21st IOGKF European Gasshuku in Espinho, Portugal 2002
Once again I pack my suitcase and make my way to the airport. This time it’s Espinho right on the Atlantic Ocean, which is quite windy at night, so if you visit there make sure that you take a coat. Day time temperatures are a stunning 30c, with a light breeze, plenty of fish and white wine to eat and drink when you relax in the evenings. There are also the wine caves in which you can test your palate with some wonderful Ports.
We decided to walk to the registration for a bit of exercise, little did we know that 45 mins later we would still be looking for the place! However, after several attempts of going down the same street we found it and as we entered we were greeted by the Portuguese contingent that organised the GASSHUKU. After the registration, YES you guess it, we called a taxi which took only 10 mins to get back to the hotel. The next morning we got up at 6.45am, had breakfast and made our way to the coach that would take us to the dojo, I was excited of the thought of seeing Higaonna Sensei again and to train with all the Chief Instructors of the western hemisphere.
The training would continue for the next 7 days. Every morning it was quite cool with a mist, which made you think that you were in London, judging by the weather!
After the introductions we lined up and it was time to train. Higaonna Sensei started the training with Sanchin kata and explanations on breathing and posture. It is such an inspiration to see the Master create a sense of willingness and harmony through moving meditation.
After 2 hours, we were joined by all the black belts, (I counted about 170) and the training started with the words from Higaonna Sensei “Are You Ready?”, then the traditional warm up started.
Within the next 3 hours some of the cobwebs that people had acquired started to vanish and there was a sense of fulfilment after the final command “YAME”.
Late morning was the turn of kyu grades, It was just like a swarm of honey bees as they entered the dojo, as by now there were 400 karateka assembling for instructions from the Master.
This was a memorable Gasshuku that was very well organise, with lots of good ideas for the future. The staff were very professional and friendly and I’m sure that we all agree that a special thank must be given to the Chief Instructor of Portugal, Sensei George Monterio 6th Dan IOGKF and his very patient assistant Christina.