This was to be the first official European Gasshuku for the IOGKF, the course was over a two week period, Yudansha (black belts) for the first week, and All Grades for the second week.
The organiser was Sensei James Rousseau who was European Chief Instructor at that time. Sensei Morio Higaonna, Sensei Teruo Chinen and Sensei James Rousseau, were the Instructors on the gasshuku. I was a 2nd Dan in Okinawan Goju-ryu at that time, and was very excited to be training with such high-ranking Okinawan Goju Ryu Sensei's.
Higaonna Sensei was accompanied by one of his student's from Japan, his name was Tomouki Kato who was 3rd Dan and a very good Kata man. Higaonna Sensei told me to take care of him, as he doesn't speak any English, I bowed and sensei left, the thing is I didn't speak Japanese. Still I was honoured to be asked, so we had to communicate with body language. People would ask, "how do you understand each other"?, but we managed to get on.
Because the Gasshuku was in England, it seemed to be a good idea to arrange to visit a traditional medieval banquet in Beaulieu House. During the evening Higaonna Sensei looked like he was enjoying himself, especially when it came to the dancing. I thought I could 'strut my stuff' but Higaonna Sensei made up his own variation of Tensho Kata and Neko Ashi movements much to the amusement of all present. I moved back to let the master show how it's done, not only in the Dojo, but also on the dance floor he proved that he is the Master.
Training at that time was very stringent, because we needed it, lots of corrective training over and over again, from Gekisai Dai ichi to Sanseru, and Sanchin Kata. I remember Higaonna Sensei allowed all the seniors of their countries to spar with him, and I was one of the 'lucky ones' to come face to face with the Master. I wasn't on my feet for long, all I remember was spinning in the air and landing on the floor with Higaonna Sensei's foot at the back of my neck. It happened so quickly that I thought someone must have hit me from behind!
When he came up against Brames from South Africa who was a full contact fighter and stood nearly 6' 2'', Higaonna Sensei took up Neko-Ashi Dachi (cat foot stance) then as the big man lunged forward, Higaonna Sensei executed a very swift Kin Geri (groin kick), which stopped the big man in his tracks. Higaonna Sensei was very apologetic, and stood there saying to him self he must learn to control that kick, I think everybody's eyes were watering at that point. The contingent from South Africa was very strong, one other person present was my very dear friend Sensei Bakkies Laubscher, some of them were in the famous South African Springbok Rugby Team. There was also representation from Portugal, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Scotland.
It was a wonderful Gasshuku because everybody had a community spirit, and was eager to learn, with a thirst for knowledge that made everyone feel equal. There is lots more to tell, but I just wanted you to share some of the memories with me.