20th Anniversary Vegas Camp

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I took my family to the United States this year. It was the first time they'd been to shores of the US and they had a blast!! We began our journey in Santa Fe after 36 hours in transit ... Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to LA, LA to Dallas, Dallas to Santa Fe ... where we, along with the Leworthy's and Shane Griffiths from the UK, were looked after by the finest family on the planet - the Potters. Santa Fe is an extraordinary town where western cowboy culture meets and embraces Mexican and Native American culture in a blend that is completely enchanting. Not to mention the pride that the locals take in their fair city. We saw one piece of graffiti while we were there. One!!

From there we drove a rented Chevrolet Tahoe 7 hours to The Grand Canyon. To say that the canyon is huge is to subject it to the desperate limitations of the English language. It's immensity cannot be described using words; it must be experienced first-hand. Then, and only then, can one truly appreciate the grandeur of the place. We stood silently at its precipice and stared in rapt wonder before settling in to watch the most glorious sunset.

We set off the next day to Las Vegas, stopping in Williams, Arizona, along the way for a brand of country American hospitality and cuisine that is hard to match. We then followed the famous Route 66 for the next 3 hours until we pulled alongside the Hoover Dam. And the word "Damn!" was used often. This thing is huge and so impressive!! An hour later we were pulling into our hotel, The Orleans, in Las Vegas, where the 20th anniversary of the Speakman Kenpo (now Kenpo 5.0) camp would take place. The Orleans is off the strip, which means that it does not rest alongside Caesar's Palace, The Venetian or the Bellagio and, as such it is considered the preferred option for the budget gambler. It does have however, some fantastic things for kids to do, including a bowling alley, movie theatre and games arcade. We, of course, had Kenpo on our minds!

The first night of the camp was the test. A hundred people lined up in orderly fashion in front of a panel of judges including some Kenpo notaries and martial arts legends like Benny "The Jet" Urquidez. We were put through our paces for several hours, at the conclusion of which a handful of dedicated people were promoted to their next ranks. A number of Aussies were included in this and acquitted themselves admirably. I was very proud of them all. Most notably David Giovenco was promoted to 5th Degree Black and Martin Gosling and Lauren Campbell received their 4th Degree Blacks. Congrats to them! Unfortunately UK Shane suffered two broken ribs, which ruined his tournament campaign (and dance moves) for 2015. Next time mate!!!

The family shopped and hung out by the pool while much of the camp took place. Jesse and I competed on the tournament that followed the test and I am pleased and proud to announce that she came first in the fighting and second in forms and I came second in forms. I am so proud of her efforts. She has worked very hard and deserves all the accolades she gets!!! I wish I could describe all that took place at this year's camp, but ... you might just have to get yourself over there to see for yourselves!!!!

We finished the trip by driving to LA where we spent four days in Santa Monica with my sister and her family and then three days in Anaheim, the home of the world's greatest theme parks, including DISNEYLAND!!!! If you've ever been there, you'll agree that it deserves to be written in capitals! I love this place. There is something so wholesome and special about Disneyland. And clean and beautifully maintained!! So impressive!!!

And now we're home. It's cold, raining and miserable and the whole thing is starting to become the blur that is holidays past. But we will never forget the incredible kindness of the nicest people on the planet ... our Kenpo family!!!

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