Malta Gashuku 2017

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  1. I arrived first and was met by the warm and generous Sensei Dario. We were sooned joined by Sensei Larsen. He had only just got back from 10 days in Japan but seemed completely unphased given this and the fact he had taken 3 flights to get from Norway to Malta. The arrival of Sensei Roy, Sandra, Rose and Jacob half an hour later completed the group. Thankfully there were no repeat of the mishaps of a couple of years ago when a member of the party forgot his bags and tried to go back through security. Given the jittery state of things internationally and in Malta, this was just as well.

    Malta as usual was sunny and warm although perhaps without the level of humidity we've sometimes experienced. We booked into the Hotel Santana in the St Paul's Bay area of Malta near Bugibba. Checking in done, we freshened up in our rooms before meeting at the bar. We were greeted by the soulful tones of the Spice Girls singing Wannabe. Nice. This perhaps set the tone for the rest of the evening. A nostalgic trip through memory lane. We were joined by the lovely Rita, Nicole and Lianne and went to a pleasant fish restaurant by the harbour. The fact that people were smoking in the restaurant took us all back to the heady days of smoked filled offices, pubs and train carriages.


    Food was excellent, but perhaps not fully to the taste of Sandra, especially as she watched Rose slurp down an oyster. Everyone's appetites were further enhanced by Rose's story of various encounters with pot plants in a nightclub during a hen night.

    There was a pleasant walk back to the hotel where most went to bed leaving four of us to retire to the bar for a nightcap. The hotel bar was clearly an area where there was an anomaly in space time. As wafts of Wannabe drifted through the air, the conversation got more surreal. I was still struggling with Rose's explanation of the benefits of getting your head kicked in when Sensei Roy started explaining his experimentation with the 1930's. This centred around old style phones with dials. I sensed bewilderment and uncertainty in the young eyes of Rose. Phone's with dials? Had Sensei finally lost the plot? Her confusion was increased when Sandra and I started talking about the excitement of getting new trim phones.


    The sound of the Spice Girls was now being replaced with the echos of Alvin Stardust and Suzie Quattro emanating from the past. Rose was floundering. She had visions of Sensei Roy dialing a number, getting the 7th one wrong and having to redial the whole thing again cursing. Her mind was pounding.

    I called out to her. "Rose, Rose, stay with us". Alas, Sensei Roy mentioned his paper address book with phone numbers. The confusion in Rose's face increased and turned into panic. Suddenly she was being pulled into the vortex. She was facing forces far greater than she could comprehend. She strained to reach out. Fighting it was futile. Rose was taken from us into a parallel dimension. As I looked on helpless, I thought I just caught a glimpse of Davis through the vortex.

    As she dissappeared, Sensei Roy turned around slightly exasperated. "Where has she gone now?"


  2. We woke to a beautiful blue sky, the odd fluffy cloud drifting by. Breakfast was followed by a leisurely morning. Lunch by the sea was pleasant in the midday sun. We were waiting for the rest of the party to arrive before setting off for the first Karate session.

    The first we knew that something was wrong was when we met at reception to be taken to the dojo. Chris, Arsene and his dad had arrived as expected. It was then when we learnt that the disturbing events of last night caused more than the loss of Rose. Davis had appeared from nowhere. He had broken the laws of physics and travelled through space and time to Malta. Sensei Roy's exasperation grew. "What the ....". Sensei's frantic attempts to get in contact with Davis the previous night were all in vain as Davis was in a parallel universe. Sensei Dario, practical as usual booked Davis into the hotel before we set off to the dojo. Rose returned and led the troop in a hearty rendition of "Malta!" in the mini bus.

    We entered the Libyan compound and made our way in the dark to the dojo. Its welcoming lights a beacon in the night for those craving Karate. Sensei Larsen put us through our paces slowly increasing the pace and intensity of the training. The focus on basics. Hip rotation in front (Zenkutsu Dachi) and back stance (Kokutsu Dachi) formed the core of the first part of the training. The constant repetition of in both stances was agony on the legs. After a short break Sensei Larsen concentrated on stepping forward and back in front stance, with special emphasis on locking. It was here that things took a bizarre turn. Sensei explained how to achieve the proper stance with the use of a credit card. A new Karate term was born. The CCC or the Credit Card Clench (copyright Larsen Sensei). This explanation was greeted with vacant glances from the innocent faces of the children and grimaces from the adults. We are all still haunted by the image.

    credit card

    The next session focused on Oi-Zuki and the importance of locking. Visions of the CCC still in our heads. We finished at 9 and returned to the hotel for a quick shower before heading to a restaurant. The food was good but the portions were enormous. Respect to Arsene who was one of the few to finish his steak.