Docklands Instructors and other ETA members IIC Utrecht 19-21 November 2010

It was a very early morning, 4a.m., still dark, when we set off once again to Utrecht, Holland for the 57th International Instructors Course. There were five of us travelling in the car: Peter driving, Master Denis, Graham and Suz Patterson and myself. The journey took about 7 hours, with us sleeping, talking, listening to music, eating sweets and fuelling up with Coca Cola all the way. At the Eurotunnel we met the other car with Master Ellis, Nick Simonds, Gary Smith, Andy Hobbs and Jeff Warren. When we arrived, we went to the Registration point, and straight to the Hall, as there was no time to go to the Hotel to check in. The first seminar started at 14:00, as we got out of the car, like zombies after a sleepless night, hardly ready for a 4-hour session. The seminars would be led by the three grandmasters: Pablo Trajtenberg and Hector Marano from Argentina, and Wim Bos originally from the Netherlands, but now residing in Italy. It was impressive to see 200 black belts from different countries, all in one hall, training together. It was quite tough to stay concentrated, at some points feeling sleepy, at others dizzy from lack of food in the body and a lack of sleep. Having survived the first day, we headed to our lovely 4-star Hotel in the northern part of Utrecht, which I luckily managed to book at a very nice price. We went straight down for dinner, and had the biggest meal, after starving ourselves for the whole day.

The next morning we had to be down for breakfast at 7a.m., and luckily it was a buffet breakfast, as we knew that our next meal would be at dinner time. The second-day seminar was longer, mostly consisting of going through all patterns up to the II dan. It was good to learn how to correct patterns, always starting from the stance, then the body, and finally the hand technique. In between patterns we did various exercises, such as running around with no particular destination, and pushing or pulling anyone that comes in your way. Then we’d suddenly grab a partner, and perform kicks, punches, or other techniques. Then back to running around, then dropping on the floor to do press-ups, or stretches, or wrestling-type games. Then we’d line up again for more patterns, or sit down to listen to explanations and clarifications. The second day ended at around 3pm for us, which followed by a Masters’ grading. We were not allowed to watch a grading higher than our grade, so instead we went to see Philip Lear’s grading for his 6th Dan with Master Ellis, in a different location. Thankfully it ended without any injuries, and it was quite spectacular and educational to watch.

When we came back to our Hotel, we headed right down to the Sauna, which was free to use. That was such a good remedy to relax and recover a bit. After our sauna session, my sister came to see me (she lives in a near-by city), and the six of us went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. The food was lovely, a good variety and quantity! After dinner we went back to the Hotel to play pool.

The next morning, 7a.m. breakfast once more, packed lunch for later, and we set off for our last-day seminar. It started with 4th Dan patterns, however that took longer than was initially planned, and so the group was divided, where the 4th degrees and higher continued with patterns, and the lower grades were taught some self-defence, 1- and 2-step sparring, and other similar exercises. Then, towards the end, the whole group sang Happy Birthday to Master Willy Van De Mortel’s daughter, who turned 14 on that day. That was quite entertaining.


The IIC ended with a photo session, with every country taking turns having their picture taken with the three grandmasters. England was curiously last. Having missed our scheduled 5 o’clock train at the Eurotunnel because of that, we managed to drive onto the next one, to be back in London in the evening.

I enjoyed my first IIC experience, and will definitely attend more in the future. It is great to see more and more familiar faces every time, as the world becomes a smaller place.



Sofia Pernikis