To hear Soshi’s announcement that the focus of this Gasshuku was rigorous training was a clear indication that we were in for some seriously hard training. Soshi was obviously making up for the last minute cancellation of the previous Gasshuku thanks to Qantas.
The weekend Gasshuku are never a walk in the park. In fact they are a gruelling test of endurance and stamina that leave you battered, bruised and exhausted. Just my kind of Karate weekend!
I arrived at Tocal half an hour early to find Soshi and Renshi in the Dojo just about to begin. I think I was in my training Gi and lining up beside them before the car had come to a stop. And true to form, Soshi took us through an intense first session with two and a half hours of wall work, Kihon and line Kata, executing literally thousands of punches and kicks.
The aim of the Gasshuku quickly became apparent. Speed is developed through repetition. Regular repetition. The rule of thumb given was that each of our training sessions are to include at least 1,000 kicks and 1,000 punches. Put another way, 500,000 kicks and punches each year.
The session concluded with a run through of the Heian Kata and a few Bunkai before we cranked up the BBQ and ate.
The morning session started with Zuki and Geri in all sorts of Kihon; Kihon-Yon-Dosa, Kihon-Uke-Kame-Ni and San, Tai-Sabaki, etc. The training regime was pretty simple but very effective. We’d rattle off a few rounds of which ever technique at the wall, focussing on speed and distance. Then we’d take the technique into a Kihon exercise and perform it in all directions focussing on speed, foot work and agility. For example, double Gyaku-Zuki in Kihon-Uke-Kame-San was done with the left leg leading first, stepping forward on the turns. As we progressed through the repetitions, we changed the lead leg as well as our direction of movement on the turns. This was followed up with some bag work before going back to the wall for the final few rounds.
The second half of the session was devoted to Heian Nidan. Soshi took a few of the key moves and techniques out of the Kata and we worked on each of those in the various Kihon exercises before pairing up and making sure the Bunkai worked.
The mid session was all about bag work and Zuki. We started with the usual one-on-one single punch exercises and quickly ramped up the intensity with adding an additional bag, multiple opponents, multiple techniques and many, many repetitions. I think Soshi was just reminding us that the focus was rigorous training.
The afternoon session followed the same pattern as the morning session, beginning with Zuki and Geri followed by the dissection of Heian Sandan. We mainly focussed on the Bunkai for this Kata, particularly on the final move and the 4th-5th move.
It was dark when the session ended so we washed up and headed to the Largs pub for a feed and a few beers.
The 8:30am start was helped a little with the end of Daylight Savings but by now I was starting to feel the effects of the weekend taking its toll. The body had to hold it together for the next 5 hours though as Soshi took us through another session of Zuki and Geri on the wall, in Kihon and Line Kata. The second half of the session was all about Heian Yondan and, as with the other Kata, Soshi broke this up and we ran through all the Kihon exercises before spending a lot of time on Bunkai
Session two for Sunday was a continuation of Heian Yondan and we looked at the Bunkai for all the techniques in the Kata. However, time was against us and it was 1pm before we knew it. After a bite to eat we headed home.