I attend seminars, lots of seminars. The first year of full time work, post-university, I estimate that I spent the equivalent of a month’s wage on seminars. I recent years I’ve become much more discerning over what seminars I attend. Seminars have to have value.
Value in terms of information learned, techniques practiced, principles absorbed, bruises earned. But there’s more to it than that. There’s the social aspect, friendships forged, laughs shared, stories swapped and deals made. And then there is cake.
Until recently I have found no pleasure in cooking, it was just a necessary chore. However, I love food, my abdomen gives evidence of that despite how much I train. I have great respect for those with the ability to create dishes that tempt the senses and pleasure the palate. I suppose I’ve just never had the time or inclination to get good at cooking and I was terminally uninspired by food preparation in school and at home. The food I create is bland and simple, but functional. I am a true product of university where beer is more important than nutrition and cutlery should not be necessary as we eat with one hand and scribble annotations to lecture notes with the other.
As an aside, and there is a link here, I’m also a Star Wars fan, I love Star Wars. The wise words of Master Yoda frequently feature into my dojo teachings and I’ve read too many of the novels to recount. So my best friend bought me the Star Wars Cookbook for my birthday one year. Yes, there’s a Star Wars Cookbook, two of them actually. Well being the man of manners that I am, if I am going to be bought such a thing then I am going to appreciate it. So, with trepidation I had a try of Wookiee Cookies. Like a kata, I copied the recipe precisely initially. Over time I’ve experimented. These cookies seem to have become a trademark of sorts. In the not-too-distant past my club held a first aid update day to which I brought some of these cookies. I recall vividly our teacher talking us through anaphylaxis whilst chomping on yet another cookie! I have to say I started to take pride and pleasure in my cookies and so my adventurousness began.
My current love is making cheesecake, chocolate orange cheesecake, Aero mint cheesecake, crème egg cheesecake. I’ve never had one fail, and I starting taking my cookies or my cheesecake to seminars. The third Bunkai Bash saw a bake-off of sorts and I would like to believe our respective deserts were the highlight of the visit for Kris Wilder from West Seatle Karate Academy.
or me, the social aspect is every bit as important as the training aspect of classes, seminars, camps and residential weekends. I have formed what I would like to believe is an extended family through different organisations and through meeting and training with fellow martial artists over an almost thirty-year plus period. Everybody brings something to the table, be it humour, experience, wisdom, knowledge, philosophy. Me, I bring cheesecake.
Creating these dishes is actually therapeutic, I enjoy doing them. I take pleasure in friends taking pleasure from them. I’m humbled at being asked specifically to bring my cakes to seminar. I’m gratified that they’re seen as part of the event. And after a day of training, sitting down and taking in guilt-free and gorgeous-tasting calories is therapeutic too.
Training should be a joy. Cake is a joy. Make cake part of your training!