Lancaster 2019

Last week a group of us from the Handbridge and Westminster Park clubs went on our annual trip to the Lancaster summer camp.

These were : David Craggs, George Craggs, Thomas Land and his wife Monika, Kouke and Mia Hirakawa with their father Mitsu and Louise Coleman with her family, Lisa, Jonathon and Harvey.

I decided this year to do a write of the week. You can see them below.

Lancaster 2019 – Arrival Day

Lancaster 2019 – Day 1

Lancaster 2019 – Day 2

Lancaster 2019 – Day 3

Lancaster 2019 – Day 4

Lancaster 2019 – Day 5

A great time was had by all with a fantastic grading result on the last day with Louise Coleman getting her Shodan and and Thomas Lang getting Nidan.

Lets see if we can get a bigger group next year!



Lancaster 2019 – Day 5

Day 5 and knee is still sore, but I’m going to train! This is the big day, only one training session but following that is both a Kyu and Dan grading. Thomas Lang will be going for 2nd Dan and Louise Coleman 1st Dan. Pouring down with rain, so we drive over. We have been so lucky with the weather this week, I guess we can’t complain.

Senior class is taken by Sensei Higgins. Today is review day so we go through all the kata we have practised during the week interspersed with kumite. Again we are joined by Sensei O’Connor.

Great session as usual, final bow and the training is over.

Sensei Poynton gathers everyone round for the final chat of the week. The KUGB are raffling a signed t-shirt for charity. The draw was made and the winner was – Kouki Hirakawa. As the shirt is XXXL it will be a while before it fits him!

Now back to the room for a quick shower and it’s back over for the grading.

There are a lot of very nervous people waiting in the sports hall for the grading to start. Everyone lines up, bows to Sensei Sherry and Sensei Brennan and the grading starts. First on are the brown belts going for Shodan. They all come out in groups and do their stuff. First the kihon, then Bassai Dai followed by the kumite. Kumite is first the prearranged sparring followed by freestyle. Louise Coleman comes up and performs her grading really well. After the brown belts grade, it’s the turn of the black belts going for Nidan. Thomas Lang comers up and performs a really strong Jitte. Then the first part of the grading is over.

Now is the time where you see if you have done enough to be called up to do a final kata. Brown belts start being called up and each are given a different Heian kata to perform. Make a mistake here and you will fail your grading with kata only. Group after group get called out and no Louise. Nerves are tense, but, yes, she gets called up. A really good performance of Heian Godan and now to wait for Thomas.

Thomas gets called up pretty quick and again performs a strong kata, this time Jion. And the grading is over.

Then everyone gathers in front of the table for the announcements. Louise Coleman Shodan! Thomas Lang Nidan!

Great result and there will be celebrations to come.

Lancaster 2019 is now over. Time to finish packing and return home. Looking forward to Lancaster 2020!



Lancaster 2019 – Day 4

Day 4. Sore knee and general aches and pains. Thomas Lang is planning to take the day off to rest before the Dan grading session on Friday. I was planning to train 2nd class, but decided to also have a rest day. So I went over to the sports centre to take photos of the first class.

This time the senior class is taken by Sensei Poynton. Usual technical session with kata of the day being Tekki Sandan.

Back to the room and we can plan a day out.  The location of Lancaster is great for days out as you have the coastline nearby and of course the Lake District. This alongside the available sports facilities is one of the reasons this is such a great holiday and not just for those doing karate.

George decides to stay and train with Sensei Rhodes as he really enjoys the bunkai sessions.

So that leaves Thomas and Monika and myself to plan our trip.

We pick on Levens Hall near Kendal. This is a really nice Elizabethan house with spectacular gardens.

After a nice cup of tea with cake with then moved on to SilverDale on the coast, this is National Trust and has wonderful views.

Quick pint in the local pub before heading back for a homemade chicken and pasta bake. The again onto the Herdwig for a few pints before bed.

Day 5 – Grading Day!

Lancaster 2019 – Day 3

Day 3 and my knee is not too bad, so another training session looms. Decided to drive over so we could get back quick to eat breakfast before the 11am lecture.

First session is Sensei Frank Brennan. Class starts with an number of combinations going forwards and back. Going quite well or so I thought. Then comes the booming voice of Sensei from the other side of the room MR CRAGGS! Snap your punch! First one of the week. But thankfully that was the only one .

Then onto kumite. Three different block and counters for jodan and three for chudan. I was grateful there were no kicks involved!

Today’s kata is Gojushiho Dai – nice the get a refresher on that.

Class then finished off with the same kumite but speedo. Another class over and apart from sore knees, feeling good.

A quick drive over to the room for breakfast then it is onto the annual KUGB lecture. The lecture is normally shared between Ivan Birch and Ian MacLaren. As Ivan is away working in the USA, his part was prerecorded. The theme was preparation for gradings which was insightful. Ian talked about kata and it’s importance in karate.

After the lecture we know rush over to the sports hall for the 2nd class. Back to taking photos. Senior class is taken by Sensei Sherry and was VERY well attended.

Sensei Michael O’Connor joined us for the day training in both classes.

After the 2nd class there was another Dan Grading class. Training in this class in addition to yesterdays class were Louise Coleman and Thomas Lang who flew over from Germany especially to attend this course. This is an annual event for him. Thomas has trained in every class so far this week!

After class it’s again time for a well earned steam and shower and then back to our accommodation.

Evening meal was at the Waggon and Horses in Lancaster for a very nice meal. We were joined by Michael O’Connor, so there was a lot of conversations about karate over the years.

And then time for bed.

Day 4.

Lancaster 2019 – Day 2

Day 2 and again no rain. Fortunately the weather seems to be defying the forecasts! Quick cup of tea and it’s off the the sports centre for the first session of the day.





I’m back taking photos. Richard Naylor Jones is training, so the deal is I take photos of him first session and he takes some of me in the next one. It is nice sometimes to have proof  I was here! As Sensei Sherry comes in he asks me if I can take some videos using his camera. So off I trot, my camera on one side and Sensei’s on the other. Unfortunately after 10 minutes Sensei’s camera runs out of battery so I am back just taking pics.

Session over and it’s back to the room for breakfast and to don my gi for the second time this week.

Next up is a Sensei Billy Higgins brain scrambler. We start off doing many different combinations that I know we will be using in partner work later on. It does help (a little) that I have done these before. But given my current lack of fitness I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up. So partner up time. Great – I get someone young and fast! so off we go, A rough start and we get going – wow this is going well. We work through a few of the routines and then we get put into threes. We are joined again By Adam Willsmore. Now this routine I definitely know, I even use it sometimes in my classes. So I start in the middle and off we go. We all get a go and then it back to me. Sensei says do it 3 times, one slow, one medium and the last strong. I look at the young lad and we nod. So that’s three times strong 🙂

Then we get put into twos again, but this time there is an odd number, so I bow out as my knee is starting to hurt and the last thing I want to do now is overdo it.

Kata Time – Jitte.  A few times to the count fairly fast and then no count. Then we switch to Kihon Kata with kicks. My legs are feeling it now, and my knee is complaining about doing more work in one session than it has done in a long long while.

Feeling tired now, but Sensei Higgins has not finished with us yet! Back into threes and we all get allocated a number. Continuous freestyle with Billy calling numbers. When your number is called the other two attack you and it goes around and around. And we are finished, well at least I am.

After breakfast at the accommodation, it’s back to the sports centre to take photos.

This time the seniors have Sense Bob Rhodes for another of his full on Bunkai Classes. Kata was again Jitte. At the end of the class some of the young fast KUGB members demonstrated the Bunkai routine.

It’s now a half hour break and then  the Dan grade class starts. So it’s back to taking a few photos until 2pm when the Instructors assessment starts. Now that my son George has passed his 2nd Dan he can now do the assessment.

George and another candidate had to do a mini 15 minute class each with the volunteers. After the class there was a number of questions to asses knowledge of the KUGB. And its a pass all round!!

Now back to my room to post photos while George moves on to the BO class.

George calls me early to pick him up from the Bo Class. There is a mains water problem and half of Lancaster has no water and they are closing the sports centre. This is a worry for tomorrows training and tonight’s meal.

We pop out to the pub round the corner for a meal and sure enough it’s not serving food thanks to the water problem. Fortunately the Stork a bit further out does have water and is serving food. We have been here before a few times, nice food and beer and there are very nice walks around the area.

Then it’s time for a couple of red wines before retiring to bed.

Day 3.

Lancaster 2019 – Day 1

And here we are day 1. I look out of the windows and…. no rain – phew. Quick cup of tea and it’s gi on ready for the first walk up to the sports centre.

It’s always great to chat to fellow karateka and see all the old faces from previous years.

I had an a knee op  last October which was successful, but I was still getting pain. I have recently found out I have a cyst on the knee and also a bad back, so my plan was to take painkillers and train through. Guess who forgot to take his pain killers this morning!

So after the warm up it was a session with Sensei Sherry with Sensei Frank Brennan always there watching. And we know he does not miss ANYTHING! Starting off with basics but in great detail we quickly moved on to kumite. I partnered up with Adam Willsmore, a dedicated regular to these events. I was pleased my knee and back held out. Next on to Bassai Dai in great detail. As usual with Sensei Sherry we finished off with more kumite. So my first proper training session since my knee op 9 months ago was over. And a bonus was getting through the whole class without Sensei Brennan booming MR CRAGGS <insert something wrong here>.

Back to the room for breakfast and change out of my gi before the next session.

For the last few years I have cut back to one training session  a day. During the classes where I’m not training I take photos, often along side Richard Naylor-Jones who takes the official KUGB photos.  I then post my photos onto Facebook. Many a time I have prompted a Facebook profile picture change.

Then a nice steam and sauna before the walk back.

In the afternoon there is a BO class taken by Sensei Ian Maclaren. I drove over to take my son George to attend the class. I have joined in myself in previous years, but I’m saving my energy for the main classes this year.


A nice meal and then it’s onto the social at the Red Lion on campus. Nice to see everyone, but sadly the University seemed to forget that a bar really needs beer.




After a while a few of us went over to the Grad Bar (aka the Herdwig) for some proper beer.

It was really nice discussing karate with Senseis Billy Higgins, Bob Rhodes and Ian MacLaren.

Then to bed to prepare for Day 2.



Lancaster 2019 – Arrival Day

It’s that time of year. The KUGB annual summer school at Lancaster University. This will be our 8th consecutive year.

The journey up was uneventful until the heavens opened. When we arrived thankfully the rain had stopped. Now we had to do the search to find Carol and Christine to pick up the keys. That done we unloaded the car and settled ourselves into our accommodation. Two minutes later the heavens opened and the thunder started.

As we where on the ground floor we had a good view of rather bedraggled arrivals wading through large puddles.

We then hoped this wasn’t the start of the wettest Lancaster we have been too. The daily walk to the sports centre is no fun in the pouring rain!

After settling in it was time for our our annual trip to the Plough for a nice meal and a pint or two.

This time we didn’t escape the rain, but it was worth the effort.

A couple of glasses of wine back at the accommodation and it was time for bed to rest for the exertions of Day 1.