BMAC’s Big Summer Bash in aid of MS Society Scotland took place on Saturday 6th August at the Allander Leisure Centre. We’d prepared, we’d trained and now nine hours of training lay ahead of us.
Sandwiched between two heatwaves, the Bash happened on a much cooler weekend. This was a good start to the day, as the Allander’s Sports Hall gets incredibly warm.
The day began at 8am, with 12 of us. The first task was to decorate the hall with the balloons, bunting, posters and collecting buckets that the MS Society had provided. Blowing up balloons certainly supplied a different form of breathing exercise. We took the first of our hourly team photos and prepared to warm up properly.
With the hall a sea of orange, it was down to business. Scott started things off with a warm involving some cardio, squats, shadow punching and active stretching. We then went into some pad work. Initially practising in pairs with arm and leg techniques we then moved to groups of 6, with one person taking a turn in the middle. Usually we “affectionately” refer to this as the circle of death but with the length of the day, we kept each person’s stint to 30 seconds or so. Some light kata followed the pads and just like that, the first hour was complete. Eight hours to go.
The second hour was a kata party, our name for any training session that focuses on kata. We split into three groups for this, working on some grade-appropriate kata. Michael led a group of black belts, working on nijushiho, Jamie took his group through Bassai Sho and Scott covered Heian Shodan and Nidan. The hour culminated with each group doing a demo of their kata for the others. A round of applause for each group and it was onto hour 3.
Next was our first split session. Fergus trained a group of our junior members whilst Hugh guided the rest us through an hour of parrying practise. This was a good intense hour, focusing on some movement and some take downs.
Hour 4 was another split session, this time with Hugh leading on kata application whilst Scott and Emma took a group of newcomers for their first taste of martial arts. We had three people for this taster session which involved hitting some pads, some disengagement tactics. The hour culminated with an introduction of breakfalls. Balance can be an issue for people with MS so learning how to fall safely is an important skill. One of the participants was Laura Ingram, who chairs the MS Society’s Scotland Council, and it was good to get support from the charity.
The halfway mark was approaching, and Barry took over to lead us through a weapons practice. We tease Barry regularly for his love of weapons but recognise his skill with the bo, shinai and bokken amongst others. This hour introduced a wide variety of moves for staying safe even when an attacker is carrying the proverbial big stick.
Another split session started at 1pm. This time, Emma and Rachel hosted a taster session for our upcoming Women’s Self Defence Class. We had 7 people attending and signing up for our longer course that starts in September. Emma has moved away from the area recently, so it was good for her to come back and take part in the day. Hugh took the rest of the group through an hour of groundwork. We also had our second visitor as local MP Amy Callaghan came to watch and support us which was much appreciated.
At 2pm, we had 1 newcomer for another taster session which Emma hosted whilst John was instructing us on what we like to call “Marley Specials”. These are quick moves that can be used to get out of a jam but aren’t necessarily complicated to execute. This turned out to be a real high energy hour, with focus on dealing with multiple attacks. After 7 hours of training, we managed to maintain the pace of the practise.
Into the second last hour with Jamie and Michael taking the lead for an hour on distance control and movement. This was an excellent hour, with some innovative drills to help with proper distancing from an opponent. At the same time, Fergus coached his second kids’ hour doing an excellent job.
From there it was the cooldown hour. For reasons best known to himself, Scott included a breakfall kata in this, although fortunately only one. Afterwards the pace settled into some slow moving kata, using each step as a stretch. Scott then led a full body stretch, with some moans from everyone as those tired muscles were stretched one more time.
And with that it was over. 9 hours of training, 25 BMAC adult and 8 junior members took part, along with 12 people getting their first taste of martial arts. Of our 25 members, 10 were crazy enough to do the full 9 hours. However, it was great that everyone was able to take part, whether for one hour or nine. It was such a team effort to deliver. The energy levels were high all day and we never dropped below 14 people training at any one time.
A massive thank you goes to everyone that supported us. Between online donations and money on the day, we have raised over £2600 for the MS Society, an amazing total that exceeded our target. An equally massive well done to everyone in the club for making our first Big Summer Bash such a success and a great day for BMAC.
The BMAC blog began in 2013 to chart one member's journey to black belt.