Summercamp 2023 report
The dust has settled from the 2023 Summercamp: Photos and videos collected; admin squared away; late graders all caught up. Time for the full report!
Rapid Arnis (RA) - founded in 1993 - incorporates striking and grappling, impact weapons, edged weapons, and matched and unmatched weapon pairs. Practitioners are expected to develop competency in all formats (and the seamless integration of those formats) by the time they reach blackbelt, whereupon they will begin to specialise in certain areas according to preference.
The annual summercamp is 3 days long, with attendees taking part in a number of armed and unarmed sparring formats, technical workshops, and grading assessments. Not only was this year our 30th anniversary, but also our first system-wide gathering since the 2019 summercamp. This time we were being hosted at Impact Gym in Bristol – the home of our modular program, and venue of choice for many of our previous seminars and workshops.
The event is led by the system founder Pat O’Malley, and his panel of senior instructors. This year’s panel was comprised of Andrew Janson (managing the event), James Dismore (leading the panel), Paul Murray, Paul Starrs, and Lennart Wallgren. Although Pat is always on-hand to provide some input and advice where necessary, he is adamant that assessments are carried out by the panel in order to prevent any nepotism or bias when awarding higher grades. Over the years, this has also had the effect of senior instructors being instrumental to the development of the technical syllabus, and the gradual raising of standards that practitioners are held to.
Day 1 focused on the core RA syllabus, with technical workshops being led by Pat, and grading assessments being led by the panel. For many students, this was their first time in front of external assessors, and this - as well as working with RA comrades from other clubs - certainly added to the pressure. The Rapid Arnis Modular Program (RAMP) team were particularly intrigued by what lay in store for them at senior level (ie. The end of their second year), and were often invited to give their opinions on the performance of their seniors during their assessments. For those not on the RAMP course, the opportunity to be taught both fundamental and complex material by the system founder was a rare treat.
Day 2 (aka. Fight Day) was primarily about sparring and force-on-force exercises. Immediately following a pad-session to warm the partipants up, James took control of the day’s schedule allowing Andrew to jump in and do some sparring. The itinerary was nicely rounded, with 10 rounds of boxing, single stick and double stick sparring, and some ground-grappling later on. One particular highlight was when the panel decided to surprise Andrew with a “revolver” (a particularly horrible format devised by the man himself and used to torture his students in London, ironically). 6 back-to-back rounds against different peers in different formats (double stick, single stick, kickboxing, grappling, dagger and stick and dagger), followed by a surprise 7th round – a Black Eagle (live stick, helmet, and gloves only – anything goes) against James. When you represent RA it doesn’t matter what your rank and role is: You are always ready to be put to the test.
The latter part of Day 2 and all of Day 3 is a celebration of the organisation’s diverse talent and knowledge, with panel members being invited to deliver a range of syllabus and non-syllabus related training inputs: Paul Murray and Paul Starrs pulling from their expertise in standing and ground grappling, and Lennart Wallgren doing a deep dive into position, structure and the disruption of both. It was also a chance for the panel to evaluate David Capurro’s teaching skills as part of his (rather grueling) Blackbelt assessment. All attendees kept up a high work rate, giving their all at every turn – whether enjoying the teaching inputs or throwing themselves into the multitude of drills, exercises and sparring.
Grade promotions as follows:-
Andrew Janson – 5th degree Paul Murray – 4th degree James Dismore – 3rd degree Paul Starrs – 2nd degree Lennart Wallgren – 2nd degree David Capurro – Jr Black Peter Pokoradi – Blue 2 Philippe Jurado – Blue 2 Joseph Jurado – Blue 2 Rob Jones – Blue 1 Tom Odell – Blue 1 Stephen Dunklin – Blue 1 Daniel Gregory – Blue 1 Clement Rispal – Blue 1 Mark Kay – Blue 1 Matt Radford – Blue 1