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Sifu Botting's Outdoor Training at Double Lake
reported by Roger Leon
Kung Fu retreat picture Tye Botting picture

Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of attending Sifu Botting's training camp. For those of you that have never met Sifu Botting, allow me to provide a very brief summary. He holds a fifth degree in our system as well as a second degree in Arnis (a Phillippino system.) Until moving to College Station several years ago he trained directly under both Grand-master Cheng and Master Wang. He is a man driven when it comes to his quest for martial knowledge. He has informally added to his training whenever given an opportunity. Combined with his dedication and training discipline, the end result is an amazingly gifted (and possibly sadistic) artist. Currently residing in Louisiana with his wife (another black belt) Sifu Botting can be seen in our school twice a year at black belt tests. Just look for Mr. Clean.
Anyway, most of us arrived Friday afternoon at Double Lake Resort. The initial lull was misleading for it was the only time of rest for the rest of the weekend. Training began around eight and lasted until well past one AM. If one were to go this retreat expecting anything like regular class, they would be in for a rude awakening. After an hour or so of chin-na drills, we moved on to hitting trees for a bit. For most the evening ended with about an hour of work with sensitivity training. Drills that seemed so soft and innocent in the night but would become painful acts of amazement on the following day. After the sensitivity training, most were released to sleep. US upper students however trained for another hour and a half before bed.
Saturday began at six. Straight out of bed, we launched into a run around the lake to a secluded spot. Here we worked on yet another take-down/chin-na technique before running back to camp and breakfast. After a brief rest period, Sifu Botting informed us the real training was about to begin. For the rest of the morning, he showed various techniques with throws, locks, weapon attacks and defense. Fortunately, Dan from his College Station school received most of the demonstrations as Botting cackled with glee. Personally, I feel I learned more about my forms in those precious hours than in the bulk of my training combined. There is nothing like having Sifu Botting sitting on top of your back with your wrist in a lock and your face in the dirt to make you understand why you should do or not do something,
Shortly before lunch, Sifu Botting starting getting even more excited than usual. He had a guest instructor coming for the afternoon. Professor Lansdale, according to Botting, was a specially gifted man and we had a rare opportunity. After lunch, we began to understand. It began very innocently. The professor had come with two of his senior instructors, and they started with a brief explanation of their system Chen Chuan, a virtual soup of techniques from modern Kenpo, Korean Hapkido, Wally Jay's Jujitsu, Aikido, Aikijitsu, Kung-Fu, Arnis, Boxing, and Dim Mak. Afterward, the demonstration started with a brief explanation of balance disruption, and then the pain began. I am unable to accurately relate the techniques demonstrated that afternoon or how in awe I was and remain. These men put people on the ground in ways I don't even begin to understand. I could do things similar and throw my partner, but they didn't throw anybody. With next to no effort, they just put people down. Don't be mistaken, they also employed a wide array of locks and holds. These also used little to no effort but inflicted great amounts of pain. Now that the sore joints and bruises have gone, that day still stands out in my mind as an invaluable learning opportunity.
That evening we divided into two teams for the trail. In dead night each team member would have to traverse the trail with the opposing team in wait. As one encountered a member of the opposing team they would have to apply the correct technique to proceed. The time with the shortest time won, but everyone had fun. Later that night Chris Rivers won the chi-ma competition, and shortly after midnight we got to go to sleep.
Sunday again started at six. This time with Tai Chi and Chi gong training. After breakfast, we briefly trained a few Hung Gar techniques. Following this we were treated to a demonstration of the Hung Gar long form. This form is over ten minutes long! (can you say stamina?) The latter half of the morning, Sifu Botting decided we deserved a treat. So he put us on the path for the dagger form. I've wanted to learn this form for a long time and felt deeply appreciative.
All said, that weekend has benefited my training in ways I may not realize for years to come. I eagerly look forward to the next one. I also strongly encourage anyone serious about their training to attend as well. So keep your ears open and make plans early.

Roger Leon

Tye Botting picture Tye Botting picture
Roger Leon picture with Baby
Roger Leon & his Baby Angelina

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