What is a gasshuku

Grading students being put through their basics by Chief Instructor Arnold de Beer (8th Dan)

There are two gasshukus a year: a winter one, held in England; and a summer one, held anywhere where there is a GKI club – recently Sweden, Belgium and Portugal and, in 2013, in Weymouth. Summer gasshukus are generally held over 4 days, training for half of each day. Winter gasshukus tends to be over fewer, but longer days of training.

Everyone, from white belt upwards, is welcome and encouraged to take part in the gasshukus. They are a great opportunity to meet and train with students and instructors from all over Europe, and to be trained by Shihan Arnold de Beer and/or Shihan James Rousseau, both 8th dans and the highest instructors in the GKI association.

During training you will be put through your basics, katas, ipon kumite etc.. You’ll train as a whole group as well as be split into grades to concentrate on areas relevant to your level. You’ll go over things you know well, as well as learn new moves, katas, counters etc. And luckily for us English speakers, the majority of training is done in English with interpreters for the non-English speakers, and where an instructor is not so fluent in English, then someone will interpret for us; either way, key instructions are always given in the Japanese as in our normal classes. You’ll also find that most of the international students are awesomely at ease with the English language so communicating is seldom a problem. If you are grading for a black belt, all instruction is given in English/Japanese – the grading panel is generally the same whether you grade in summer or winter.

The climax of all gasshukus is the Sayonara (Farewell) Party, during which there is usually food, and a mix of  entertainment, dancing, karaoke and, of course, the results of the black belt gradings and is a great way to let of steam after all the vigorous training.

You always learn new tricks, meet new friends, and have a cracking party to round off the event.