Canadians invade Pittsburgh and come home sore

Canadian and U.S. karateka got together to train and trade ideas at a May 2013 clinic in Pittsburgh
Canadian and U.S. karateka got together to train and trade ideas at a May 2013 clinic in Pittsburgh

This last weekend, Matt Mannerow of Grey-Bruce Ryusei Karate, Rick Going and Kam Miranbigi of Ottawa Ryusei, and I (the sole glorious representative of Barrie Ryusei Karate) travelled to Pittsburgh to train and frivol with our friends at the Yoseikan Dojo. The occasion for the trip was to celebrate the healing of dojo head Terry Valentino. When Valentino-Sensei came to the Ottawa Summer Camp last year, he revealed that he would soon have surgery to heal achilles tendon injuries in both feet, requiring a long convalescence.

To show support for his ordeal, the group of Canadian karateka promised to come down to Pennsylvania to train when Terry had recovered sufficiently. Our May trip turned into a double celebration, when we learned that our host was also due to retire in a few days, ending a long career fighting in the trenches and doing much good as a high school counsellor.

I gave Terry my standard karate guy retiring joke: “I guess you’ll be able to train all the time now.” Instead of smiling ruefully and making references to his many chronic injuries, to explain why such a thing were not possible, Terry said immediately, with enthusiasm, “Yes, I know. That will be great.”

And I believe that non-stop training and lots of martial arts research is in his future.

At our clinic, we were joined by several Yoseikan Dojo students. For my part of the clinic, I focused on bunkai I had been working on, especially the reversal of techniques and learning to deal with high-speed attacks. For his section of the clinic, Valentino-Sensei drew on his extensive experience of Chinese martial arts to focus on push-hand exercises and a two-man flow drill created for the kata Bassai. The work we did was a good preview of what’s to come for the 2013 Ottawa Summer Camp, which will feature the guest instruction of Valentino-Sensei.

The Canadians standing with Valentino-Sensei in front of his open-air backyard dojo.

On both the Friday and Saturday night we were wined and dined by Terry, his lovely wife, Virginia, and their son, Michael, himself a karateka and a superb cook who created most of our meals. On the Saturday night we gathered around a bonfire in the backyard of the Valentinos’ sprawling property, located in the rolling hills of Evan’s City, just outside Pittsburgh. Joined by the Yoseikan students, we talked and drank late into the night, solving the world’s problems, forming lasting budo bonds and commiserating over aches and pains gathered over the day’s training.



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