I was invited to conduct a Gasshuku by Kevin and Mika Duff, who stayed and trained in the London Honbu Dojo for 18 months. I was happy to travel to the states at this time of year because the temperature was 25°C with beautiful blue skies.
I arrived at night and was met by Kevin and Mika; we made our way to the hotel where I was staying, a very comfortable place called Radisson Hotel San Diego – Rancho Bernardo, with Swimming Pool and Hot Spa.
On Thursday I gave private training at Sensei Steve Daz Dojo for an hour or so and on Friday evening I started teaching to a very enthusiastic group of people, on Saturday I met the Children of the Dojo and trained them for an hour, and they enjoyed every minute of the training, look forward to seeing them on Sunday.
With the senior on Saturday I tried to give as much information as I could, they seemed to absorb the training quite well. On Sunday Kata, Basics, Pad work, Kakie and readings on subjects like Nutrition, Prevention, Street Awareness and History, all facilitated by Mika, so thank you for your input
I was very happy to see Sensei Gene Ville 7th Dan IOGKF, who is the Chief Instructor of the U.S.A. and Sensei Steve Daz 5th Dan IOGKF, Dojo director.
But it was not all about Karate – Do, one of my old students that trained and lived in the Marble Factory. Sensei Miko Peled 6th Dan invited me to brunch in the Hotel Del Coronado on the beach where the film “Some like It Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe, stayed and many famous Hollywood stars.
Next day I received a phone call and to my surprise, Sensei Paul Enfield 6th Dan who trained with me in England, invited me and Kevin to lunch; it was wonderful to meet Sensei Paul’s wife Michelle who also trains in Karate, we had a great time together.
As much as I love my England, I was happy to be in Sunny California however, before long it was time to head for the airport.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making the trip a success, and look forward to February 2014, if the gods will.
In Goju Ryu it seems that three is indeed the magic number. At the heart of the system is Sanchin Kata, which translates as Three Battles, referring to the physical, mental and spiritual challenges. The number three also describes regions of the body, Jodan, Chudan and Gedan. For this month, the number three meant consecutive weekends of training courses with Masters of the style.
The month started with the regular monthly course held at the OTGKA Honbu Dojo in London with our Chief Instructor Sensei George Andrews, 8th Dan. As I train regularly with Sensei George it is easy to become complacent, easy to forget the decades that he has devoted to the Martial Arts and the literally countless students Sensei George has taught around the world.
The following weekend I joined hundreds of fellow practitioners of Karate-Do in Liverpool for the EGKA’s 40th Anniversary celebrations. We were privileged to receive instruction from the IOGKF Supreme Master, Morio Higaonna Sensei, 10th Dan. On the Friday evening a group of roughly 150 black belts practiced the fundamentals of Goju Ryu Karate-Do, under the instruction of Higaonna Sensei, together with the IOGKF Chief Instructor Tetsuji Nakamura Sensei, 7th Dan. The following two days included sessions with Sensei Ernie Molyneux, 8th Dan, Sensei Roy Flatt, 7th Dan and Sensei Paul Nolan, 7th Dan. There is so much to learn within the Goju Ryu system, that the weekend was filled with very little practice of kata. Nakamura Sensei introduced us to the concept of environmental friendly karate, or efficiently moving with relaxed muscles rather than using strength. Other personal highlights included a rapid session on self defence techniques and an interesting twist on bunkai practice. The weekend finished with a Master’s Demo, including a very special performance
of Shotokan Kata by Natsuko Mineghishi Sensei, assisted by Sensei Terry O’Neill, 8th Dan.
The last weekend of this trilogy was a remarkable course devoted to aid Sensei Paul Coleman, 7th Dan, in his fight against cancer. The Oxford Brookes University training facilities were provided free of charge and the instructors waived any fee to allow every penny of the money raised to support Sensei Paul. The line up of instructors was an inspiration in itself. Sensei James Rousseau, 9th Dan, the instructor responsible for spreading Goju Ryu in England and across Europe and three of the instructors that trained with him from the introduction, Sensei Tony Christian, 8th Dan, Sensei George Andrews, 8th Dan and Sensei Len Sim, 7th Dan. As if four masters were not enough, they were joined by Sensei Paul himself and Sensei Kevin Nason, 7th Dan. The junior students were taught by Sensei Penny Hughes and Sensei Natasha Coleman. Highlights of the training included the clarity of instruction from Sensei James, focusing on fast movement from the right starting position; a whirlwind tour of the martial arts world from Sensei Tony, bringing everything back to Goju Ryu, including the trinity of boxing (another important three) and practice of Hojo Undo and kakie with Sensei George.
Training with friends new and old, under inspirational instructors, it’s as if Christmas came early this year!
Cambridge Goju Ryu
Higaonna Sensei at the EGKA 40th Anniversary celebrations in Liverpool
Instructors at the Paul Coleman Benefit Course, L-R: Sensei Kevin Nason, Len Sim, Tony Christian, James Rousseau, George Andrews and Paul Coleman
Sensei Marian Czlkowski invited me to conduct a Gasshuku in Lebork and Wicko. These two towns are in the north of Poland, close to the Sea, during the summer months they are bustling with holiday makers.
Arriving at my accommodation, which is run by Andrzej & Monica Markowski, you are greeted by a warm and family atmosphere, the hotel is very close to the Sea, I would recommend anyone if you are going to Poland. www.pensjonatwlebie.pl
Training started in Lebork Friday evening, and on Saturday and Sunday training was in Wicko with All Grades. I concentrated on San Dan Gi, One – Eight, three steps and then six steps, Kata and Bunkai plus Kakie, in the mean time I was conducting one to one training with Sensei Marian and Andrzej and his wife Monica at the Hotel every day before we went to the Dojo.
They really enjoyed the private training and said that they would like me to come to Poland twice a year, because the people of Poland were asking for that and everyone will be welcome.
At the end of the training sessions I gave a lecture to 80 people on the different scenarios you would encounter on teaching Children, and conducted a grading for some of the Seniors that have trained with me from 2001. After a gruelling 2 hour exam, I can report that they were successful in their attempt namely Sensei’s Marian Czlkowski Yondan pass, Marcin Marcinkowski Sandan pass, Paweł Iwaszkiewicz Sandan pass, congratulations.
But it was not all about training, I was invited to visit Andrzej Markowski uncle who is an artist and works with Silver, I could not believe my eyes when I saw what to me was a wood sculpture, in fact it was made of Silver. He has commissions from all over the world and works closely with the (Hasidim) a mystical Jewish movement founded in Poland in the 18th century in reaction to the rigid academicism of rabbinical Judaism.
Then I was invited to a Sanatorium (Polish Health Clinic). I did not know what to expect, to my delight I was placed on a bed and was inserted into a apparatus which is called Air Compression Therapy System Blood Circulation Massager
and it was great. I was then taken to a Mud bath for 15 minutes and to finish 20 minutes on a water jet bed, I felt like I was walking on water. www.zdrowotel.pl/
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mayor of Wicko MA Dariusz Waleskiewicz for his continuous support in making this event a success. Looking forward to meeting you all again in April 2014.
Arriving at Catania airport on Sunday, a chartered bus was waiting for some of the people arriving at the same time as me. To my surprise my good friends Rob and Adrienne Langgartner from Canada where on the same bus.
On arriving at the Hotel, which was next to the sea, I quickly registered and after unpacking it was straight to the swimming pool to cool down, the temperature was in the 30’s.
That evening I met up with the entire Canadian contingent and the famous Howie Hamilton, we had dinner together at a wonderful Sea Food and Pizza Restaurant, then it was time for bed in anticipation of what tomorrow will bring.
Wake up at 6.30 and a light breakfast and then to training. The first morning was for 3rd Dans to 8th Dans with the Master. Sanchin and Sepai Kata would dominate the class, then all together with Higaonna Sensei for the warm up for 40 minutes, then the classes were spilt into groups for 3 hours.
Every day the schedule was the same, we practiced Kata and Higaonna Sensei explained in detail the finer points from Kata to Kata and Nakamura Sensei translated word for word that Higaonna Sensei spoke, particularly when the Master give an hour long lecture about History.
But it was not all about Karate, I was invited out to dinner with the Russia contingent, Sensei Pavel Klopov and his team, we had a wonderful sea food supper.
It’s always a pleasure to see old and new acquaintances, and so I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff for their hard work.
In the heart of London, in Spitalfields Market, people gathered to celebrate Okinawa Day, a great opportunity to experience Okinawan Classical & Folk Music, Eisa Dancing, Okinawan Food & Drinks and an array of Craft Stalls.
I arrived about midday with an assortment of traditional training aids, Chishi, Nigiri Game and Tetsu Sashi with impact pads as this is very rarely seen in the UK. We had a 40 minute slot and this year I took a small group of Children to participate in this year’s event, they were great and received a standing ovation.
Then it was the seniors turn to perform. I explained to the audience that today I would like to demonstrate a typical Karate session because people are not sure what to expect. We started with a warm up then moving basics followed by Traditional Supplementary Training Tools. People were amazed at the sheer power of some of the performers.
This was our 4th year attending this prestigious event, I would like to thank, Yoshi, Mutsumi and Mihoko San, The Committee of Okinawa Day 2013.
The Miyagi Chojun Festival was held in The Crown Plaza Hotel over looking the Niagara Falls with a breath taking view; the falls form the border between the USA and Canada.
I was met at Peterson International Airport in Toronto by Robert Langgartner who drove me to Burlington where I stayed with Howie Hamilton; these people are my friends and helped me so much.
The next morning we made our way to the Hotel on Niagara Falls, where the guest instructors were invited to have lunch with Master Higaonna, it was great to see him looking so well and in good spirit. Accompanying him was Sensei Choko Kyuna Shorin Ryu 10th Dan, a close friend of the Master.
After lunch, a brisk walk back to the hotel and after a small siesta it was time for training. First up it was all Black belts with Higaonna Sensei, then All Grades and finally group training till 7.30pm.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8.30 – 10.30 all grades, then group training till 1.30pm. On Sunday there was the Master’s Demo, Higaonna Sensei gave a demo of Renzoku Bunkai and Nakamura Sensei did Suparinpai Kata and Bunkai which received a standing ovation.
To conclude we had the Sayonara party with an appetite filling meal and then Higaonna Sensei read out the results, the famous word "Pass" was bellowed out many times to everyone’s delight, I was so happy to hear my friend’s name Howie Hamilton Sandan pass, I know it meant a lot to him, well done Lama.
But it was not all about Karate – Do; I was invited by Rob Langgarter to witness a sight not seen by most people at Beamer Memorial Area Trail, renowned as the best vantage point in the Niagara Peninsula to observe the annual migration of Birds of Prey which include Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Broad winged Hawks, and Kestrels.
The highlight for me was when Randy, who I have met a few times on previous Gasshukus, arranged for me and Nakamura Sensei to go fishing on his 32’ Cabin Cruiser. We were accompanied by Howie, Rob and Steve, great time had by all.
Look forward to seeing you again soon in Italy.
This was the 7th Gasshuku in Koh – Samui, it is the ideal place for those people that live in cold climates, it is a chance to train hard and enjoy the warm Sun, Sea and Beaches with a Night life second to none, and guaranteed temperatures of 33°C +.
The training was for 7 days with 5 hours a day, 10 – 12.30 and 5 – 7.30pm. This gave students the opportunity to compromise and have time in the afternoon and the evening with their familys.
Morning training focused on endurance and resilience, with a diversity of impact work and resistance, the temperature in the Dojo would reach 32 – 34°C so water breaks were frequent. After training had finished everyone was invited to a healthy fruit lunch which consisted of Papaya Fruit, Yellow Watermelon, Dragon Fruit and Sweet Pineapple and ice cool water, this helped replenish those essential vitamins and minerals that the body uses during training in a hot climate.
To enhance understanding about the body, there were readings on Physiology, Anatomy, Nutrition, Injury Prevention and History of Karate – Do.
Evening training focused on technical detail in the Goju Ryu curriculum, and one to one in Kata from Gekisai – Suparinpei, Sanchin, Sanchin Kotai and Tensho. People were saying that they lost 5 Kilo over the week.
But it was not all about Karate – Do, in the evening Koh Samui comes alive with many shops and small markets and Bars and Restaurants as far as the eye can see. Sea food caught that day is in abundance, which includes Tiger Prawns, Squid, Spider Crabs, Oysters, Lobster, Mussels and Cockles all cooked on a BBQ, and of course the meat, BBQ Spareribs, Steaks and Chicken and many different Curry’s.
That why I call it The Paradise Gasshuku, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people and staff for making this event a success and look forward to 2014 in Koh – Samui.
This is the 15th year that I have been teaching at the Institute of Traditional Karate – Do. In that time I have conducted twice yearly Black Belt Gradings and this time was one of the best, in terms of a true family feeling.
Training started on Saturday 10 – 4 with all grades. Prearranged Sparring then Kata, followed by supplementary training and Kakie which dominated the first 3 hours, and as always a healthy Lunch awaited their consumption. After all appetites were fulfilled and a catnap it was back to training, the next 2 hours would focus on Kata Applications and Katas Sanchin, Sanchin Kotai and Tensho.
Sunday morning we were blessed with a glimpse of blue sky and Sun and a raise in the temperature which was quite welcoming. I started with the traditional warm up and soon everyone isolated the fatigue from the previous day. Haishu Kata and Hojo Undo incorporating many Basics and 3 hours later the facial expressions said it all.
After the ceremonial salutation, I thanked everyone for their efforts in training; the atmosphere was one of gratification and serenity.
Then after Lunch it was time for the grading candidates to demonstrate their ability, 3 hours later with complete enthusiasm the grading was concluded. As I announced each candidate’s achievement, tears of happiness and jubilation were evident.
This is one of those times that I reminiscence about training in Cambridge University, Keble College to be precise in 1970, at that time I travelled up to Cambridge with a friend and quite well known music producer who trained in Karate at that time, Tony Visconti has worked with David Bowie for many years, other famous people he produce includes, T. Rex, Mary Hopkins and ...Tom Paxton and today, after four decades, is still going strong.
The course was over two days; the venue was the Cambridge University Press which is respected worldwide for its commitment to advancing knowledge, education, learning and research. Founded on a royal charter granted to the University by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest Press in the world and has been operating continuously as a printer and publisher since the first Press book was printed in 1584.
I was invited by Sensei’s Martin and Louise Stockley who are resident instructors in Cambridge, on Saturday training would start at 2.30 – 5.30pm. Training began with the traditional warm up and then moving basics in the form of San Dan Gi, from one to eight.
Then Kakie would dominate the next hour and to finish impact work for 35 minutes non stop, at the end everyone was fatigued but completely satisfied. On Sunday training started at 10am with Black Belts, Kata and Bunkai would dominate the first hour, and then it was all grades for the next 3 hours, but it was not all about Karate – Do. I was on Saturday evening invited to dinner in a Japanese Restaurant in the centre of Cambridge, Sushi and Fish Soup was my choice, it was delicious.
My Special thanks to Sensei Tony Green, Chief Instructor of Jundokan UK, for his support and Sensei’s Martin and Louise Stockley for taking care of me.
Introduction / Venue
Reading Goju-Ryu Karate Club invited Sensei George to the Pulse8 Gym at the Nirvana Spa, Sindlesham, to instruct an all grades / all ages course on Sunday 27th January. The event had been planned for some time and was the Reading Club’s way of honouring Sensei George’s recent promotion to 8th Dan.
The venue was excellent, with a spacious training area and immaculate facilities.
The Reading club was well represented and Sensei was delighted that other Goju practitioners had travelled from Hereford, Bristol and Hampshire to attend. There were over 25 of us in attendance.
The course began in traditional style with preparatory exercises, these are always demanding and the atmosphere was just the right side of formal as quite a few of us struggled with Sensei’s changes of direction and pace. This set the tone for the course with egos forgotten as we laughed at our own efforts and Sensei encouraged us to keep trying. Sensei George has a redoubtable reputation but his love of Karate and his obvious empathy with young people allowed even the most junior attendees to feel at ease and enjoy the spirited training.
The highlight of the course for most if not all, was the in depth study of Sanchin Kata. Sensei explained the origins of the kata and its fundamental relationship with nature, emphasising the importance of breathing properly as well as focusing on correct form. With Sanchin being so essential to Goju Ryu, Sensei explained how it should be practiced, taught and corrected in a manner appropriate to the student’s age, physique and level of proficiency. The kata was practiced diligently and Shime (testing) was demonstrated on Sensei Luke.
Renzuku bunkai or straight line kata or attack & defence or linear gekisai…
This Goju Ryu drill can bring the first kata ‘to life’ and provide high-speed, fighting coordination practice. Repeated individual practice and working with training partners allowed some of us to achieve mediocrity in this technique… Some attendees, with their roots in different styles or associations were less practiced than others but Sensei George promised that ‘if they didn’t know renzuku bunkai now, they would by the time they went home’. And they did.
San Dan Gi
San Dan Gi and variations were practiced as a physical and mental challenge, with Sensei pointing out the importance of building ‘Karate-specific’ fitness with this kind of drill. It was also described as a precursor to randori / Iri Kumi from a time when little or no free-sparring took place and this kind of pre-arranged drill was carried out with full power and intent. Again individual practice and partner work helped us hone the techniques (and our muscles!). Some intriguing details were shared with the class too, such as the ‘offensive’ capabilities of blocking techniques.
The wide spread of ages and grade of the attendees as well as time constraints, precluded practice of some of the more advance Kata but Gekisai dai ichi to Shisoshin were demonstrated with skill and practiced with enthusiasm.
Sensei also took time to enlighten the class with further links of various kata to nature’s five elements of fire, earth, water, air/wind and ether, describing how, for example Seiyunchin was considered an “earth” kata, with references to geological landscapes mirrored within the kata.
Sensei further applied the same ethos to students who may be physically built for certain types of kata, but should strive to achieve the same standard to all kata.
The 4 hours were soon over and all attendees (and Sensei) clearly enjoyed the training and the non-competitive but demanding ethos of the day. It was great to train with old friends and less familiar karate under an instructor of international standing, who clearly takes his Karate (but not himself) very seriously. A brilliant day and we’ll do it again.