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Summer Course 2013 - Special Report!

The 2013 Summer Course was held in its adopted home of Llandudno which has become a firm favourite with the participants. People travelled from all over Great Britain, Poland and the largest contingent was the ever popular Irish group with an impressive 14 people!

This year’s summer course was extra special as Master Yau announced that John Russell was to be appointed his official successor and he presented John with his Red Sash. This was a complete surprise to John who did not know this had been planned! 

This was a very special moment for all those attending and a great privilege for people to be able to witness such an historic event in the history of Lau Gar and it was huge congratulations from all to Master Russell!

The format of the course followed previous years with the early morning start kicking off on the Monday. People chose to run, walk or perform Tai Chi exercises with Pete Hornby. John emphasised that people had to be exercising on one format or another for the full hour!

The first morning run started at the car park at the top of the Orme, but following days started at the base and people chose different routes to run and walk depending on their levels of fitness, injuries, etc. The most challenging was walking (and slowly running!) up the immediate steep hill and carrying on to the summit of the Orme. The weather was very kind so there were some spectacular morning views from the top across the sea and hills.

Breakfast and recovery was from 8am to 10am when the action started again. 

The session started with a gentle warm up led by Master Russell, followed by the stance routine and then it was on to the two person sticking hands routine that people worked on all week.

Students attending were divided into club groups (as they did last year) with two Guardians per group.

Master Russell and Morag Quirk demonstrated a short routine which people learnt over the first few days. 

Each pair of Guardians had also been asked to devise a sticking hand routine and they taught this to their groups on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 
The routine (routines) had to include the elements of striking (da), Kicking (toi), Throwing (suai), locking (na) and sticking (chi), and the aim was to present it as a choreographed fight (rather like a movie).

On Thursday and Friday the Guardians in each group assisted pairs in their group to combine and personalise the routines taught. Students introduced movements of their own at that point.

On Saturday each group nominated at least two pairs to demonstrate what they had achieved in the week. The demonstrators covered all grades and the standard of the performance and routines was extremely high showing how hard people had worked in and out of the training hall.
These routines can be entered into the new Sticking Hand Form competition in the Nationals.

Each day Master Yau took a different grade of Black Sash and went through detailed instruction on their relevant syllabus. The 5th and 6th degrees were privileged to have a session on Sticking hands with Master Yau with a number being able to practice with him and feel (or try to feel!) what was happening. It was interesting seeing him perform one handed against two hands and still completely control what was going on!

Following on from the brief introduction to Gings on the 2012 course, Pete Hornby expanded this in to a full session each day. He went through various techniques, mainly drawn from the Lau Gar sets, which targeted different aspects of Ging training. This was fast paced, very physical and tiring!

Each day people were split into their grade groups to cover syllabus work, supported by black sashes.
Walking techniques this year was led by Carl Jones who stepped in to cover as a result of Keith suffering from an injury. Carl kept everyone “amused” with the low stance (knee an inch above the floor) and had people reminding themselves that it was all for their own benefit!

Kicking techniques followed and Andy Nation brought in the old favourites of drop down spinning sweeps as well as a variety of combination kicks. David Eccles and Frankie Cooper led the much loved shaolin stamping and the day was rounded off by Morag Quirk’s yoga based warm down (which is a work out in itself!) and then meditation. 

In addition to the impromptu gatherings at the Kings Head there was the annual BBQ that was this year organised by the Scottish group. They put on a fantastic array of cooked food, vegetarian and non-vegetarian and an impressive selection of salads and fruit. It is amazing how far a few pounds each goes and the one day of rain did nothing to dampen the high spirits.

On Friday evening a function room was secured at a hotel on the seafront where people gathered for a few drinks and a lot of chat and laughs, after which those with a bit of energy left to burn headed off to a club to showcase their dancing skills!

After the demos, and stamps, etc. it was time for a Question and Answer session with Master Yau and it was particularly pleasing to see the children asking questions and being fully engaged.

Then it was on to the awarding of the certificates for the Beginners up to Orange who were all upgraded as a reward for completing the full course and then the certificates of attendance for everyone else were awarded by Master Yau.

The course was rounded off with an informal photo session and fond farewells.

The course was again a tremendous success; brilliant training, sore legs and great fun! 

Llandudno is an excellent location with many attractions in the town and within a short drive and is ideal for families. The town is lively, with a friendly atmosphere and is very well kept.

The 2014 course is again in Llandudno – 27th Aug 2014 to 2nd Aug 2014. It is suitable for all ages and abilities and the Llandudno Tourist Information Centre will source accommodation for a few pounds, which saves a lot of time and money phoning around.

As Laura Wallace from Ireland put it “Old friendships were renewed and new friendships made. It is truly an amazing course that will teach you skills and give you tips to help with your regular training in your club. My advice? Start saving!” 

Editorial by Frankie Cooper. Photographs by Andrew Nation and Rash Patel

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