fu Summer course. For almost 40 years, Lau Gar students from across the country have gathered for a week of high quality training and this year was no exception. Students came from far and wide – travelling from all over the UK, Ireland and even Poland so that they didn’t miss out on training with two Lau Gar masters in Llandudno, North Wales. Between them, Master Yau and Master Russell have over one hundred years of training under their belts, meaning their teachings over the course are rooted in vast experience and expertise. In addition, the course and teaching were supported by Lau Gar Guardians. Additionally the more senior students on the course supported the less experienced, with over half the group black sashes. There was a mix of students, male and female, of all ages, who all equally trained hard and relished the training opportunities across the week. 

The early morning session involved a walk, run or Qigong practice across the Great Orme and seafront – an energising start to the day with wonderful views. Training in the gym was non-stop. The themes of the week were taught by three Lau Gar Guardians, Keith Thomas, Robin Sunley and Pete Hornby. Keith and Robin encouraged the exploration of “bridging the gap”, which involved partner work to practice blocking and striking effectively using footwork tactics. This led to lively feet, finger locks and throat punches aplenty. Pete Hornby inspired through teaching stick exercises that support the generation of “ging” – generating power internally from the waist and use of the breath. The training of “ging” was further expanded through a section of the course each day led by Master Yau, where he passed on his wisdom around training power and strength, internally and externally. The training during the week balanced the development of both internal and external strength. The external training in the gym culminated in dynamic and vigorous Shaolin stamping exercises and the internal with a yoga warm down and meditation to quieten the mind. All the training during the week linked together to provide rounded practice and development for students at all levels.  
 
The summer course is a special week, particularly due to the comradery developed through shared passion and enthusiasm. Students come back to the course year after year meaning friendships build and experiences grow. This is further strengthened through the animated social element to the course, with a group of students from a different location nominated each year to organise a Wednesday BBQ for all on the course and their partners and families. Subsequently, the Friday night this year involved a get together at a local hotel with entertaining Karaoke, all organised by the group from Ireland.   

All in all, the Lau Gar summer course is a week of fun, sweat and learning so don’t miss out on next year’s course.
 

Testimonials

Ella Walls, aged 10
“The summer course is a wonderful experience, especially to develop your Kung Fu skills. Each day we go out for a morning run, walk or Tai Chi with Pete. My favourite part was when we did the "hung ha" exercises with Master Yau, it was an incredible experience to train with him. It is so good having help from senior guardians, I especially appreciate the help with my brown sash from Master Russell. I enjoyed the summer course greatly, despite a sprained ankle!” 

Ethan Walls, aged 7
“I like the Summer Course because you get to learn different self defence moves, which is fun. It was funny having a six foot pole because I am tiny but I enjoyed the challenge. The meditation is the hardest bit for me. Master Yau is very helpful and friendly.”

Aimee Seymour
“It is very difficult to condense the Lau Gar Summer Course into words on a page and accurately convey the magnitude of the whole experience and enormous sense of achievement attained through the sweat and perseverance of those who attend. The 2014 course was my ninth. As with many others, I turned up for my first Summer Course nervous, unsure if I would cope and harbouring an enormous hunger to learn more, train hard and improve. To my delight, not only was my hunger completely satisfied, I coped extremely well and was pushed more and more each day both towards and through barriers I had not caught sight of before. I learnt many new techniques that enhanced and expanded all areas of my practice, met students and instructors from all over the country and returned home fitter, stronger, with a deeper understanding of Lau Gar and a new found hunger for the Summer Course! 

Having just returned home from my ninth course, the sense of achievement, enhancement to my practice and physical transformation I have attained in just one week is no less intense than that of my first course. The main theme of the course is different each year, the overall content evolves and they seem to get better and better every year. The 2014 theme delivered by Keith Thomas and Robin Sunley of "Bridging the Gap" had us all concentrating on our footwork and maintaining the correct distance with our opponent so we could evade or divert an attack then move to, or retain a strong enough position to retaliate effectively. We learnt various techniques then moved on to experiment and create our own variations that worked best for us. We also found ourselves recognising the different stepping techniques being taught in our sets, blocks and other areas of the Lau Gar syllabus thus feeding back into and strengthening our understanding of these areas. Overall, "Bridging the Gap" was a brilliant and enjoyable theme, not only teaching us some new techniques but also leading to an enhancement of our existing techniques.

The overall structure of the 2014 Summer Course was slightly different to previous years, giving us more, slightly shorter, sections. This worked incredibly well as we had the benefit of training many aspects every day and seeing a big improvement in all of these areas. Most of the kicks and walks were based on the movements being taught within the theme. We had a fantastic new daily Ging section with Pete Hornby using flexible poles and were treated to a brilliant short power Ging section led by Master Yau which caused my arms to feel like they were about to explode! I am convinced that I have returned home with larger shoulders mainly due to these two Ging sections! 

As with every Summer Course, it is incredible to be able to learn from and train side by side with such an inspirational, hard working, friendly bunch of people. The vast improvement in both my own performance and in those around me in such a short space of time is incredible and certainly sees me return back to normal life with the knowledge that nothing is impossible and, of course, the need to go on the Summer Course again next year!”


Article written by Riona Hornby.



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