Last week I witnessed an incredible martial arts event in Belgium. It’s roots began just ten years ago when some Budo friends from America got on an airplane to visit friends in Belgium to share some martial arts training ideas while enjoying the sights. After just a few annual friendly visits fast forward ten years later, I got to meet and train with an incredible group of Kosho Ryu Kempo Practitioners and teachers. Not to mention the enormous gathering of other teachers and Budoka at the end of the week.
Sensei Bart DeBkr, the director of the Kosho Ryu Branch in Belgium is one of the hardest working teachers I have ever met. His students are of incredible character and skill and the hospitality they showed me was unmatched. I learned so much training and sharing with these folks, not to mention the laughs and fun we had. I was in awe as they truly displayed their spirit in budo as I watched them train with each other. Although these fine folks don’t regard themselves highly, they take Kosho Ryu Kempo very very seriously. We trained very hard during Sensei Jeff Driscoll’s Kempo Boot camp for three hard hitting days from 10am to 5pm. This old school of hard work dedication is something clubs here in America is seriously lacking as they took me back to the 80’s of tireless training and sore chins. Every day was a lesson to me as I witnessed an incredible display of budo. Even with the beginner Kyu ranks as they displayed sincerity in their kata and strikes while performing flow drills. These gals and guys do not mess around! I was immediately taking mental inventory of myself and my own students with a raised eyebrow. I look forward to another visit. Sensei Bart is a quality leader.
I learned Sensei’s undertaking of his European Gathering for the past several years has done nothing but grow! Although his friends, family and students provide and incredible support and assistance, it is his shoulders in which the day rests upon. Sensei Bart simply told me that all he cares about each year is that “We have no serious injuries and everyone has fun.” I learned immediately that the European Gathering is not about selling tickets but rather about continuing the sharing of these incredible Arts so they continue when the current teachers are gone. My teacher Sensei Driscoll always states that “Martial Arts has the ability to unlock the human potential.” Gatherings such as this sure do demonstrate this statement!
The Gathering itself was held at an enormous facility in a town called Wetteren Belgium. Four sections of matted floors were arranged as four teachers were teaching all day at the same time in 45-55 minute classes. It was incredible! Within an Eight hour span one could learn Ju-jutsu, Karate, Wing Chung, Iaido, Krav Maga, Escrima, Goshinjutsu ground fighting (and of course Kempo). I spent as much time as I could with different teachers and students. There was so much to learn!
I was also privileged to teach Kempo and to take Uke for my friend Sensei Steven Bonk as he also taught Kempo. What really made me so happy was not one Ego was in the facility and applause was given for each and every teacher at the end of each session. Students of all abilities were eager and great-full for the opportunity to meet the teachers. I was great-full for meeting the other students and teachers as well. To be considered one of the instructors at this event humbled me and I was thrilled to share the wonderful art of Kosho Ryu Kempo.
After the event we all went upstairs for the tasty pasta banquet along with some of the finest Belgium beers on the planet! We all talked, met wives and friends while sharing with each other the day’s experiences. It was an incredible week with some incredible people!
I highly recommend attending this event to anyone that has the opportunity. I also look forward to the next Gathering in Reno Nevada coming up this fall in 2019.
I would also like to thank Sensei’s Bart Dbckr , Marc Mebis , Jeff Driscoll, Steven Bonk for the time spent with me. I would like to humbly thank the teachers and students at the gathering for your time with me and ESPECIALLY my new friends at Kosho Ryu Belgium!