We opened our doors tonight to friends of our students and many of our colleagues took the opportunity to learn some valuable self defence skills. With nearly 30 people supporting the event we had a full dojo. All class fees will be donated to charity and this year we have chosen the Health Exchange Nepal Earthquake Fund (see link below). After a good work out, possibly more physical than some had expected, we relaxed in the bar next door with delicious pizza from Cherry Box. Thank you to everyone for making the event a success!
Following a successful grading in May we held another grading tonight for the next group of students ready to move on to their next belts. Accompanying the six grading candidates were another six students training which helped make a great atmosphere in the dojo. Mattia passed to his orange belt and both Nick and Holly earned a blue belt pass. Catherine and Martin progressed to 5th kyu purple and Deirdre graded to 4th kyu. It'll not be long before we have a set of students, Xorge, Ioannis, Lewis and Deirdre, standing up to grade to brown belt. Well done to all the successful candidates!
One of the great benefits of being members of the IOGKF is having the opportunity to travel to foreign lands and train with a variety of world class instructors. This year was the 30th annual European gasshuku, which was held in Malaga in the South of Spain. Training started every day at 9am for senior black belts and this year Louise and I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd dan and above session on the Monday morning. The regular training began at 10am for all grades and we were joined this year by Holly, one of our green belt (7th kyu) students. In total, there were about 300 students training daily, smaller than in previous years, but the energy in the training hall was as high as usual. The outside temperature was in the high 30s and may have been higher still inside with no air conditioning to take away the heat of hard training.
Every day started with junbi undo exercises, led by one of the senior instructors and then we would split into our individual groups based on grade. The sandan group numbered 40-50 students. We trained as a group for 2 or 3 sessions with different instructors covering many aspects of goju ryu including many repetitions of basic techniques (with Kokubo Sensei), moving basics (Sensei George Andrews and Bakkies Sensei), detail of kaishu kata, such as Seiyunchin, Sanseru, Kururunfa (several instructors) and the heishu kata Sanchin and Tensho (Masuyama Sensei and Sensei Roy Flatt).
Training finished each day at about 2pm and after a short taxi ride back to our hotel for a much needed shower, we would often join Sensei George for a delicious ice cream from one of the many vendors in Malaga. We also took the opportunity to absorb some of the culture with a visit to the Picasso Museum (with an exceptional exhibition of Louise Bourgeois artwork) and the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress.
Next year we plan to attend the world budosai in Okinawa, but before then, we have short trip to Brussels for a mini-gasshuku in October.