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.
It was a very good Gasshuku according to the feedback I received, the challenge this year was to complete 2500 Push ups, Sit ups, Leg squats and Samui Star jumps, which was required in the morning training after a warm up and 45 minutes of intense Pad work, 180 of the above mentioned. The same was required in the evening training after the completion of technical and methodology training, Kata and Bunkai; everyone was feeling the apprehension about completing this mammoth task over the week.
However, by Thursday evening everyone was eager to complete the programme and some even did more. I’m pleased to report that some people lost 5 kilos. This Gasshuku is limited to 30 people and on this occasion there were 22 people, including contingents from Vietnam, Denmark, Germany, Malaysia, Thailand and England.
After each morning session, there were lectures on Physiology and Anatomy, Nutrition, History of Karate-do, Criminology and Prevention of injury.
At the end of the Gasshuku I was approached by Sensei Geoff's wife, Aell and we had a meeting about future Gasshuku in Samui Dojo Resort. It was quite emotional and she said that she will close the Dojo after we finish, because she wants to create more rooms to rent, we were both very sad, but I said no problem you must do what is best for the future of your family.
You may remember when the Marble Factory Dojo was destroyed by fire I just thought that it is time to move on, and the same with the Institute, and now I must move on again, so I’m pleased to pronounce that I have found a place which is a Muay Thai Gym. It is fully equipped with showers and toilets and they are very happy to accommodate us.
I have confirmed the dates with them and this will be 20th – 26th March 2017, I will send all details out soon. Looking forward to seeing you all again on the Gasshuku in Paradise, Koh Samui, Thailand.
San dan gi number one and number two are part of the IOGKF curriculum. The remaining exercises have been developed by Sensei George Andrews to prepare the body for the demands of kata. These drills provide a system to practice basic offensive and defensive techniques while moving through the stances utilised in kata.
Start with right leg back in Sanchin Dachi, blocking left Chudan Uke – Chudan Kamae. The basic pattern incorporates three steps forward followed by three steps backwards, but to develop both sides of the body the pattern should be repeated, i.e. moving forward six steps before moving backwards.
San Dan Gi One to Five focus on Sanchin Dachi, Shiko Dachi and Zen Kutsu Dachi. These drills can very easily be incorporated into a two person drill. San Dan Gi Six to Ten focus on development of Neko Ashi Dachi. This second set of drills can also be performed as a two person exercise with the attacker moving in a straight line and the defender moving very quickly across to the line of attack
Chief Instructor OTGKA