On Saturday, Nov. 9, Master Vance Britt, of Bordentown, New Jersey visited the Garberville\Redway area to teach a martial arts seminar for the students of Dragon Heart Tang Soo Do, under Master Becky Rupp. The group was also joined by Tang Soo Do practitioners throughout the North Coast region – with more than 20 martial artists in attendance in the gymnasium at Redway School.
Just the week before, Master Britt had been hunkered down at his home in Bordentown, New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy as it flooded coastal towns and destroyed infrastructure along it’s path into New England. He says that other areas took the worst of the damage, but there were still some frightening moments. At one point Master Britt was concerned that high winds could tear the roof off his house, or bring a nearby tree down onto his walls – but he tells the story in a calm, fearless tone, with a smile on his face.
Other residents of the New Jersey Coast had more difficult experiences – made worse by an inability to leave the area once the storm had rendered mass transit inoperable. He says those caught in the disaster zone were given plenty of warning.
"The governor specifically went on TV and spoke, almost in a bullyish kind of way. ‘Get out of town. Leave. Do not stay – this is dangerous.’ And people still didn’t take it seriously, as people will. So what were the results? They were trapped. And people had to wait until they could get in there with some kind of help," Master Britt said.
"A lot of times it’s one way in, one way out," he added. "Where I was located, it wasn’t that much of a problem. But for a lot of people it was bogged up. And at a certain point in time, they shut everything down – so you couldn’t get in, and you couldn’t get out."
He says that the upside of his experience weathering Hurricane Sandy was watching his community come together to help each other in their time of common need. "The smallest little things sometimes make the biggest impressions. Just to say, ‘are you okay?’ Sometimes that makes things that much easier to bear."
After the storm passed and the power came back on Britt was surprised to find that his trip to the redwoods was still an option. Despite high-profile failures in mass transit like the flooded subway system in New York, planes were still flying.
"I was a little worried I might have to cancel this trip," he told the Redwood Times. "At one point they were saying they may have to delay flights, because of the weather. But the weather just came in and came out."
"This is my second year coming here, and I love this place," Britt said. "I walk around these trees, and I just inhale – it’s like life is coming back in. And I’ve been doing martial arts for a little while – so there are elements and things that I feel – but when I’m here, I’m able to cope with that better. That’s what I discovered last time. It’s kind of magical."
To find out more about Master Britt’s annual seminars or local martial arts instruction contact Master Becky Rupp at Dragon Heart Tang Soo Do, 915 Redwood Drive, Suite E, Garberville, or call 923-2886.
REDWOOD TIMES PHOTOS BY DAVE BROOKSHER
1. Master Vance Britt using drills to teach Korean swordplay to local Tang Soo Do students.
2. Master Britt wielding a wooden practice sword, sometimes referred to as a bokken or shinai.
3. Master Becky Rupp, of Garberville’s Dragon Heart Tang Soo Do.