The first annual CJA Black Belt Conference was held Jan. 16 and 17 in Loma Linda at the RyoKoKodai Kan. Prof. and Lora arrived in LA on Jan. 14th, and were met at the airport by Todd and Denise, and Sierra (their little girl). By arrangement we had dinner with Bob and Nalani Reish and their children. Prof. delivered a video to help Bob with the Okazaki historical research he was doing. We spent the evening chatting about Martial Arts in general, Danzan Ryu, and Bob's super effort to restore many Okazaki photos in a high-resolution digital format. Bob plans to have the project finished this spring and available to those who are interested.
Friday morning, Jessie Smith, and Dan and Marcos Baca arrived from Montana. We used the day to catch up on sleep, talk martial arts, and worry about whether the t-shirts would be done on time. Todd came up with a great design for the T-shirts, which turned out really polished.
We started the conference at 8 am Saturday with three promotions: Denise Driver was awarded her Shodan, Lora Edwards received her Instructor's Certification, and Todd Driver earned his Sandan. Prof. then presented the two ranking Sandans, David and Todd, special Bokken with covers. Following the congratulatory throws, we reviewed the teaching methods for fundamentals, worked on problems and applications for Nage, and some variations. We had a Mexican style "catered" lunch with Debbie Andrews and Jessie Smith providing the set up. The afternoon classes included a review of basic Tanto followed with the Knife on Knife course. Then after some Waribashi Ori practice, we went right on into Shinen No Maki. That took us to 5 PM and left no time for Shinrai.
Everyone rushed for the showers, so that we could make it in time to a great Italian dinner at "Isabella's" in Redlands. Prof. gave a brief talk, after which the Black Belts presented him with a set of Kung Fu "Butterfly Knives". After returning to the Dojo at the Driver's residence, many folk volunteered for Okazaki Long Life Massages, before "turning in".
Early Sunday morning was set aside for a review and trouble shooting various Shime and Oku techniques. While the Nidans were in Shinyo class, the Shodans went through a review of their Kempo Katas and fundamentals. Then the Sandans went to Shinyo, while the Shodans and Nidans reviewed the 12 Bokken exercises and five Bokken katas. The "catered" lunch today was Chinese. By 1pm we were back on the mats working on the offensive and defensive Daito methods. These took all afternoon.
As a very special gift, Debbie Andrews, hand made 6' Bo covers with a special pocket for Tantos, Shuriken, etc. They were made of very heavy duty black material, and were free to each participant. Thank you, Debra! They are for sale to other CJA members who would like one, as are the extra T-shirts Supplies are limited! Contact Chris Andrews at CJA Central Office!
As if we didn't do enough, we left the next morning for Disneyland with Todd and Denise taking us to all the "new" rides. In conclusion, we had Black Belts from Southern California, Northern California, and Montana at the conference. And everyone had a great time! Everyone left tired, renewed, and excited about next year's conference. We especially want to thank Todd and Denise, and all the members of their Dojo for putting on an excellent conference! Kokua!