Tooting Gasshuku weekend…a quiet one… (not)

I was late leaving the office on Friday. I should also say that we finish at 4pm on a Friday and well, it’s like a secret whistle goes off bang on the strike of 4 bells and everyone is off to their respective weekends. This Friday, I was one of 3 folks working away, so intently that the lights, sensing no movement, turned themselves off!

The day had been a busy one, lots of HR issues to sort out and inevitably by 2pm people were starting to ask about weekend plans and getaways. Now a few years ago this weekend was a huge one for me. I was to meet with the Chairman of the company I now work for for the ‘final’ interview after which, I was going to head to the Tooting Dojo for the annual February gasshuku. The interview took place in Wimbledon which is, by coincidence just up the road from the dojo.

So when everyone was talking about their weekend and I talked about a weekend of training, I got a fair few blank mystified looks. Which to be honest I’m more than used to, but then I’m with Higaonna Sensei when he says, ‘if you training you understand, if you don’t train, you don’t understand’.

A few hours later as I lined up Sensei Linda took us through her theme for the weekend, Fudoshin, Zanchin and Muchin. I was hit ball a wall of nostalgia. I remembered Sensei Kase talking about these way back and as Sensei Linda encouraged us to seek these states during the weekend, I was taken back to a gasshuku in Scotland maybe 20 years ago! The memories!! I knew these focus areas as the Spirits of budo, and if memory served, there are 5 in total… there is much written about these as a pathway to enlightenment and  probably the ability to levitate… which I won’t get into just now…

Shoshin: (初心) Beginners’ Mind

Zanshin: (残心) Lingering Mind

Mushin: (無心) No Mind

Fudoshin: (不動心) Immovable Mind

Senshin (先心) Purified spirit; Enlightened Attitude

I’ve been a fan of the ‘beginners mind’ ethos for a long time, in fact it was a theme that was quite central to my training in Shotokan for many years. But the focus this weekend was Zanchin, Muchin and Fudoshin! 

We worked on various training points over the weekend, the challenge, to find some of the budo spirits that Sensei had outlined. These weekend gasshukus are challenging, no doubt, initially physical in nature, then of course there is the mental aspect. The physicality of the weekend was immense, there was little time for coasting and just as soon as one level was reached, the focus shifted and yet another body part was tested.  By the time we sat in seiza on Saturday night, I couldn’t tell you my name, my arms were dead and I had multiple bruises… but I was buzzing. I managed to stay awake long enough to support the Irish thumping the French (sorry Mathlide) before collapsing into my bed and that was that. IMG_4399

Sunday was no different, albeit I now had the physicality of Friday and Saturday to contend with! I have no idea what happened to the weekend. In a blink it was over, I had tried to clutch at moments as they shot past, to find everything from beginners mind, to pushing myself to find an unshakeable mind and so on… and then to just get on with it and do the training. It was great to have a focus for the weekend, but to be honest I need to invest more time in each area… I am not sure that I can move much beyond the beginners mind though…

Thank you, as always to Sensei Linda for putting a great weekend together! I loved every minute of it! Thank you also to our visitors who travelled to the dojo, it was great to feel the energy from everyone!

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