Last weekend (9. – 11.12.2022) I participated in the Polish winter camp for Katori Shinto-ryu in Dojo Stara Wies. This year Ulf Rott(5.Dan) was invited as a teacher for the winter camp. He was supported by Jacek Krzeszowiec(4.Dan ,Lublin), Detlef Augustin(4.Dan, Berlin), Gerry Groenemeijer(3.Dan, Akranes), Rafał Sałapski(3.Dan, Warsaw) and Mateusz Kuduk(3.Dan, Krakow).
The Polish Winter Camp has been held annually in December since 2014. The only interruptions were during the Corona lockdown. Dojo Stara Wies is a European Budo center located about two hundred kilometers south of Warsaw. The camp is up on a hill on which the big dojo stands. Around it you can find the individual Japanese-style buildings where the martial artists stay during the camp in their free time. A further down at the bottom of the hill one finds the reception and the food hall. Each small cottage was equipped with a genkan and a wardrobe, three bathrooms, a kitchen, a tatami lined living area with carmine and 3-4 tatami bedrooms for two with futons. The sauna, tea room and small lake at the bottom of the hill should also be mentioned.
When you are on the big hill you feel like you are at the end of the world and surrounded only by nature. The silence when you were alone was magical and something that I as a city dweller experience all too rarely. The first night it was even snowing and the next day everything was white from the snow, which underlined the beauty of the place even more. Although the whole camp was in a very Japanese style, there was no Japanese food on site. But that’s not a bad thing, after all, the Polish food you got there was also very delicious.
Ulf Rott Sensei put a strong emphasis (as always) on the basics. He explained in detail why we perform the techniques as we do and explained their origin from the armored fighting. At the same time, Rott Sensei was open to questions and was always available to answer the students’ questions.
The social aspect in the evening was also very nice and very important. Often people went from house to house, met friends, drank and snacked together and talked shop with each other about the martial arts.
On Saturday evening there were also extensive exams for people who wanted to dare to the 5th Kyu, but also up to the 2nd Dan. My friend Mateusz Bryla informed me that infact 28 act persons took part in the exam that day. All gave their best, but unfortunately not everyone passed. What there was for everyone was valuable feedback from Rott Sensei.
A total of 90 people participated in the winter camp, a number that is in no way inferior to this year’s summer seminar with Sugino Sensei. In total, students from Krakow, Warsaw, Lublin, Bialstok, Szczecin and Tarnow came together, plus four Germans and one Dutchman ;). If I have misspelled any name here please forgive me and I’m thankfull for the kind hospitality of our Polish friends and their commitment and passion for the Katori Shinto-ryu!(And the beer… and the ham)