My son and I attended the 2009 WMAA US Training Camp that ran the weekend of 17 July in West Seneca (a suburb of Buffalo), NY. We had a great time! Official events started on Thursday 16 July, but I hung out at the school for a while on Wednesday evening chatting with some of the instructors and guests. On Thursday official events started at 10AM with a full-day instructors' training camp. This event is intended to keep WMAA instructors up-to-date and together on the curriculum. To my pleasant surprise, we had over 20 people on the mat! In the current economic climate I was expecting much less. Datu Tim Hartman taught all day, leading us through a variety of baston-related material. One thing that he emphasized was helping the black belts see how they could promote the art-within-you-art aspect of Modern Arnis to martial arts schools that only wanted to augment their weapons curriculum. The main camp started on Friday morning. Unfortunately Grandmaster Rick Manglinong had to cancel his appearance due to a job-related conflict. In another unfortunate occurrence, Saekson JanJira's luggage made it to Buffalo but he did not due to a mix-up at the airport. He was planning on bringing Gina Carano with him but neither made it. Luckily, Matee "Dragon Leg" Jedeepitak, himself a four-time Muay Thai world champion, had come to the camp to meet with Saekson JanJira and he agreed to fill in when the travel issues came to light. He had a broad smile and an upbeat personality that really stole the show! So, Datu Tim Hartman, Grandmaster Ron Van Browning, and Kru Matee Jedeepitak were the camp's instructors. They alternated sessions from Friday morning through the close of camp early Sunday afternoon. Mr. Hartman covered stick and knife concepts from Modern Arnis; Mr. Browning covered an impressive swath of material drawn from San Soo Kung Fu, boxing, and several grappling systems from his encycolpedic knowledge of the martial arts; and Mr. Jedeepitak taught Muay Thai concepts. (In a running joke throughout the camp, he also repeatedly tried to teach us how to pronounce "Matee" with decidedly mixed results! The sounds are easy but getting the accent on the right syllable is hard.) The camp attendance remained at a little over 20 people throughout the weekend, despite the fact that several people who had planned on coming were unable to do so because of various economic/job-related/travel-related problems. I had to sit out some of the sessions due to a knee injury. My son, a lakan isa, did most of them and says he learned a lot. He really liked Mr. Browning's ground-grappling, especially the Sambo, and he felt that his Jeet Kune Do background helped with integrate what he was learning about boxing/MMA and Muay Thai. On Saturday morning we had the black belt testing. Five people were promoted to black belt in Modern Arnis; one of them was also promoted to lakan dalawa in Kombatan. Another person who was unable to test on Saturday successfully tested for promotion to lakan tatlo on Sunday. We don't usually run tests for colored belts at the camp but an exception was made this year and we promoted one student to brown belt. Between the great turn-out and the large number of students who were ready for promotion, I felt it was a great indicator of the strength of the organization. As usual, there was a banquet at the school on Saturday night. We announced the promotions after the meal and also shared stories of Prof. Presas. I really enjoyed hearing Mr. Browning's stories of his interactions with the Professor, having heard most everyone else's stories before. He did a great job of putting the Professor's philosophies into the context of training the martial arts. On a side note: Mr. Hartman and I first met Mr. Browning in 1988 or 1989 at the Michigan State University camp. Mr. Hartman had volunteered himself as uke for an impromptu demo by Mr. Browning--already a very experienced martial artist at the time--in part to test what Mr. Browning knew. We were off in a corner listening to Mr. Browning. Now, Mr. Hartman was extremely fast and had a very high tolerance to pain...so I was stunned when Mr. Browning went from talking to the crowd to launching an elbow to Mr. Hartman's midsection and then went back to talking so quickly that I could hardly follow the technique! It was a thing of beauty. Even more surprising, Mr. Hartman was bent over in pain--a very rare occurrence. For 20 years I have said to Mr. Hartman "Hey, how about that elbow?" to needle him about how squarely he was nailed by that shot. Because of this he had me introduce Mr. Browning at his first session by telling this story. Later in the camp Mr. Browning taught me the technique, and I am waiting for a chance to surprise Mr. Hartman with it! It was a great camp, and as Chair of the WMAA Advisory Board I am especially pleased to be able to report on how well things went. There are too many people to thank, but in addition to the instructors mentioned above (including Mr. Browning's assistant Tabitha Ueltschi) and the participants who made it the successful event it was, I must mention as always Janice Stranc, the organizational brains behind the event. Ms. Stranc is the one who really makes this event possible year after year--preparing for the event, doing the registration and other paperwork, arranging the meal for the banquet, handling calls, and on and on. Bob Hubbard and Shelley Corpuz-Kuhn were the photographers, and they were there for many long hours; Mr. Hubbard was also the webmaster for the event and helped with the publicity. Master Rich Parsons, though not a member of our org., assisted us with the black belt testing as well as sharing his experience and knowledge. My apologies to those whom I am forgetting to thank!