Puddle Jumpers

Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel

A Brave and Noble Tradition

Happy New Year! 2006 went out like a lion, and 2007 came in like a wild boar! (Incidentally, this is the year of the Pig in Chinese astrology.) Vancouver has been hit with extreme wind and rain storms, fallen trees, turbid water, and power outages over the past 3 weeks. It snowed again last night and it’s clear and frozen tonight…What a winter! So, what do 5 men of questionable sanity do to mark this auspicious transition between years? Why, they practice karate on the beach and then go for a swim in a frozen lake, of course!

January 1st found me and my friend Vicky watching Neil and four other adventurous and courageous “Karate-ka” from his dojo (the place where martial arts is practiced) train Karate in the rain, in a park, on a beach. I was the designated “photographer”. We drove far, far into Maple Ridge and walked to a lake along a path made into an obstacle course from all the fallen trees and debris from the wind storm on Dec. 15 where near hurricane winds blowing up to 120km/h blasted Vancouver, uprooting huge old trees, disrupting power to thousands of Lower Mainland residents, and causing considerable damage to homes, property and vehicles. It’s a miracle no one was seriously hurt. To see the aftermath in Stanley Park, visit CBC’s photo gallery of the park after the storm: CBC Photo Gallery.

After picking our way over and around fallen logs to get to the lake, our intrepid band of martial artists went for a warm-up jog around the lake. The rain was pelting down as Vicky and I set up the cameras and I deftly fashioned raincoats out of plastic bags, à la Martha Stewart, for both the video camera and my digital SLR. With that completed, I took some pictures of the beautiful setting, with the mountains shrouded in mist and the lake lightly covered in ice. It was absolutely silent, save for the sounds of our voices and the rain falling all around us.

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Upon their return, our band of Karate-ka, led by Sensei Holmes, stretched

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kicked

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and braved the cold, cold grass on bare feet.

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Andy said the grass was extremely cold, but I have to admit I had hoped for a little snow that day. I figured if they were going to go through all the trouble to prove their bravado and grab the New Year by the horns, they may as well go all the way, and a dusting of snow would have been the perfect garnish! Alas, there was no snow, only a thin layer of ice in the middle of the lake. Of course, while it’s fun to jest and jokingly push the limits of physical endurance, us spectators, frankly, are creatures of comfort, and we were glad to be layered in warm clothes and looked-on at our friends with awe and pride.

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The training continued, and they did a few “kata” which are set sequences of specific moves. They are memorized and the karate practitioner should be able to recall the sequence of moves when asked to perform a kata by its name. They “kiai”, which is to say they make a really loud yell during the exercise, and the echo across the lake was so clear that the guys thought there were people on the other side of the lake calling back.

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After performing a few difficult black-belt kata, to varying degrees of success, our band of bravehearts made their way to the beach and stood at the water’s edge in the driving rain and contemplated their entry. If you look carefully, you’ll notice the rain drops peening the surface of the water.

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My guess is that the ambient temperature was about +3°C, and as there was a bit of ice on the lake, the water must have been hovering just above freezing! Brrrrrrr….. But our courageous karate-ka took their first step in…

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… and continued marching in, one step at a time…

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… with Sensei Holmes calling out each step…

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… and pausing between each step…

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And they kept marching in, one step at a time, counting each step as they went: 1-2-3…

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4-5… still not very deep…

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…keep counting…6-7-8-9-10 steps…

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…not deep enough, keep going… 1-2-3-4-5 steps…6-7-8-9-10…

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… still not deep enough! What the heck: Go for the plunge!

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Done! What a rush! Time to walk back, lauging and happy

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They walked back up the beach, soaking wet, past the few incredulous spectators…

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But it wasn’t over yet. A final meditation…

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… our hero, with steam rising from his body…

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Then they finished training by bowing in a show of respect.

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Everyone was pretty proud over their accomplishment, and congratulated each other

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Then it was time to pack up

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and head back over to Andy’s place. He and his fabulous wife, Cathy, invited us all back to their place for hot chocolate and homemade soup and chili… Yum!

When we arrived at Andy and Cathy’s the fire was blazing, their home was cozy warm and we sat around and previewed the video from the day. My lens fogged up, so I took advantage of the effect by taking a “romantic”, misty shot of Andy. 1940’s Film Noir it’s not!

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The day drew to a close, and we made the long trek home. Ringing in the New Year in this Brave and Noble Tradition with such nice people is surely a positive way to start the year, and sets the stage for a prosperous and happy year ahead.

Wishing you and yours all the best in 2007,

Ingrid: Puddle Jumper, and Neil: Swimmer of Ice-Cold Puddles

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2 comments on “A Brave and Noble Tradition

  1. remington
    January 15, 2007

    めちゃすごいですよ!明けましたおめだとうございますイングリヅさんとネルサん。Wow, great pics Ingrid and nice job on the 空手(karate) Neil san. Reminds me of my new years eve beer-mile…kinda [i think your adventure was slightly more principled :)]

    see you at ubc tomorrow!

  2. Wulf
    January 17, 2007

    Neil, you’re a helluva man! I’ll bet that having done that felt so good it was all you could do to keep from running back out and doing it all over again. Gives you something to look forward to next year!

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2007 by in Karate, Main.

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