Last year they returned from the camp, thrilled and exhausted. This year, before the camp, they were a bit anxious about the prospect of enduring the physical trials which they knew they'd be facing.
Training started at 19:00 Friday evening and continued until 21:00. Needless to say, they did not go to bed immediately afterward as they were supposed to, since the inevitable excitement of spending the night with their friends was just too overwhelming. They were not prepared to waste a second of this precious time by sleeping.
From what I've been told, many of them only settled down by 1:00 am and were up again at 5:00 am to resume training soon after. After their breakfast break, they headed off to the lawns along the Liesbeek river to resume their training. (Their plans to train on the beach were unfortunately foiled, as the strong winds would have made conditions on the beach unpleasant)..
Mo, Aisha (3) and I caught up with them at the river. I was really sad to have missed the actual training session, as we arrived a few minutes before they were to head back to the dojo for lunch.
Aisha was so excited to see her sibs again, as she had been asking for them since she'd awoken that morning.
When we arrived, Shakeel (13) was in an intense training session with sempai Eugene, learning how to do a kata using a 'weapon'. (Okay I shall not elaborate too much since I am completely ignorant as to what this stick/baton they were using, is called).
I always watch in awe as the sempai's display their amazing skill under the watchful eye of the sensei.
|Sensei Reggie Lincoln|
In the meantime the kids (and I) enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful surroundings.
Once the kids had finished lunch, training resumed. I was so disappointed to have missed Shakeel displaying his newly acquired skills when he and a few others were asked to do the kata (using the 'stick' [please excuse my ignorance]) in front of the class.
Unlike last year, we pretty much left the kids to experience their weekend by themselves. Mo only popped in once on Friday night and I sat around for an hour on Saturday afternoon. Last year, we had hovered about much more, which turned out to be quite distracting for Nuha (7) and Tharaa (11), who kept looking in our direction while they were supposed to be training.
My mother, niece, nephew, Aisha and I watched the last hour of training on Saturday afternoon. It was obvious that, although the kids were utterly spent, they still were enjoying themselves immensely.
|Tharaa (in front) visibly drained, but still concentrating|
|Nuha, exhausted but enjoying every second|
At the end of the afternoon, the official grading ceremony took place, where the students were awarded their new stripes or belts. Shakeel, Tharaa and Nuha received their Junior yellow belts.
(They currently have their white belt with one green and 4 red vertical stripes. Students receive a stripe at each grading. The yellow stripe is now pinned horizontally along their white belts, while the vertical stripes will be removed and have to be earned once again - until they finally receive their yellow belt. It takes about two years to earn a new belt).
|The yellow stripe about to be awarded to Shakeel|
|Shakeel receives his Junior yellow belt|
|Tharaa receives her Junior yellow belt|
|Nuha receives her Junior yellow belt|
After karate the kids were utterly exhausted, and despite the fact that my nephew and niece were spending the night, Tharaa and Nuha collapsed into bed and fell asleep early.
Despite their continued exhaustion on Sunday morning, they were up early to participate in their Madrassah (Islamic school)' s Children's Day (unfortunately I forgot my memory card at home, so could not take any pictures).
The kids did well in their performances and Shakeel, in particular, had the audience in stitches with his spur-of-the-moment wit (while still getting the message across). Due to time constraints, Tharaa's performance - a poem, which she had written and was supposed to recite - was cancelled. The poor child wept with disappointment, as she'd spent so much time committing the poem to memory.
Her sadness was, however, shortlived as we had to head off to Mo's niece's birthday party after lunch. I have absolutely no idea where the kids got the energy to leap about on the jumping castle and chase one another with water pistols. As they ran about drenched to the bone and beaming from ear to ear, one would never have guessed that they'd spent the previous 24 hours in rigorous training - especially when, after their Maama (Mo's mum) and cousins started dancing to Gangnam Style and Everyday I'm Shuffling, they leapt up and joined them!
|Maama and grandchildren|
|Shakeel, Tharaa and Aisha joining Maama - can you believe these kids still had energy to dance after training the whole of Saturday?|
And then, when we got home, they experienced the inevitable crash. They woke up this morning feeling drained and unwell, so none of them went to school today (which is okay since formal assessments are done and it is the last week of the school term).
What a busy, yet fulfilling weekend. But I really am looking forward to my last few days of peace before the school holiday begins.