MALTA 2013 Report:
Jala Aldous reports on events during LSKC's annual trip to Malta.
Day 1: Once everyone had arrived at Heathrow airport, and gone through customs, we were finally allowed to board the plane which would take us to Malta. It was exciting for all of us – even for the ones who had already been several times before. Despite the majority of the 3 hour flight being pretty dull, it was worth it for the stunning view of Malta from the sky. The whole island was just spread out before us!
Arriving in Malta, phew – it was sweltering! We were met at the airport by sensei Dario, head instructor of karate in Malta, and his two daughters Nicole and Liane who gave us each a lovely, soft dark blue towel embroided with each of our names. Once we were all crammed inside the minibus there was a sticky drive to the Hotel Kennedy Nova, where we freshened up and changed ready for the training session to come. Then it was back inside the minibus and off to the dojo.
The path there was lit up with candles, flickering about in the damp, humid air. It felt very special. First there was a rather full-on warm up, followed by a fun, 2-hour training session which was especially hard for those of us who hadn’t reached our brown belts yet. The floor was a lake of sweat by the end! Sensei included some hard Kumite sequences. We also did Bassai-dai, a brown belt kata. Sensei Ohta’s demonstrations of how to do certain moves were very impressive.
Next came dinner. It was a long wait, especially as the training had left us ravenous. But the food, when it finally arrived, was delicious, it was really lovely, fresh food, Italian style. At 12:20am, English time and 1:20am, Maltese time we clambered, exhausted into bed. Phew! What an exhausting day! But there was still more to come. Much more...
Day 2: After a tasty breakfast, we returned to the Dojo for morning training. That was another 2 hours. We did more Kumite as well as Jion, another, even trickier, brown belt kata. By the end of that session some of the black belts were hanging their sweat drenched gi tops on the railings to dry – nice! Next it was beach training, which was lots of fun. And we enjoyed cooling off in the delightfully warm sea afterwards. And playing in the sand, too...
We went to a nice beach side restaurant lunch. If you looked down from where we were sitting you could see little fish flashing and darting around the blueish greeny sea. It was a pleasantly peaceful atmosphere. Before our evening session, we had to get back from the beach so we all trooped back into the thankfully, air conditioned coach. Lots of people had a ‘mini’ nap on the way back, including sensei Chris. So when we arrived at the dojo, approximately 1 hour early for training, he woke up and simply walked off the bus! Sleepily, everyone gathered themselves together and got off the coach too. We were just waiting to board the mini bus to take use back to the hotel, when someone said “where’s Chris?” because there was no sign of him. “I bet he’s gone to the dojo!’ said someone else “he was asleep, so he saw where we were, and thought ‘time for training!’”. So whilst the rest of us piled into the mini bus, sensei Roy went to look for him. Whilst the rest of us bundled into the mini bus where we waited, Michael (black belt) suggested that he was probably doing press ups in the bathroom, or punching the hand dryer. Just then a slightly annoyed looking sensei Roy came back, and told us that he couldn’t see him, the dojo was locked and he’d called 3 times! When sensei Chris finally turned up, everyone clapped and some even whooped! It was quite funny. “Didn’t you hear me call?” asked Sensei Roy “mmm vaguely” he replied.
When we eventually got back, me and my brother, Kiran (purple-white belts) along with our green belt dad, went up to the hotel roof to where the pool was. There was a breathtaking view of the harbour from up there. But the water was absolutely freezing! And whilst we bravely jumped in, it took our Dad rather a long time to get into the water. Michael and John then turned up but thought better of having a swim, being the brave souls they were. Evening training was not easy either. We practised the beginnings of black belt Kumite. Then they showed us a demonstration of what would be done in a competition. It was very interesting to watch the black belts demonstrating. They were doing full contact fighting.
Then it was dinner time. We walked along the harbour to get to the restaurant. Everything was prettily lit up. Everybody looked their best. After a delicious meal, we went to bed. We therefore missed the very late evening/very early morning’s events, but were told the next day, and this is what happened:
Some of the adults had been drinking in the lobby. However, Rose had fallen asleep. When she woke up, without saying anything (which is unusual for Rose), she stood up, took sensei Roy’s bottle of Jack Daniels and went to bed with the bottle in her hand, leaving everyone who was hoping for another glass staring, opened mouthed with astonishment!
Day 3: A 4 hour training session was what we did in the morning, but thankfully, they did allow us a 15 minute water break. It was really fun, but exhausting, though we were more used to it than we were on the first day. Also, near-ish to the end everyone got to demonstrate their kata. It was interesting seeing people do the more advanced, complex kata. There was one man who was so excited, he kept ‘kiaing’ at the wrong places, and jumping up and down! Once that exhausting lesson was over, dripping with sweat, we went to the hotel and then, out to lunch. On the way someone put on some music and Rose and sensei Sandra started dancing in their seats and Rose began cheering and doing Malta chants. That was funny!
The restaurant was a nice place, and it was right by the harbour. After lunch, most of us went swimming in the sea. We jumped and dived off the rocks, swam down deep and saw hundreds of differently shaped fish. Sensei Ohta even dived off the boat decking area. We all wanted to do it too but were told not to. Rose was getting annoyed with sensei Roy because he’d gone back to the hotel to get her swimming stuff, and was taking a really long time about it too. And she really wanted to get into the water. It turned out that he’d lost his ring and spent a while looking for it, and on top of that, the traffic was heaving.
We stayed swimming there in the lovely warm sea until it was dark, and it became ‘night swimming'. It felt extremely peaceful. A few of us walked back, and it was really nice, walking back by the harbour in the dark but with lights dotted about the place. Back at Hotel Kennedy Nova, we spent some time relaxing by the pool side, talking and laughing. It was a very special last evening in Malta!
Everyone really enjoyed that fabulous trip to Malta. It was everything from challenging, to tremendously fun, to shatteringly exhausting! And it wouldn’t have nearly as enjoyable if sensei Dario and his family hadn’t been so tremendously kind and generous to us. But I can’t help saying, on Monday, coming back home to England - brr! It was like coming out of a lovely hot oven into a horrible cold freezer!