The message from Moscow was to make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing and they were right, the temperature outside Domodedovo Airport on my arrival was -22°C and lots of snow.
I was driven to my place of stay which was about 40 minutes outside Moscow; it was called Zhukovsky, the accommodation was in the Sanatorium (houses of rest) where you can have treatment for every part of the anatomy. The surroundings were outstanding with Pine and Birch trees and an aroma to match, everywhere was covered in snow, on entering my room the temperature was a comfortable 25°C and furnishings to match.
Three meals a day were provided so you never went hungry, alcohol was not allowed. I could not sleep the first night due to the silence, and then I could not wake up due to the dark mornings, due to living in London this place was like a retreat.
My first teaching was at Sensei Bogdan Kurilko’s Dojo which is situated in the centre of Moscow. Training started with Black belts and then Kyu grades, Renzoku Bunkai and Self-defence dominated the training. After training I was invited to dinner, the fish supper was delicious and the vegetables were exquisite.
The next 3 days would be spent outside Moscow with the person who invited me to Moscow to conduct the Gasshuku, Sensei Pavel Klopov. The training was steered towards Kumite, Kihon (Basic), Yakasoku (Promise) and Iri – Kumi (Try Out). There were about 100 people in attendance, the Children practiced the 5 basic San Dan Gi, and the Cadets practiced Iri – Kumi, then the Black belts concentrated on the finer details in Kata. Sunday morning the Children had a PowerPoint Presentation and Q&A, the Children were very pleased with this. To conclude I was asked to conduct a grading for the Cadets.
But it was not all about Karate – Do, I visited a small but educational Aviation Museum, where I had the chance to try out my piloting skills on a flight simulator. I was s*** however the instructor commented that it takes 30 hours to get an idea.
As always when visiting Russia one must visit a Russian Banya (sauna), which is said to have many health benefits. It is fired by wood only and oak branches are tied together and immersed in fragrances and cold water, which are then beaten and rubbed against the body which generates heat and therapeutic conditions. You are then invited to step outside and ice cold water is poured over you if you can take it, I’m pleased to say I've done it twice. I have many fond memories of Moscow over the past 28 years and this was no exception.
My special thanks to the entire Russian contingent that made this trip a success.
Chief Instructor OTGKA