Thursday evening, 19 April, shortly after 8:30 p.m.: departure towards Italy for Kombatan Camp 2018 in Milan. Steffi drove. On board were Torsten, Manuel and Marko from Leipzig. Finally the time had come. Milan was already on the agenda at the end of 2017, but unfortunately the camp was postponed at that time. There were problems with the entry visa of Grand Master Ernesto Presas Jr. to Italy. Now the second attempt, under optimal conditions. Lombardy in spring, that promised plenty of sunshine and a lot of motivation for a sporty weekend in southern climes.
First we went to Langenbrettach in Baden-Württemberg. Manuel's parents invited us to spend the night in the Swabian community not far from Heilbronn. Four years ago, when a delegation from Leipzig went to Milan once before, the journey turned out to be an expedition of humboldt dimensions, so that it seemed advisable to divide the route into stages this time. The start into Friday was accordingly relaxed, the farewell after a very pleasant breakfast was warm and the journey towards Switzerland was hopeful. The itinerary was impressive. After a few hours the first mountains, waterfalls from the continuous snow melt, later the impressive mountain lakes of Switzerland. At times three navigation devices were running at the same time but the topology of the route forgave short orientation difficulties fast and generous. From time to time the voices of the navigators loudly fought for attention. Soon, however, the monotony of the road tunnels broke through the heated verbal battles and the constant warning of the next tunnel entrance remained. What an excellent basis for a drinking game. We all remained sober. Steffi and Torsten regularly took turns driving. Despite traffic jams and with four hours delay we reached about 8 p.m. our hotel at the Autostrada in the south of Milan.
The hunger was meanwhile unmistakable. Diagonally opposite the hotel entrance on the other side of the parking lot we discovered a Pizzeria with much charm. The interior was unadulterated Italian and the food was sincere and very tasty. Even before the main course we saw familiar faces among the international guests. Our martial arts friends from Austria took a seat at the next table and the evening ended very relaxed.
On Saturday morning the Kombatan weekend began for us with a breakfast buffet at seven a.m.. The two Austrians had stayed at the same hotel. It was quickly decided that the two would fit into the Prius as well. With the stick bags on our laps we slowly came close to the training hall. Arnisadores were already on their way on the sidewalks. Torsten already knew the weekly market directly in front of the object from his last trip. This time he did not fall for this dead end and parked us safely in the neighborhood of the hall. After some handshaking and a first orientation at the training place a disturbing message slowly made the round among the over one hundred participants, which was confirmed soon afterwards by the dojo leaders and club trainers. Unfortunately, the Italian Embassy in Manila did not grant a visa to the Grand Master Ernesto Presas Jr. Senior Master Randy announced the hope for a later arrival of the grandmaster but everyone was already aware that this year's camp had to do without the expertise of the son of our style founder. Even the senior master could hardly hide his disappointment at the beginning. Determined to save the camp, the highest graduates of the participating clubs had already gathered in front of the IPMAF flag at the side line of the hall in the run-up to the opening under the leadership of Senior Master Remolin. Shortly after the official welcome, an Italian Guro from Randy Remolin's team started the warming up of the participants.
I myself have only been training Modern Arnis for about one and a half years and the techniques shown were quite a challenge for me. Wrong or missing terms in the following descriptions, please excuse me. The warming was short-lived and related to footwork and basic Sinawali drills. The focus of this seminar quickly became clear and Senior Master Randy made it clear with each of his movements. It was about the constant flow of techniques, about correct timing, about letting oneself in for the movements of the opponent and especially about the complete control of the situation. With the aim to bring us closer to his personal understanding of Kombatan, he showed us movement pictures of the Palis Palis. The precise technique was not important at first. From a relaxed one-on-one situation it was a matter of redirecting the opponent's attack. Following a short counter, the opponent should be invited to the next blow, then take up the new attack, trapping, final follow-up technique according to his own taste. Footwork should become particularly important here. The V-step from elementary school occurred to me again. Now I became aware of its importance. Whether with stick, knife or Mano Mano: Master Randy kept the level high. He demonstrated the movement sequences and vividly described their transferability to the various systems of the Kombatan. Relax - Movement - Timing. I will remember these words for a long time. At some point, however, I lost myself in the demanding movement sequences. It was a challenge enough to chain the individual techniques together. There was hardly any room to relax. But before the motivation could turn into frustration, the first training day was already over. The plan was: tomorrow it should run better.
The advantage of courses and training camps lies in the conviviality and the mutual exchange, even across club and graduation boundaries. The Saturday evening served this exchange and after a small walk almost without "Sightseeing", but with "Shopping" of olive oil and wine, one met in an inn. The Czech Republic and Austria were already there. Our Bohemian colleagues had already proved the importance of good Pilsner in their culture at lunchtime in the hall. Even in the evening they were not disappointed. Soon voices from all over the world could be heard in the long room at the atrium. A master from Sweden, an Irishman from Saxony and a Korean student amazed us with their knowledge of German. Together with the senior master we had pleasant conversations and so the first training day found a fitting end.
The next morning we had to give everything again. This time it went really better. To steer the dogged look briefly away from the techniques and to follow more the footwork and thus the river - that worked really well. It helped to get involved with the different partners and to talk to experienced Arnisadores. Especially for the basic movement techniques everyone had helpful tips ready and everywhere on the parquet high graduates were available for support. Some of them had the ambiguous pleasure of going through an initiation rite during their lunch break. At the threshold to the instructor or Lakan Isa, the adepts were able to prove their loyalty to the IPMAF under the impression of candle wax and belt strokes. Despite the pain, the mutual appreciation was obvious. The whole thing was later honored with certificates and congratulations from the senior master and a representative of the Philippine Embassy. After concluding words and a sincere thank you to all supporters and participants of the camp we went back over the mountains. Without going into the obligatory traffic jam in front of the partly closed Gotthard tunnel, we arrived safely in Leipzig after a short stop in Swabia. As a result of an exciting weekend 2,200 km of travel distance as well as impressive and motivating martial arts experiences remained.