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2009 Gasshuku Review & Honours

By Admin - Posted on 17 July 2009

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Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun!!!

The wettest, most miserable weekend since records began? As Louis Armstrong once famously sang “I don’t care what the weatherman says, when the weatherman says it’s raining he’s talking absolute rubbish” (sorry, Louis –ed).  I digress, but could the threat of a biblical deluge dampen spirits at this year’s summer training camp?

The ’09 Gasshuku was the first to be held solely between Seitou Ryu and Kaizen Ryu; two clubs that share massive mutual respect and whose instructors and students get along so well observers would assume it was one organisation. As the coach loads of eager karateka disembarked you could sense palpable waves of nervous tension. They all signed up for an intense 9 ½ hours of training over the two day event but how many of them were looking forward to that after a 5am start and a long coach journey? News was spreading that Sensei Indy and Sensei Marie were going to take the first seminar. Sensei Indy only had two cups of coffee that morning and is world renowned for being “a grumpy bugger” in the morning. How much torture would everyone have to endure if Sensei Marie couldn’t keep him from becoming a bit “grumpy”? Would Sensei Richard be able to stop the “grumpiness” in time?

There was no need to worry as the first 3 hour seminar flew by without a single student keeling over from exhaustion. Covering Goju kihon and kata there was masses of information for all grades. Plus there was extra motivation for everyone as there was the barbecue lunch to look forward to straight after class. Burgers, breakfast of champions!

After lunch it was time to hit the pool. Some tried to hold an impromptu game of water polo. A general lack of coordination put a stop to that and the students were quite happy to splash about. Everyone gelled together and it was hard to believe that only half of the first day had past since so much had been done.

After dinner, Sensei Richard taught an excellent seminar on Shotokan principles, focussing on kumite techniques. Again, there was a stack of details for all the students regardless of grade. It was a fun, fast paced session that involved using different partners so students could really get a feel for how different bodies work. A stroke of pure genius was Sensei Richard’s “Rumble” game at the end of the class; who would have thought grabbing someone’s tag would have been so challenging (or rewarding)? Could “Rumble” be the future of all karate? I would like to think so.

The seniors then got the younger kids to bed with a military style lights out manoeuvre so everyone could be fresh for the next day. Everyone, that is, apart from the cabin with the teenage boys in it. They were, unfortunately, next to the marquee the adults had commandeered for their evening of bad jokes and chatting. One of the boys said in the morning “It didn’t make a difference so we just left the window open in the end; the noise you guys made was THAT bad!”. The boys’ sleep was a sacrifice the adults were willing to make and I’d like to stress that no kids were harmed in the process of the Senseis’ appalling jokes.

After breakfast, the Dan grades had a special session just for them whilst the rest of the students were taken through a class of their own. The details of the Black Belt seminar are a closely guarded secret but I am assured that they did do some advanced karate and didn’t just chill out for two hours.

As I write this I am painfully aware that meals featuring quite heavily. There is a good point to this. Every time there seemed to be a break in proceedings, the campsite staff would fill the hiatus with food. I have never been at a karate camp where I left fatter than when I arrived. So, after lunch, the students settled in for the grading session. Conditions were hot, demands were tough and the assessment panel was as strict as ever. All of those who past will know that their test was hard and their new grade is a reflection of the work they and their instructors had put in to getting them there.

All performances were notable and included four students who were so advanced that they double-graded over their peers. The stand-out display of technique, grit and determination was Matthew Roud, who passed his Shodan after four brutal rounds of kumite at the end of the grading.

Events like the Gasshuku bring students together from different backgrounds and distant dojos. The aim of the senior instructors is to get all grades and ages together so that they can find some inspiration for their future training. Whether it’s the man who graded to black belt in front of you, or the kids who performed with maturity and effort it puts adults to shame, or even the person next to them in the line all the students can be proud of what they achieved this weekend. More importantly, they all had fun, worked hard and made new friends. The lower grades followed the example shown by the Dan grades, they arrived as students and left as karateka. Wettest weekend since records began? Who cares? We do karate!

Written by

Apolonius Newton-Boon III

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