More than a gasshuku report

So it’s a week since I went to Finland for the gasshuku in Tyrnävä. I’ve never been that far north in my life and it once again, on a Friday, I was in an airport. Nothing makes me happier than to be heading somewhere, and with the end of the year looming it’s a good time to be taking stock. I had travelled with my laptop so that I could try and capture some of the feelings that I was having, but in truth it was to watch some movies. The thing was, I forgot to download anything and so by the time I arrived to the airport I didn’t have enough time to actually download anything decent. Just as well I had the entire Game of Thrones saved. I’ve started the first season about 4 times but never made it beyond the first say 5 episodes.

Now I’m not a super duper Dan grade or anything so to be going so far to actually do what I love doing was a gift. 🎁

Which of course meant that I needed to plan what I was going to focus on for the weekend so that I was going to give people something meaningful to take away from the gasshuku. I knew little about the levels of the people I would work with and so I was more or less blind. Not nerve wrecking at all.

Now I had the experience of teaching in Australia and other gasshukus so I had faith in myself to manage the situation but for me it’s important to give something…unusual. To inspire.

I’ve said more than once that I’ve never been to a gasshuku in the UK where Sensei Steve Cattle was not mentioned. Even in Goju-Ryu. He was so inspirational, after a gasshuku with him you felt that you could jump over houses. Honestly it was incredible. We trained in the Lee Maltings which was an old building part of the University College Cork (Ireland) and to say it was basic is putting it lightly. But if that room could talk… if there was nothing else I could wish for, I wanted those who trained with me to at least be a wee bit inspired.


If there was one thing I could say about the weekend it was that I was in fact the one inspired. Beyond what I expected. I’d left work on the Thursday after a hectic week, I’d come home from Canada on the Monday and here again I was on the road.

The welcome I had from the moment I set foot in Finland was incredible. The first thing I will say is that I felt at home, we went first to the Senseis house and we had dinner. This made the weekend feel special, Karate is all about life, about family and about training being part of life and so this felt like a good place to start. I could feel the focus on training and support in the house and it felt like home.

As mentioned earlier, I’m not a super duper Dan grade or anything, so when people started treating me like a “proper” Sensei, I felt like an imposter. When I travel with my Sensei I am careful to ensure she has tea and water etc… but actually in Finland, these things felt “natural”. When we had a break…coffee “appeared”… apparently Finland is the biggest consumer of coffee… but that is probably due to the fact that the light lasted 5 hours in total…daily.

So this isn’t a review of the gasshuku and everything that I taught… actually I came away more inspired myself. Here were people who lived in temperatures that basically tried to kill you, but they chose to be there and more than that, they made a life. We all have “challenges” in life. Here’s my thing, most of us are lazy. We are, and we need to admit it. I make excuses about not training as much as I should on a daily basis. I have no excuses…

I came home so focused on where I need to work, thank you Finland… you really made me think… I’ve been slacking and I really have no excuses! Thank you Finland, you have made me think… a lot!

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