Sensei Alex Buxton 3rd Dan

Ogwen Bank, 6th-10th May 2012

John Hurley


Sensei Alex Buxton 3rd DanWell as normal the Ogwen Bank course takes ages to get here and is finished in a blink of an eye, this one was no exception as it was the 40th Year the Ogwen course had been running. We had 12 of the Luton Lunatics in attendance (john” the Bosh” Hurley, Alex “Sharkey” Buxton, Jeff ”Trojan” Archer, Simon ”Penfold” Mills,  Gertjan “ The falling Dutchman” Jacobs, Piotr”Pinan” Bieługa”, Hayley ”Dimples” Blagg,  Dave”The Mank Tank” Blagg,  Klaudia “Strawberry” Kulakiewicz ,  Sky “one” Dow, Simon Locke & Dan Barrie) , initially there had been 15 but unfortunately we had three drop out. One of these was due to injury; Paul “Twitchy” Lovegrove broke his hand 2 weeks before we were due to go.


Friday evening myself and Gertjan “the falling Ducthman” Jacobs, travelled down to sunny north wales!!! We arrived at 11pm. The rest of the Luton Lunatics were due to arrive the following day. So we had time to relax after a long journey.  Once the rest of the lunatics had arrived we adjourned to the pub for a few beverages to socialise with all the other HKK members.


Day one arrived and a bunch of Luton Lunatics full of excitement hit the battlefield. After a brief warm up and stretch we partnered up for the first fight of the week. As the change overs were quick we managed to get 5 fights in, which was great. Equally I now know how General Custer felt; when Sensei Spanton shouted attack Luton, they came for Alex and myself at all angles. It’s great to be popular.


Morning session over we retired to our caravans for breakfast and a kip to make sure we kept our energy levels high. The next 2 session flew by as did the whole week even though it was a day longer. The only disappointment was that the final morning session was rained off so the Ogwen Virgins couldn’t be dunked, so we dunked them in puddles to make up for it.


As the Luton Lunatics have all written their own individual reports I am keeping my own brief as I feel that their level of enthusiasm and excitement where the course is concerned reflects that of my own.


The whole Luton Club would like to thank Sensei Spanton for another fantastic course as always and am already looking forward to Ogwen 2013.


Dave Blagg


Sun, rain and the sweet smell of Deep Heat – it can only be Ogwen 2012 40th Anniversary. A fantastic week of training and socialising with our Higashi fraternity, with the added spice of a potential grading for two of our club. Luton was well represented, with a total of 12 attendees and by Sunday morning all had congregated for the first morning’s ‘Battlefield’ – a new experience for some, a welcome return for others – I love the fact that if you put yourself out there, at least one of the senior grades will give you some coaching (and a dig or two!). 1st session over and no major injuries, now on to the diary filming and the first of Alex’s running Sky jokes (groan!). Two Dojo sessions followed and I really took a lot from these sessons, all week, getting a good understanding of how & why our katas work. This was how the week progressed with everyone learning and doing Luton proud. All to soon, Wednesday afternoon arrived and it was announced that there would be a grading and Alex & Hayley would take part; a nerve-racking hour followed, plenty of encouragement from the crowd and great spirit and determination from the gradees – results at 7pm. The clubhouse was packed as Sensei Spanton handed out certificates and licences, Luton romped home with every eligible person moving up a grade, including our new Sandan and Shodan – well done to Alex & Hayley.


What can I highlight from Ogwen 2012? The enjoyment of listening to the two ‘virgins’ in my van talk about what they will do differently next year, the fantastic amount of knowledge that you can take on board if you want to, oh and an up-grade to 2nd Kyu; bring on 2013!


Gertjan Jacobs


When my mates back home heard about my plans for the may break (an skillfully named holiday break of a week in may at most universities) they thought I was insane. While they would use their well deserved break to take a few days off in search of the golden sun, white beaches and blue seas, I would go to one of the rainiest country known to man. To the middle of nowhere in the rainiest country known to man to be more exact. Looking back I dare to say it was my best May break ever.


It was a great experience, five days dedicated to the thing you like (karate), five days spending time with people that like the thing you like, five days (well four in the end) of being beaten up on some shitty (literally) grass field in the middle of… you probably can guess where. It was great to see so many familiar faces again, not just the lunatics which I did not see for over 9 to 12 Months, depending on who attended the course in London in September. Totaling up to roughly 10 weeks of practice when counting the hours, and a vast unknown amount of years of experience gathered in one spot, Ogwen most certainly was worth the time, money and effort of going to. Even if I am able to retain 5 to 10% of the things I learned from sparring with the many Dan grades that came to Ogwen, as well as the line and kata work and the instructions of Shihan Spanton on the parking lot, I dare to say I have learned a lot – and with results; I learned a new kata (with it’s application) and was awarded a promotion to 6th Kyu, something I completely did not see coming as I thought I was not eligible for a grading.


If all goes well I will be starting at the Dutch Royal Naval Academy in September, and thus will be in training next year May – hopefully I will be able to attend Ogwen ’13 (please all write a letter to the Dutch Queen Beatrix to ask for permission to get me to Wales! ), I am looking forward to see you next time on the muddy battlefield!


Jeffery Archer


After missing out on the Ogwen Bank Course last year I was very much looking forward to attending the 40th Anniversary Course for what would be my 7th time, and I was not disappointed.


The morning sessions on the battlefield started out with exercises and then the Kumite began, with some of the days leading into 5-6 separate fights. The following sessions of kata and basics were varied and always interesting, plus you are given the chance to train with people from other clubs in the federation which can lead to a better understanding and fresh perspective of the techniques you are practising.


I came away from the course as always feeling sore and tired but I had a great time, learnt a lot and spent time with a fantastic bunch of dedicated martial artists. I hope the Ogwen tradition will continue and definitely plan to return next year.


Simon Mills


Reflecting back on the week that was the 40th Anniversary Ogwen Bank HKK Summer Camp I would say what makes it so special was the sharing of knowledge and helping each other in peer groups, the coaching on the battlefield from the dan grades, being taught and inspired by our Chief Instructor and especially the chance to spend quality time with some extremely knowledgeable and friendly like-minded people who all share the same passion for karate. The icing on the cake for me was to be promoted to 2nd kyu. After a 20+ year break from Higashi I was reassessed last year (at Ogwen) to be the same grade I was all those years ago. This was a really big deal to me. It felt like coming home and being welcomed with open arms by my long lost family. This year, to actually be promoted after a year of hard work and considerable weight loss somehow meant even more to me. Words cannot describe how I feel right now. I dedicate my achievement to my fellow Luton Lunatics and to senseis John Hurley, Alex Buxton and Jeff Archer for making me part of the family and for giving me the coaching and the drive to constantly push myself harder and harder to be the best karateka that I can be. GO LUTON!


Sky Dow


Ogwen 2012 was unforgettable. The swollen Ogwen river with the backdrop of the Snowdon range was awesome, it made the morning battlefield seem unreal. Black belts outnumbered the lower grades by at least 2 to 1 which meant lots of learning and lots of bruises.


The car park dojo training was a workout as well as a brain tease, with lots of combinations and lots of press ups! and I have to mention the grading, through blood and tears Alex and Hayley were remarkable and were awarded their dan grades! It was a trip to remember 🙂


Piotr Bieługa


And so, the 40th Ogwen Bank Course had come to pass. For me it was my second time around enjoying the experience and I must say, it has not failed to meet my expectations – to be more specific I was surprised to discover even more muscles of which existence I was not aware before the course.  This year’s Ogwen training consisted of five days of body-breaking workout and mind-twisting excercises that forced all Karate-kas to not only give it all they’ve had, but push themselves beyond their limits.  For me, personally, coming back to training in such a hardcore way after four months of break was… well, a bit of a shock for the first two days. Luckily enough, Shihan Spanton was kind enough to wear us down so much that I had hardly any energy left to even think about it. You would think that doing the drill of three sessions of excercises for five consecutive days would be boring – oh, believe me, you could not get further away from the truth!


Each morning, an early call – 7:30 on the spot, everybody at the infamous battlefield by the river bank. Since as a Lunatic, I don’t think there is a better way to wake myself up than having a fist stuck in my face, that is exactly what I had (trust me, this way beats the morning coffee)! Being a green belt surrounded by a swarm of Dan Grades, I have not left the battlefield feeling even a tiny bit sleepy. Not a single time. Ogwen Morning Sessions are the kind of experience, which if you manage to survive, you will never forget.


The sparring sessions in the morning were quickly followed up by two, roughly two hour sessions of line work, mind-flexing katas, bunkai and exciting combinations. Sounds easy? Doing Pinan-Shodan with application, starting to the right, alternating height of punches, kicking on forward movement and punching before changing the direction… all in one go was surely not as easy as it sounds. Or trying to copy a thirteen-moves combination of Shihan Spanton after seeing it just two times was as great fun as any other of the numerous excercises. I cannot, however, decide on what was more fun – doing the excercises myself, or seeing some of the Dan grades drop down to the press up position after getting some of the pinan katas wrong. That is surely a rare sight, to mark the high standards required of the Higashi Black Belts.


Working our way through hot sun, or a downfall of rain, I think it’s not just our bodies and minds that were put to the test, but our spirits too. The training itself was also probably the hardest grading there is around, consisting of a total of about 25 hours of workout. Having mentioned  that, I am very proud to say that of all the Luton Lunatics, everybody who was allowed to grade left Ogwen Bank with some bruises, a few scars, an aching body and a brand new belt around their waste! Now that’s something ! But that is not all. On the fourth day, a Dan grading took place. It was a brilliant show of true spirit. Why? After  four days of training with Shihan, your body is completely gone, along with your mind which is overloaded with new techniques and combinations. The one thing you have left, though, is the spirit to drive you forward and that was something we have all witnessed during the Dan grading. One of the gradees damaged their hip during one of the techniques, but managed to carry on, hold it all in and perform  every technique to the best of their ability all the way until the grading was finished. An absolutely stunning show of spirit from all the Dan grades that took part in the grading.


Sadly enough, the last day’s morning was so rainy, it was too dangerous to visit the battlefield as the water level in the river was too high, so the brand new Ogwen Virgins of the Lunatics had to complete their Ogwen dunking in… well… a paddle, but oh well, tradition is a tradition and has to be honoured.


There is not a thing I regret in the five days I have spent training up in Wales with all the phenomenal people. The atmosphere, the training, brand new knowledge, experience of a lifetime and a shiny purple belt around my waist are things that made this 40th anniversary Ogwen Bank Course absolutely special. If I get an opportunity, with all my heart, mind and spirit I am coming back next year to, hopefully,  join the ranks of Brown Belts!


Simon Locke


My experience of been an Ogwen virgin.Was really looking forward to the week ahead as had heard from everyone that they really enjoyed it.  The journey up was good and Ogwen park was better than i expected. The people from other clubs where really friendly and welcoming.  First day arriving there was good as no training or anything that day, just settling in. Then the stories about the battlefield and injuries started!!!! Getting a bit nervous by now, couple of beers helped that though. First day of training got up ready to go to the battlefield, now I’m thinking what have I let myself in for. After having survived it I was glad as it was not as bad as I thought. Actually really enjoyed it. Then the lessons where really good as was learning new things, and they seemed to go really quickly.  After the first day I was thinking that this was ok and what was everyone talking about ( been hard and injuries ). Been a low grade it is obviously a lot easier compared to what the higher grades are expected to do!!!! Then as the week went on it started getting harder and I was finding aches and pains and bruises. By the end of the week I was looking forward to the last lesson (getting tired now ), but was really disappointed in missing out on the battlefield in the morning due to bad weather. Also not getting thrown in the river! Would have enjoyed that!!!!! The degrading act of rolling around in a puddle was a lot worse I thought. I was so happy to receive my next grade. Along with all the others who did as well! Watching the higher grades go for their belts was good as well, shows how tough it is and how hard you have to work!!!! It was a great experience and cant wait to go again, think they should do one every month!!!!!!!


Dan Barrie


I have only been training with the club from late last year therefore this was my first Ogwen experience.  When I decided I wanted to go I didn’t know really what to expect, all I could anticipate was pain and being soaked as it is Wales. Having said that I wasn’t beaten to bad at all and Wales had its yearly bit of sun for us.


When we got to the site it was surprisingly sunny and the caravan was very spacious with plenty of facilities which was a good start.  After having unpacked our things including a fine selection of tinned food and pot noodles which would see me through the next 5 days we all went down to the bar. It was a good way to meet the people from the other clubs before meeting them on the battle field the following day and a good way to bond with the fellow Lunatics.


The first day we was up at 7 to be ready for fighting at 7:30 which wasn’t ideal as I’m not the best morning person. Having woken up to a glorious morning I anxiously made my way down to the battle field still not quite knowing what I was going to. After warming up we got starting with the sparing. There was a lot of higher grades which was very beneficial as they coached very well, after being hit in the face quite a bit for dropping my guard. As the course progressed I felt I improved on a day to day basis becoming quicker with more confidence and a better guard.


After the morning battle field sessions we had a further two sessions which consisted of basics, combinations and Kata with Sensei Peter Spanton. I struggled a bit for the first couple of days being as it was all new to me but with some good coaching and hard work I picked it all up really well learning 3 new Katas. Ogwen was not only a great karate course but a very good time to socialise in the evening at the onsite bar with the Lunatics and fellow club members. I felt this was a good way to reflect on the days events and unwind from a hard days training.


I feel Ogwen went very quickly and the last day had arrived before we knew it. I was disappointed that on the last day that it threw it down with rain, not surprising really and the last battle field session had to be cancelled. Due to this the tradition of throwing the “Ogwen virgins” into the river couldn’t go ahead. However this wasn’t the end of it, instead we had to lower ourselves into a puddle and roll around in it, great. Personally I would have rather been thrown into the river while it was bursting its banks. As a whole Ogwen was a great experience and gained me a red belt. I learnt so much in such a short space of time and would like to thank everyone for their help and coaching. I look forward to going back next year and would certainly recommend going to anyone.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.