Sensei Velibor Dimitrijevic, 7th dan, Loutraki / Greece, October 26-28, 2012

Karate Camp at Sport Camp attracts forever and I've been there many times over the years, but this time it would be a little different for several reasons. Expectations were high, firstly, it was a weekend camp in October, during the winter. Secondly, we were eight from the club that would go traveling together: Mike, Susanne, Bob, Jack, Attila, Christopher, Philip and me. Third, Mike and I would stay in Athens the following week, to train in Sensei Vebos dojo.

We found quite quickly that Greek winter is like Swedish summer. When the camp was over on Sunday, we went down to the beach in Loutraki and found 26+ was very good. Greek October weather is perfect for training. Traveling eight from the club was just fun and we got to know each other well during these days. We lived next to each other on the Sports Camp.

This weekend's camp was of course very good and exercising superb as usual. There were also participants from England (Norman, Dave and Mark) and of course many of the home club Honbudo Dojo Athens. Mark and Jack hit it off quickly because both are from Australia. It's always fun to meet fellow countrymen from different parts of the world!

On Monday, Mike's and my trip continued to Athens, where our friend George took care of us. It turned out that the journey home to the other was a special experience that Susanne will retell the end of this trip report.

We stayed at the home of George and Maria, and while they were at work during the day so Mike and I were tourists during the day in Athens. After Monday's storm now the weather was once again sunny and warm. We were looking forward to the training sessions in Sensei Vebos dojo and we were well received as guests there. Several of the members which are on the Sports Camp each year so we knew quite a lot of them, it turned out. The training was much more intense than it is at a camp and we had total focus on what sensei Vebo said as he instructed in Greek. Body language says a lot and of course the experience we have of sensei Vebos exercise allowed us to keep up with the workout. It was perhaps not right at all times but we fought well and an hour passed quickly. An hour of training is what you are capable of because it did not have long pauses, but we were more or less running all the time. Although Mike trained for two sessions on the Monday which were an interesting experience for him (and me as well watching him). Maybe that's why he got the nickname Mad Mike? First session is for kyu-grades and second session for black belts. However, on Wednesday we attended a session again and it was just as intense.

On the return trip, I observed that I have been practicing karate in English, German, French, Spanish, Serbian and now Greek. I have trained in icy cold dojos wintertime and hot sports halls in the middle of summer. A karateka is always ready for training - regardless of the weather, country and language.

Mona Pfaus, 4th dan
Karate-Do Shotokan Akademi Växjö / Sweden

Susanne's trip report from the trip home, October 29, 2012

The Monday Morning... Melancholy, it is raining outside, and training camp is over. The night before, we had decided that we would travel at 10 o'clock from the Sports Camp to be at the station in good time. Accuracy at 10 the taxis were there! Once at the station we had time to grab a cup of coffee / tea and then jump on the train that would take us to the airport. Throughout the train journey it rained and rained and lightning like crazy, it was a real autumn weather. After a while, the train suddenly stopped. There we were then standing 5 minutes became 10 minutes and after 40 minutes began to train so SLOWLY roll very slowly again. Eventually we came to a stop and there was shouting from the speakers - in Greek - that we would change trains. A friendly train passenger translated to us where we could go and we saw probably very confused. We switched trains and but now the time running out and we had quite a few stops left before we were to arrive at the airport. A few stops later Mona and Mike jumped off, because they would remain in Athens and train in Sensei Vebos dojo. We had begun to think of alternative plans to travel for coming home if we did not get on the flight.

At 14:10 the flight was traveling and 13:40 Attila, Christopher Anders, Philip, Jack and I got off the train and ran like mad to the checkin.

For me personally, this was a dejavu from October 2009, when Mona and I missed the plane home (due to a flat tire on the highway) and then had a 30 hour journey home and I did not want to experience again. Once we arrived breathless at check-in SAS the woman behind the counter said: "No, sorry. Too late ".

After some discussion we finally got to check in our bags and then again ran through the airport to reach the security checkpoint. Once everyone had been through, we were running to the gate. A man shouted "Good luck" to me where I ran with panic in his eyes and passport at the ready.

Once we arrived we saw that no one had been allowed to go on board yet, because the plane was delayed. Then we looked at each other and just laughed at the whole situation - it was crazy! The trip home went without problems and at 21:00 hrs, I was finally at the front door of my home and family.

What do you learn from this? Well, a karateka is always ready - both physically and spiritually.

Susanne Sandström, 1st dan
Karate-Do Shotokan Akademi Växjö

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