2015 Winter Camp Highlights

We are so proud of the huge success of the WYKKO 35th Annual Winter Workout held on Feb. 20-21, 2015 at Pensacola Beach.  We would like to highlight just a few of the special moments and activities of the event.

Our weekend began on Feb. 20th with an awesome group of students testing for Black Belt promotions.  This group consisted of 4 students testing for Shodan and 2 for Nidan.  We were very pleased with the high spirits, stamina, and focus that the students exhibited throughout the testing!  Thanks to these students and their families for their hard work and diligence and to the dedicated instructors preparing our students.

The second day of the workout began with moderate temperatures of about 66 degrees, but very strong winds of up to 30 mph prevailed and also created waves close to 6 ft. at times.  It was immediately evident that red flags would be eminent to warn of the dangerous undercurrents present.  Despite any obstacles, a dedicated group of about 140 students poured onto the sandy beaches that morning.

The first activity on the agenda had nothing to do with Yoshukai katas, weapons, or physical fighting.  Instead, it began with one of the attributes that WYKKO students are best known for; sharing strength of heart, mind, and body to uplift and support others.  As many people know, Soke Yamamoto, founder of Yoshukai Karate, has been battling cancer for many months.  He cares very much for his students in WYKKO, his only recognized Yoshukai organization in the

U. S., and is uplifted by the care, love, and prayers of its students towards him.  In Soke’s honor, all students formed a heart on the beach with a raised fist to let him know he is in their hearts always and remind him of “Yoshukai Strong”.  Photos were taken and shared by many on Facebook.  Soke, being very sick at the time, was shown one of the pictures and smiled, indicating that he can't give up and must remain strong for his students.  He looks at the pictures often to gather strength from the support.  A canvas poster was made from one of the photos and mailed to him in Japan so that he may easily view it at any time as a reminder that his students are always thinking of and praying for his strength and healing.

After the photo, Yoshukai students did warm up exercises together before breaking into group sessions.  A variety of activities  were available for all levels of students, with instruction provided by some of our very skilled and enthusiastic instructors.  Thank you to Mr. Tony Adams for his special Black Belt presentation about demonstrating and teaching respect and manners toward others.  Other sessions provided instruction and practice in katas, weapons, sparring, and full contact training.  As a special treat, a variety of sessions were also provided specifically for family members and guests.  They included family fitness, self-defense, the history of WYKKO, and support training for parents or families of karate students.  It was a very busy training day with big successes and always hard work, combined with a barrel of fun, always inevitable of our many creative instructors.  Due to the inability to complete the workout with training in the gulf waters, some of the instructors cleverly devised a wet moment for the students.  Students gathered in the water’s edge on their knees, and as they practiced basic training, buckets of ocean water was thrown on them.  Of course, a few of the adults ventured into the edge of the water.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the day, and to those of you unable to attend, you were missed as always, and we hope to see you at the next event or soon!

After an opportunity to shower and change into dry clothes from the workout, the WYKKO instructors were asked to gather for a presentation of etched crystal plaques from the directors of WYKKO, Hiroaki Toyama and Mike Culbreth, along with their wives, Denese Culbreth and Donna Toyama.  Refreshments and a short time of fellowship was enjoyed just as a small gesture to let them know that even though not often said enough, they and their supportive families are appreciated more than words can express!

There are so many people to be grateful to for their hard work and dedication.  First, thank you to everyone that attended the workout, many making efforts to travel from long distances including CA, GA, SC, AL, PA, and FL.  Thanks to Mr. Josh McCullars, Mr. Erik Hofmeister, and Ms. Sherrie Hines for many hours spent in planning, contacting others, and for organizing and supervising the schedule.  Thank you to Mr. Gerry Blanck and his very busy and helpful assistant, Ms. Ashley Harrison, for traveling from CA and all of the assistance provided in your hometown.  Thank you to Mr. Sea Dog Selak for arranging the seafood lunch  buffet at Crab’s Restaurant.  Thank you to the finest and most dedicated group of Black Belts and instructors that can be found.  You always arise to every occasion, going over and beyond, putting the needs of the students first!  Thanks to the many others that have assisted in these many areas.  Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Culbreth and Mr. and Mrs. Toyama for provided arrangements and support.  Thank you mostly to all of the WYKKO family for supporting one another and supporting  Soke, who has said, “to make him keep fighting”.  Thanks for all you do everyday, all year, to make this not only a strong organization that encourages and cares for others, but one that can be well respected!  “Yoshukai strong!”   Osu!

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