Well, the 10th annual Gathering of the Tribes has come and gone now leaving in its wake many smiles, achy bodies, bruises galore, sleep deprivation, and fond memories. This event has always strived to be a place for sharing ideas, and building community, as well as physical training…a place for finding/strengthening family. This year proved to be no different.
Our numbers have hovered, historically, in the twenties for attendance. We don’t do a lot of advertising. Mostly, you have to know someone who’s already here…and almost always we’ve communicated in some form or another prior to the Gathering at least a couple times. It wasn’t consciously planned, but just sort of evolved this way. Most years we get about thirty (plus) people who want to attend, but then, for one reason or another, are unable to. (Hence the twenty-ish) An attrition of 25-30% is pretty typical, which makes this year so different. Of the 42 people who signed up, we had 38 in attendance, and that’s not including families! There were more families and kids here this year than ever before...our property resembled a State Park with all the tents and campers present.
There were many first time faces to join the veteran Tribe members, and based on feedback I’ve received so far, it looks like everyone felt welcome.
I’m not going to do much in the way of review for the various training workshop because I wasn’t able to attend the majority of them…and other people have, or will, review them in their own posts.
The reason I wasn’t working on the mats/grass much was because I was kept very busy teaching the knife making classes. I was surprised and pleasantly overwhelmed by the response to the Bladesmithing offering this year. The people who participated in the class ranged from “almost no experience with power tools whatsoever,” to returning blade smiths from last year’s class (and everything in-between). Many of them started out with blanks I’d roughed out ahead to save time. A couple started from scratch with their own designs. All of them were unique.
They definitely kept me busy, but had such patience and dedication to their work that they turned out some very beautiful blades. I was truly touched that they would want take the time to try this. Joseph, Todd, Geoffrey, Jeff, Kym, Josh…thank you for allowing me to share this with you.
Another facet of the Gathering is recognition of achievements or services through out the year..some of them are humorous ribbing, others are genuine salutes. My good friend Bobbe made the revelation this past year, through some Ancestry research, that he is in fact, Dutch. My wife (being Dutch-Indo) and I decided to put together a little “welcome to Dutchdom” care package for him…which he will never forget. (…or forgive, most likely…) Along with this, he was issued Bunny Slippers (made by our own Tina Gray) in honor of his 2D self from the previous year.
Next, Jay welcomed new additions to the KSMA branch of the family. Jacob, Hannah, Amberly, Geoffrey, and Chuck (Sullivan), it’s good to have you on board. “Brotherhood” status was also conferred to Bobbe and Buzz.
Now we weren’t the only ones with recognition “machinations” going on here. Bobbe had his own devious plans in the works as well. With Edmonds Martial Arts, it’s rare to get publicly recognized for anything serious. (For instance, if you happen come to class with your fly down, Bobbe is likely to “publicly recognize” you loud enough for the neighboring counties to hear…repeatedly; but that’s not something you’re likely to hang on your wall.)
Well, this year, we at the Gathering were privileged to witness Bobbe taking a moment to be serious and recognize two outstanding people from his crew, publicly. Todd and Joseph were both granted Na-Guro for their excellence and dedication to training. If you don’t know Bobbe, you won’t be able to truly appreciate what this means…so take my word for it, it’s Something.
But wait, there’s more…
After this, we were supposed to be surprising Buzz with something…and I was (I thought) pretty much in charge of “organizing” everything. Little did I know that I wasn’t totally in the “loop”. Apparently the rest of them had plotted behind my back to surprise me. *insert sheepish grin here*
Well, they pulled it off. Buzz and Deb honored me with a beautiful Shadow Box that held one of my favorite phrases… “Life in Every Breath.” I was truly speechless. (Those of you who know me can shut up now…I can hear you laughing…) For the story on that phrase, email me or call me and I’ll share it with you…it was a turning point for me.
So, we’re back on the list of presentations that I am part of…Buzz’s surprise 60th birthday party. A bunch of us had been planning this for almost a year, lead by Mrs. Treachery herself, the Momma Pixie…Deb Smith. As a lead in, Bobbe (Pendekar Dutchboy) did a rather impromptu Roast of not only Buzz, but the majority of the Core Gathering Members. (My favorite was the bit about Buzz’s Anyo’s, or forms, being originally for defense against Velociraptors!)
Next we presented Buzz the “Guardian of the Tribe”, a special Kuntaw inspired blade…which was possible due to the whole Tribe coming together to make it happen. We also presented him a framed “card” signed by all the contributors. Happy Birthday, Maha Guru Buzz! (You can see more pics of the blade on this website.)
This ended the presentations for Saturday and now it was time for potluck feast. Per our historical offerings, Jeanne and I supplied the Grilled Chicken Sate. The Pinda Sauce was excellent! I think it lasted about 5 minutes. (I could be wrong…it might’ve been less) Food and merriment went on into the late hours with the Gathering core members doing a twilight podcast, 2-3 hours long, which it was later discovered, never recorded. (We revisited it the next evening and actually recorded one.)
The next day, there was one more presentation to be made. For his hard work and dedication to his studies in Pencak Silat Pertempuran (PSP) was my good friend, Sterling Heibeck, was awarded the rank of Pelatih. He will be teaching PSP at the Innovative Martial Arts dojo on Tuesday nights. If you’re interested in studying with him you can contact Sterling, or myself, (contact info is on our website) for more details.
There are a few unsung heroes of the Gathering who really need to be mentioned here as well…
Jeanne, my wife, should be nominated for Sainthood. Most would not believe how much effort she puts in before the weekend festivities. With me in school, working, as well as teaching classes, a majority of prepping the house for invasion was left to her. Add to that being a Den Mother to all of us heathens during the Gathering… *insert headshake here*… and the post war clean up after the event. (…and this isn’t even discussing the demon-possessed plumbing that decide to rear its ugly head during the Gathering…and the week after.) This is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Jeanne, I love you…thank you for all your hard work and patience!
Amberly is very close friend, occasional student/workout partner, and incredible unsung hero during the weeks leading up to, and during, the Gathering. She came over numerous times to help prep the house, as well as assist with transportation to and from the Airport, Food prep, and just helping to keep things running smooth. Thank you Amberly!
Alicia, another friend of the family, came over to hang out and ended up helping out tremendously! You were awesome! Thank you for all your help. From photographing events, to helping with prepping and clean up…you totally rocked!
Tina, Deb…you’ve always stepped up unasked, and really made a difference. This has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for lightening the load. Tina, you did an absolutely fantastic job on designing the Logo for the Gathering!
I know there are people I’ve failed to mentioned…and for that please accept my apologies. Just know that everyone pulling together is what makes the Gathering a success year after year. Thank you.
After Sunday’s festivities wrap up in the afternoon, people generally begin to pack it in and head home. There are still numerous little classes going on the side here and there…but mostly, things are done, and the energy levels change to more of a relaxed sort.
Jeanne and I were fortunate to be able to spend a few days with some of our closest friends just chilling and relaxing…as well as spend some time getting to know some new friends a bit better outside the friendly chaos that is the Gathering. What a great way to be able to wind down an excellent event…
Richard Bach said, “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”
To those of you returning, it was great to see you all again…to catch up, strengthen our friendships, and reconnect. To those of you who are new…welcome to the Tribe. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
Peace and Safe Journeys…
Chuck Pippin - Innovative Martial Arts