This year was the second year in a row I didn't make it to the Gasshuku, a weekend at the Crown Hotel, Wetheral, packed with fun and training in the wonderful art of traditional karate and functional fitness. I'm saving my pennies for our trip to Okinawa next year, as are a few more of the usual Gasshuku attendees. It meant there was a higher percentage than usual of attendees new to karate and new to the Gasshuku. So I thought that I'd asked them what they liked, what they'd learned or what had nearly killed them :-)
Our newest member and "Gasshuku virgin" Emma, said...
"I loved it! All of it! I thought the Bunkai session on the Friday was really useful for thinking outside the box. How to apply the various forms in different ways. The Iaido session on the Saturday was brilliant. and I really hope there is a way to add onto that at some point in the future. I was mind blown by the Naihanchi Kata practice on Sunday. Having only very limited experience of the Kata (as yet), it was interesting to learn about the different styles. I was inspired and humbled by the weekend and will definitely be putting my name down for next year. It was an amazing weekend of learning and growing with a wonderful group of people, who were all there to share their experiences. A absolute honour to be able to take part."
Sophie, a more experienced karate-ka, but new to the Gasshuku said...
"I loved using the chi-ishi and the bokken, but Jenny's fitness session and Enduro-Strike class actually nearly killed me!"
Sophie was there with her older brother, Lewis, a brown belt and member of Chris's closed dojo. His thoughts on the weekend reflect how I felt myself after my first time a few years ago...
"I spent an awesome weekend at the E.S.K.K annual gusshaku, where we covered a whole range of excellent lessons from traditional karate and kata bunkai, yoga, kettlebells, Japanese sword, taiji plus many more. The weekend wasn't easy by a long shot, but we all stuck in and got through it by helping and supporting each other. I want to thank everyone for all the laughs and good times we had - I've already booked leave off work for next year, can't wait!!!"
The hard work and intensive training is always balanced by fantastic camaraderie, support and great fun. Here's a quote from Terry, one of our more regular Gasshuku attendees:
"I just got back from another two nights at the excellent Crown hotel in Wetheral along with fifteen other members of E.S.K.K karate and fitness. Probably covered the best part of 24 hours study. Some mental and lot's physical - Excellent!"
Finally, a quote from our very own Peter Hinde (pictured above with Sensei Chris Denwood after a gruelling kettlebell session) who as usual, was kind and dedicated enough to organise the event. I think this just about says it all...
"So I've just came back from our ninth awesome E.S.K.K training Summer camp, with 15 fantastic Karate enthusiasts, we worked extremely hard, we all have some bumps and bruises and aching limbs. The teaching was outstanding, as can be expected from the E.S.K.K, everyone put in over 100%, those who were our first timers were fantastic, crumbs we sweated buckets, but what a laugh we had too. Of course we missed our friends who couldn't attend this year - I can't wait to see and train with you again. It has to be said that every single one of you is my inspiration. So thank you for a wonderful weekend."
A big thanks to all those who supported the event this year and to Peter for his impeccable organisational skills. Thanks also to Sensei Chris Denwood and all those who took part, gave their expertise or just helped with the logistics. Next year will be the 10th anniversary Gasshuku and it may have a little extra packed in so watch this space and book yourself a place as soon as you can!