New England Warrior Camp 2012
It's over. As I sit here and write this, I've had a long hot shower and a shave. I'm back home, waiting for my wife to get back from my in-laws so we can go out with my boys and get a great dinner. I'm tired and relaxed and can't stop thinking about how much incredible fun and power those of us who were at New England Warrior Camp this past weekend got to experience. NEWC, for those who don't know, was started by Ken Savage after he earned his 5th degree black belt test in 1997. As Ken tells the story, he and the others who took the test and passed that day, were taken aside by the 34th Grandmaster of Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu and told they had been given a seed. Ken decided to do something with that seed, and NEWC was born in 1998. Since that time, the Nobscot Reservation in Sudbury, Massachusetts has been our home for one weekend each Autumn where practitioners from all over come to train outdoors under the sun and stars, live in rustic conditions, and experience the unique qualities of Ed's cooking. In the fifteen years the Camp has run, I've been honored to teach at thirteen of them. I've met an incredible number of people and enjoyed every aspect of the Camp. We've done every type of training there is: from traditional weapons to unarmed combat to escape and evasion to sensitivity exercises and other stuff that will always remain for those who know. This was the final year of Camp. For Ken, this event has been an incredible undertaking and the people he has affected number in the thousands. But all good things come to an end - and sometimes, even the best things come to an end also. Ken said it best, I think, when he spoke about going out on top - and this year certainly proved that. Ken had every Shidoshi (those ranked at 5th degree black belt and above) teach this year and those who attended got to experience something that will likely never happen again. I usually do a recap post after each Camp, but this year is different. Frankly, what happened this year is a true treasure that I don't think can be adequately explained with words and the memories of one man. This Camp was a shared vision of the unity that exists among practitioners of a very old martial lineage. We all owe Ken Savage a tremendous amount of gratitude for his efforts over the years to make the Camp what it has been and what it will always be for those who have attended - the finest annual gathering of Ninjutsu practitioners ever gathered anywhere, all in the quest to explore, challenge, and develop their warrior spirit. Thank you, Ken: you are one of my oldest buyu and dearest friends; my travel compadre in foreign lands amid new cultures, "interesting" situations, and extraordinary experiences; a man I've learned an incredible amount from in terms of martial arts and life itself. I am humbled and honored to have been one small part of the New England Warrior Camp. You succeeded in creating not just the Camp - not just an amazing annual event treasured by all who have attended - but a enduring and lasting piece of the legacy itself. Years from now when we are all a part of the ethereal winds, those who come along the path after us will still speak of the Camp and your contribution to a living lineage that continues to evolve and grow thanks to men like you. Gassho!