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.
I have searched for instructions on how to hit the Makiwara and the Health and Safety issues, but have not found any information, so have I decided to give my input on my experience from the only man that knows the true way how to hit a Makiwara.
Master Morio Higaonna enjoys hitting the Makiwara more than reading a book, or eating a meal and spends as much time digesting it, I have watch him for 36 years and he only thinks of the Pursuit of Excellence and none stop reparations, I wonder if history could better this observation, as I have not seen any evidence.
People talk about history; I can only talk about what I witness, he told me that he hates not hitting the Makiwara because his Knuckles become softer.
About the Safety issues surrounding hitting a Makiwara, I stand ready to be corrected by the Medical Profession, when hitting the Makiwara you should concentrate on the first two knuckles of the hand, when hitting the Makiwara aim 70% on the index finger and 30% on the middle finger, but when you make contact you hit 50 – 50%, if you don’t you may develop problems with fluid on their knuckles.
The message from Moscow was to make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing and they were right, the temperature outside Domodedovo Airport on my arrival was -22°C and lots of snow.
I was driven to my place of stay which was about 40 minutes outside Moscow; it was called Zhukovsky, the accommodation was in the Sanatorium (houses of rest) where you can have treatment for every part of the anatomy. The surroundings were outstanding with Pine and Birch trees and an aroma to match, everywhere was covered in snow, on entering my room the temperature was a comfortable 25°C and furnishings to match.
Three meals a day were provided so you never went hungry, alcohol was not allowed. I could not sleep the first night due to the silence, and then I could not wake up due to the dark mornings, due to living in London this place was like a retreat.
...the temperature outside Domodedovo Airport on my arrival was -22°C and lots of snow.
My first teaching was at Sensei Bogdan Kurilko’s Dojo which is situated in the centre of Moscow. Training started with Black belts and then Kyu grades, Renzoku Bunkai and Self-defence dominated the training. After training I was invited to dinner, the fish supper was delicious and the vegetables were exquisite.
The next 3 days would be spent outside Moscow with the person who invited me to Moscow to conduct the Gasshuku, Sensei Pavel Klopov. The training was steered towards Kumite, Kihon (Basic), Yakasoku (Promise) and Iri – Kumi (Try Out). There were about 100 people in attendance, the Children practiced the 5 basic San Dan Gi, and the Cadets practiced Iri – Kumi, then the Black belts concentrated on the finer details in Kata. Sunday morning the Children had a PowerPoint Presentation and Q&A, the Children were very pleased with this. To conclude I was asked to conduct a grading for the Cadets.
But it was not all about Karate – Do, I visited a small but educational Aviation Museum, where I had the chance to try out my piloting skills on a flight simulator. I was s*** however the instructor commented that it takes 30 hours to get an idea.
As always when visiting Russia one must visit a Russian Banya (sauna), which is said to have many health benefits. It is fired by wood only and oak branches are tied together and immersed in fragrances and cold water, which are then beaten and rubbed against the body which generates heat and therapeutic conditions. You are then invited to step outside and ice cold water is poured over you if you can take it, I’m pleased to say I've done it twice. I have many fond memories of Moscow over the past 28 years and this was no exception.
My special thanks to the entire Russian contingent that made this trip a success.
The Cambridge dojo ran a self defence course for charity on 27th November 2012. All profits went to Cambridge Cyrenians, an organization working with the needs of homeless people.
She is on her back, lying on the ground, her legs are parted. He is kneeling over her, holding her down and trying to scratch her face. They are fighting, she is struggling, and he nearly seems to get what he wants. But then she gains the upper hand by pushing him away with her legs and at the same time bringing his arms away. Two minutes later, everyone else in the room is imitating the same simulated attack.
It’s a very chilly Tuesday evening and it’s already dark outside. Here, in a small training room on the Cambridge University Press site, a bunch of 20 people have come together, eager to learn something about self defence. For half of them this is a new experience, the other half are wearing white suits and are a bit more experienced as they are used to doing karate in this room. The difference is that in karate no-one ever simulates the situation of being raped.
Martin Stockley, who is organising and running the self defence class together with his wife Louise, explains: “On the street no-one will attack you with a straight karate punch. Possible situations where self defence might be needed are – and these are a bit stereotyped though quite true – for men, it’s being in a pub full of drunk people and a guy is trying to punch you and for women, it’s often in a sexual context, when someone is trying to grab her.”
Martin demonstrates some possible defence techniques. As you look around the room, it’s strange/funny to see 20 people trying to fight invisible opponents. Hooking themselves out of invisible arms and lunging for invisible eyes, they look as if they’ve gone crazy! Many laughs are resounding in the room.
Though this self defence class is certainly great fun and interesting for the participants, it doesn’t just help them, but also some very different people. The homeless people of Cambridge. The class is actually a charity event and all the money from the participants goes to Cambridge Cyrenians, an organization housing homeless people. Why has this class been specially run for the Cyrenians then?
At first Martin and Louise, who usually just run a karate club teaching a traditional style of karate called Goju Ryu, wanted to do a charity event, not even clear about where the profits should go. “And then we remembered of course, that one of our students works for a charity. What could be more obvious than donating to her organization!” Anika Schiller is an 18 year old girl from Germany, taking a gap year between school and university and working as a full time volunteer for the Cambridge Cyrenians.
“Cyrenians provides accommodation in the form of small shared houses”, she explains later on. “They have different projects. For example I’m working and living in one of the short-stay houses. People are often referred to us from hostels like Jimmy’s Nightshelter and share a house with about eight other residents and two volunteers.” This support, and the freedom to influence their own surroundings, is aimed to encourage the residents to take responsibility for their own lives again. Anika adds: “The work is really interesting. You get to know so many great people. They’re like you and me, but if you live with them you gradually find out the hard things they’ve had to face in their lives.”
The people at the self-defence class hope that they’ll never have to face situations in which they need the skills they are learning at the moment, but nevertheless they listen carefully to what Martin is teaching. He shows three possibilities to get rid of someone holding your arms. “So first, I have to surprise my opponent with…”, Thea, a tall girl in a sporty outfit kicks her partner on the leg, murmuring to herself “and then the arms…” She pulls her arms upwards and is a bit surprised herself when her hands are free again all of a sudden!
After the lesson everyone agrees that it was great fun. “You are not normally that close to people you don’t know and never get the chance to practise situations like that. I have to admit it didn’t feel too good, having someone bending over you and having to struggle to get away. But we have learnt some good tricks”, sums up Clive, for whom the class was something completely new. He works for Cyrenians as well. Thea agrees: “It’s quite scary pretending to be attacked, but it feels good to learn some self defence techniques and support a charity like Cyrenians at the same time.”
Written by Anika Schiller, Cambridge. The event raised £180 for charity.
I was invited by Sensei Veerappan Arumugam (Billy) Chief Instructor IOGKF Malaysia to conduct a Gasshuku in Intan, Perak (Diamond Bay). It is situated some 400 Kilometers from the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The training was for 5 hours per day with temperatures of 35°C; I requested that Sensei Billy to have made Hojo – Undo training implements readily available and to my surprise Chishi, Tetsu Sashi, Nigiri Kami and Impact Pads were produced.
This shows me that his determination and effort to want to learn about Supplementary Training is unique. I started the training with the traditional warm up and explained in detail the important points about safety and long-term avoidance of injury, then the 3 Ks, Kihon, Kata and Kumite, followed by a demonstration on how to use Hojo – Undo.
Then arranging 4 stations so everyone had the opportunity to experience Hojo – Undo training and to finish the Kata Sanchin was performed. Some of the people commented that they had never seen these apparatus before, and some have been in Martial Arts for 30 years.
There was also a presentation by Mr. Burhanuddin Bin Daud (Hilir Perak Youth and Sports Officer) after the Gasshuku had finished. I was presented with a plaque in recognition of my work, my special thanks to him for his effort in making this Gasshuku a success.
But it was not all about Karate – Do; I was taken around by car to see some of the sights. The town’s main attraction is the leaning tower of Teluk Intan, it is the equivalent to the World famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The purpose for building the tower, also known as the Clock Tower, was to store water for the locals during the drought season, in case of fire. The clock on the tower was also used to keep time and was a landmark for the Ships at sea.
The town also has a number of Colonial buildings and Chinese Shop houses, and is home to a diversity of Cultures and Religions, and not forgetting I went fishing on the Perak River which is home to a wide variety of fish and Crocodiles.
During my stay I sampled the fruit Durian (The King of Fruits), it is a large prickled fruit that smells like Gas but tasted very sweet, and I ate fish and sea food every day and drank Oolong Tea.
I would like to thank Sensei Billy and especially Chong Hai Lee for taking care of me during my stay, looking forward to Malaysia in 2013.
I received a telephone call from Sensei Mick Dewey to say that he would not be there due to bereavement in the family; we all know the feeling of losing someone we love so my heart goes out to him and his family.
It’s a special place for me the I.O.W; I have many fond memories over the past 37 years, met some wonderful people, the I.O.W is to me like stepping back in time, during the 1950 – 60’s in London, one can smell the aroma of coal fire, the array of small shops and business and family values.
The training started at 9.15 with the Children, there were about 30 kids jumping, running and chatting wait for me to arrive. Teaching Children and holding their concentration for an hour and half is no easy task, so after lining up they looked at me with caution, but once we got started and having fun they lost any apprehension they had of me.
Next it was time for the Adults, straight into a warm up and explaining details of various issues that they my encounter during training and life itself, echoing topics on the natural world which seemed to go down well, the last hour was for Black and Brown belts and the request was for Kata and Applications, so I choose Seiyunchin Kata, and after 4 hours of training the Adults looked absolutely satisfied, “for the want of a better word”.
But it was not all about Karate – Do; I was invited out on Saturday evening for a Chinese meal in the town, on entering the restaurant there was a wonderful atmosphere and warm welcome, our choice was a variety of dishes, the aroma as the dishes arrived were mouth watering.
Before long it was time to head back to the mainland however, I do love the ferry crossing.
My special thanks to Sensei Mark and his lovely wife Lisa for taking care of me over the w/end.
Sensei George Andrews
After arriving at Gdansk Airport I was met by Sensei Marian Czylkowski who is the Senior Instructor of Lebork and Wicko, accompanied Andrzej Markowski, we then made our way to Leba where I would stay for the duration of the trip, it is situated North of Poland close to the Sea with a lovely Sandy Beach, and in summer it is bustling with holiday makers.
The training started on Friday evening Sensei Marian requested open hand techniques with combinations, the class seemed to be enjoying the array of discipline being shown, on Saturday the theme was Kakei, Kata and Bunkai the day seemed to go so fast, on Sunday was group training I concentrated on corrective training in Kata with each group.
On Saturday evening I was invited by the Mayor of Wicko MA Dariusz Waleskiewicz to give a lecture to the Children and Parents of Wicko and Lebork on history of my Karate time and experience which ended with questions and answers, to my surprise the Mayor of Lebork and his wife also came to give their support.
After the weekend training finished, Sensei Marian had one to one training with me on Kata of which he was very appreciative and said he would like more of the same on my next visit. It is said that if you bump into a “Kominiarz” Chimney Sweep you will have good fortune, but first you must find a women with glasses, this is the second time I have seen a “Kominiarz” however, I’m still waiting for the good futune.
But it was not all about Karate–Do; I was privileged to be asked to lunch with the Mayor of Wicko which was quite an honour, and to my surprise I went Sea fishing and the Gods seemed to be kind to us because the Sun was shining however, I did not catch a fish but it was wonderful to be on the Sea so calm on such a beautiful day.
I also had the opportunity to visit the Amber Museum which is housed in Gdansk’s medieval Fore-gate building (once home to the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber), this multi-story exhibit delves extensively into the history of Baltic Amber. The impressive collection of “inclusions” (when bugs or plants are caught inside the amber) is intriguing to look at. Before long it was time to pack my suitcase and heard for the airport. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mayor of Wicko MA Dariusz Waleskiewicz for his time and effort in giving an opportunity for the families of Lebork and Wicko to an insight to Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate–Do.