I always like to arrive 3 days before the Gasshuku starts to give the Chief Instructor and Assistants private training to enhance their enthusiasm. On arriving at Gdansk Airport I was met by Andrzej Markowski and after a 2 hour drive we arrived at the Guest House where I was staying, Słoneczny Dom ul. Słoneczna 20 84-360 Łeba - Nowecin Poland.
Next morning I gave private training to Sensei Marian Czyikowski teaching him Suparinpai Kata in detail. In the evening he took me to his new Dojo and I conducted a class for some of the people that had helped him renovate the Dojo.
The training started on Friday evening, I covered all Basics and Combinations. On Saturday morning it was the Children first and we had a great time although it was only a small group, then it was time for Adults. Sensei Adam Litwinski came, it was nice to see him again.
After a short warm up the next 4 hours was Self-defense and Combinations, the last hour was for Yudansha in Kata detail. In February I will by in Poland again to give a Gasshuku to Black Belts only, detail in advance Kata and Applications.
This would be a great opportunity for all Black Belts in Poland to come together and enjoy a training w/end, Contact Sensei Marian for details.
Sensei George Andrews
Photos courtesy of Marian Czylkowski
This year the Gasshuku was later than usual in April, as one of the most regular participants’ Sensei Gavin Hill from Australia was busy with work. There were less people than previous years only 11 people training but we still had a great time training and socialising together.
The training was for 4 hours in temperatures reaching 35°C. Physical training and one hour lectures on Anatomy, Biology, Physiology, Criminology, Nutrition and Prevention to add to this delight, Fresh Fruit and Cool Water would replenish every day the lost Nutrients, Minerals and Vitamins, because without this you would probably pass out with dehydration and Fatigue.
All aspects of the IOGKF curriculum were implemented, but a great emphasis was on impact work and endurance training Methodologies.
Then we all went down to the beach for a Massage, laying there listening to the waves with a warm breeze for an hour to isolate all pains and tension that the training had brought.
Everyday students weighed themselves before and after training and most lost 3 – 5 kilos. For the evening entertainment, we all met for dinner and sampled some of the best Sea Food, Steak House and Thai Food you can imagine, and very inexpensive.
As to the Welcome Party, there was so much food that we could only eat half; there was Fish for all people, Chicken, Pork, Large Prawns, and Green and Coconut Curry and Rice.
The Hotel we stayed in, The Spa Garden Resort in Lamai, which was fantastic. The Owner and Staff were very kind and helpful, there was a free shuttle to the beach every day, and a tour of the Island for a fee, this Gasshuku is unique and you will never forget it.
Since 2002 I have conducted about 50 Gasshuku, from Slupsk, Wrocław, Lebork, Wicko, Bydgoszcz, Piotrków Trybunalski,Radom, it has always been a pleasure.
As to this trip I was met by Sensei Marion and Andrzej on Wednesday and after a good night’s sleep and breakfast on Thursday morning it was time for private training with Sensei Marion. The training was in preparation for his up and coming examination so the concentration was on Sesan Kata and Bunkai over and over again and the same on Friday morning.
The Gasshuku started Friday evening in Wicko, then on Saturday in Lebork. Training started with the Children for the first hour and then the Adults for 4 hours. The Gasshuku was opened by the Mayor of Lebork and I was honoured for the 50th year in Karate – Do and presented with a Plaque and a medal with a Diploma.
Sunday morning Sensei Adam Litwinski took the warm up with all the Adults and after the Children’s class had finished, the training was only Kata and Bunkai from Geki Sai Dai Ichi to Sesan, everyone was very happy to cover all the Kata and shown all of the Bunkai.
Then for the next 2 hours it was time for 2 candidates to show their proficiency, Sensei Marion Czylkowski and Mateusz Jedrzejczy. Kihon, Kata Bunkai,Yakasoku Kumite, Impact work and of course 100 push ups, sit ups and star jumps. I’m glad to say that they were both successful in their attempts, Godan Pass and Shodan Pass.
I also gave private training to Senseis Adam and Marion together, focussing on Sesan Kata and Bunkai, in addition Sensei Pawel Iwaszkiiewicz concentrating on Kururunfa Kata and Bunkai.
I look forward to seeing you all again in October, my special thanks to Monika & Andrzej Markowski for taking care of me.
There were 30 countries in attendance, about 80 people, Chief Instructors and 5th Dan and above. The training started at the famous Okinawa Kenristu Budokan for the first day, then we moved to the pristine Okinawa Karate Kaikan, Higaonna Sensei arrived and looked in good spirit and was happy to see us all. After the greetings the words echoed “Line up”.
The adrenalin started to flow in anticipation for the Master to start the class, after 4 hours of pure Okinawan Goju – Ryu Karate – Do all appetites were replenished and a few cobwebs were removed.
Great attention was paid to detail to Kata and Bunkai, Higaonna Sensei scrutinised everyone and said, only basic bunkai not variation, as we worked in partners.
Sometimes Higaonna Sensei would say I can’t do this movement now but you must try, then he would demonstrate the movement and you could see and feel the power and speed of his technique.
Higaonna Sensei spoke about Karate Ni Sente Nashi, “There exists no first attack, because all Kata begin with a block."
My body is feeling tried but I have a renewed enthusiasm to develop and improve my Kata after being in the presence of the Master.
The venue was Woldingham School, a Roman Catholic independent school for girls, located in the former Marden Park of 700 acres (2.8 sq. km) outside the village of Woldingham, Surrey, in South East England. It is a member of the global Network of Sacred Heart Schools. This venue had been selected as it is in the most idyllic surroundings and peaceful settings for a Gasshuku, which means Eating, Sleeping and Training Together.
I was very happy because everyone was enjoying the training and able to go Swimming after the training in a heated Pool and participate in hand ball games. In the evening the entertainment, we had lectures on Criminology, Prevention, Nutrition and History of Karate-Do, also quizzes on General Knowledge and Music, because there was only 38 people everyone knew each other and could talk and relate on the day’s findings.
The concept of Goju Ryu Karate-Do as Higaonna Sensei has always told me is Quality not Quantity; the training program consisted of the IOGKF Curriculum combined with Knife defense, Weapons training with Sensei André Leister, and Kata and Application training with Sensei’s Dick Lovett and Dave Amber. There was also a non-stop hands only Boxing session for 20 minutes in which you could test out your skills or fears. The last 20 minutes was dedicated to using your imagination and readings on all the Kata and diagnosis using nature as a text book.
At this point I would like to thank my Committee members Sensei’s Louise and Martin Stockley for their effort in making this Gasskuku a total success, without them this would not happen. And of course without your commitment in attending this course it would not happen.
Next year we will not be holding this Course as EGKA are holding the IOGKF European Gasshuku in London, and I would like everyone to support this event.
Sensei George Andrews
Editors note: During this gasshuku we took the opportunity to celebrate Sensei George's achievement of 50 years dedication to traditional karate-do. We enjoyed a magnificent cake together on the Friday evening and at the end of training on Saturday Sensei George was presented with a commemorative plaque.
It was a lovely sunning morning, so I decided to go for a walk. I noticed a little mouse sitting by the waters edge, having a drink and cleaning her fluffy brown coat. I said good morning miss mouse what a lovely day, she replied in a joyful tone “good morning”.
I carried on walking, looking in front of me, hopping across my path was a very busy inquisitive squirrel collecting leaves for her house. I said good morning miss squirrel you look very busy, “oh yes” she replied, "I’ve got to clean my house and prepare my food, sorry can’t stop, bye", I said okay.
As I passed the lake, the sun was reflecting like a gleaming torch, I had to put my hand up to my eyes to see, the many sounds of all the different birds and insects. On the open the water were little boatman racing each other and below them was some very inquisitive fish. Just then I heard a cry for help, coming from the direction from where I just came from. It was miss mouse, running towards me, she looked very upset, I asked what’s wrong? She said "my brother’s fallen in the water and he can’t swim and I can’t see him, please, please help me to find him". Her brother and sister were playing chase, running in and out of the grass then up and on to a tree, then on to a branch not realising that the branch was over deep water, tripped and fell in.
I quickly ran back to where they were playing, looked at the water but could not see any bubbles or movement so I crouched down close to see if I could spot him, there was nothing, no sign of the little mouse I shouted call the doctor now hurry. Carefully putting my hand in so I did not disturb the water, I felt around on the bottom, stretching my arm as far as I could, from right to left then back and forwards, suddenly I felt a lump, my heart beat faster, but it was only a tin can, I was really frightened, just then I felt a smaller lump so I pull it out, I shouted I’ve got him, miss mouse shouted thank god, I quickly moved away from the water and laid this little mouse on the ground. I tried as much as I could to bring this very still little ball of fluff back to life, I kept rubbing his little tummy, over and over again, just then he cough and spluttered and water started to come out of his mouth, his sisters looking on started cheering and crying with happiness, I to started to cry. I continued rubbing his tummy until he got up, he was a very lucky little mouse, after a while he was sitting up. Just then the doctor arrived, to check the mouse, looking into the mouse's eyes checking down his throat and checking his pulse, the doctor turned and said he will be fine, so we all went back to their house for tea.
The little mouse was sitting at the table next to me having some cake and turned to me and said thank you for saving my life, there was tears in his eyes and he gave me a big cuddle, he started to cry, and said I promise I will never go near the water again, I have learnt my lesson, I said that’s good.
He said how can I ever repay you, I said your friendship is enough, and we held hands. I said next time you go near water, make sure that mum or dad is with you, but if you are with your friends and they say lets go in the water you say No, and go and tell your mum or dad, because the same thing will happen to your friends and we don’t want that, so we finished our tea, and then settled down to watch the telly.
I arrived in Gdansk to a chilling morning and was met by Sensei Marian Czylkowski. We made our way to Leba where I would stay for the duration of my trip; the guest house is run by Sensei’s Andrzej and Monika Markowski. After settled in, I was invited to join Andrzej and his family and Sensei Marian for dinner, because I have not been to Poland for 2 years we had a lot to catch up on, and to discuss the schedule for this visit.
The next day I invited Sensei Marian for private training, I checked his Kata and he as improved then breaking down Seisan Kata he was very pleased to be corrected, then I invited Andrzei and his wife Monika to join us working through the curriculum and corrective training all seemed very happy.
The Gasshuku was over 3 days starting on Friday evening, with Basics and Kata with Applications the time went so quick.
Saturday morning after breakfast we made our way to the Dojo where I was greeted by the Children, who were eagerly waiting for training, and then it was the turn of the Adults. After a brisk warm up, Kata and Bunkai dominated most of the session, as a plus I talk, about using your imagination in Kata and added some Buddhist concept in Kata.
On Sunday morning once again it was the Children ready and waiting; as I entered the Dojo I was greeted by Sensei Adam Litwinski a long time student of mine, and the Senior Instructor of IOGKF in Poland. Then once again Adults training with warm up first, then Bunkai from Gekisai to Sanseru, and then an introduction to basic knife defence, to finish Sanchin, Turning Sanchin and Tensho with Bunkai, everyone was happy with the diversity of techniques.
After 8 hours of Karate – Do it was time for the examination, 5 people lined up ready to test then after scrutinising each one only 4 sat the test, then after 2 hours of the curriculum, I’m please to announce the all were successful in their attempt. So congratulations to Andrzei Markowski, 3rd Dan Pass, Monika Markowski 2nd Pass, Katarzyna Becker 2nd Dan Pass and Slawomir Zdanowski 2nd Dan Pass, I would just like to add how much I was impressed with the Ladies, well done to all.
My special thanks to the Mayor of Wicko Mr. Dariusz Walaśkiewicz for his support in making this Gasshuku a very successful event.
This Summer the OTGKA held a residential training course at Ardingly College in Sussex. Training together, eating together and sleeping under one roof, coming together as a community. Students started arriving late morning on Friday 19th August in time to start commence at 2pm. After 3 hours of training several students took advantage of the large swimming pool on site to relax in. We then gathered in the dining hall of the college for our dinner. Everyone agreed that the food provided over the weekend was superb. The first day was rounded off with a "pub quiz" - kindly provided by The Empress pub in Cambridge.
On Saturday we trained for a full day, 9 - 12.30 and 2.30 - 5. The day started with everyone training together under Sensei George. We then split into three groups according to grade and enjoyed the rest of the day training further with Sensei George, who focussed on knife defense, Sensei Andre, who kindly provided an introduction to the bo staff and Sensei Joost, who ran a session devoted to break-falls and ground work techniques. After another chance to relax in the pool and sharing our evening meal, we listened to brief lectures on a variety of topics.
The weekend finished on Sunday with a final morning of training in groups under Sensei George, Sensei Dick and Sensei Dave. This was the largest event that the OTGKA has run for several years. Many thanks to all of the instructors and participants for making this a great event. We have received lots of positive feedback so the association will organise a similar event for next Summer.
Chief Instructor OTGKA