EGKA Spring Gasshuku 2023

Comfortably uncomfortable.

Two words that I’ve come to recognise as a warning for future and imminent pain. So, the Thursday before this Gasshuku I ended up on a treadmill. Now, yes, I am a fan of running, but more at a time when I can’t do the “right” sort of training. OK, so there is a lot in that sentence, basically I’m not built for speed, and so I will gravitate to, well pretty much anything over running quickly. Point me in a direction and I’ll run for hours, but at my speed. Slow.

Why am I telling you this? So, Thursday before the Gasshuku I find myself in the gym at work and deciding on a 60 minute treadmill trot. I didn’t choose wisely. 60 minute interval endurance, I distinctly remember saying “£uck it” and pressing the start button. I was doing a class and following the cadence and incline instructions. Even the warm up wasn’t a warm up really, then the instructor started to lay it on about how we all needed to “lean in”, words that really mean you are going to feel like you are sucking air through a straw as your chest decides to pop out of your heaving chest. I survived but my legs were shot.

The following day, the Gasshuku started. Now Friday nights can go either way, you can be all focused on Sanchin and training in that way, or it can go the other way and that’s what happened. Sensei Ernie set off at a pace and my legs were horrified. We covered a load of kihon and then worked with a partner, the focus landing on speed of movement (Sensei Ernie doesn’t really do slow) multiple blocks and culminating in a series of kicks or takedowns. There was little time for thinking. Getting stuck in, my face quickly went to red and at the cold (it was freezing outside) was quickly ousted from met bones. Then we had to jump into “pairs of three”. One person did Kata x 2 and the remaining pair kumite. At this point my legs had lodged a grievance against me and were on strike. I had no access to power, movement or control over them. I was basically moving like a drunk penguin and that’s being generous.

There was more fun to follow. London is gifted with a wonderful public transport system. When it works for you. My little group were returned to the nearest station and we waited a while for our train to arrive. Now it should be pointed out that one of our group was a very welcome visitor and she mentioned that we needed to change trains to get us home. Over confidence led us to not really hear this and so we boarded our train in the belief that it would take us home. It did not. No, in fact, we were in fact hurtling towards central London. Bundling ourselves of the train we, at the next station learned our next option would take 15 minutes to arrive and it was more than 15 minutes home. Uber it was. (Other point to point rides are available). More disaster was to befall us however, now at this point, I was shattered, my legs in full revolt and my shower/couch/bed comfort only a few short corners away. As we neared the house I started to notice that all the, now many pedestrians were wearing very similar scarfs… the pubs had legions of people outside of them. Bugger, there was a match in Crystal Palace the stadium by our house. The 3 minute journey became 20.

Saturday began early with a dash across south London to support Sensei Linda and Sensei Ernie with the kids section of the Gasshuku. I have to say the energy in the dojo was electric with the kids going through their paces for the upcoming EGKA competition season.

By the time we got back to the main venue, the adults were gathering and it became obvious that the theme of the day was bunkai and kumite. What followed was a day of pure heaven in my book, my legs were still not happy to be put under pressure but I was learning loads and it was fun! By Sunday morning my legs had started to come back to me and I felt much more able than I had for the few days before. My confidence was to last only a short while. By the time we stood with Sensei Peter we were to focus on interval training also. Loads of running followed. OK so not loads of running but the sort of short sprints that we earlier learned I’m not suited to, and also, these were not time bound. I had no idea how long we were to do shuttle runs (moan). At one point Sensei decided to go and speak to one group and we were left running up and down, heaps of punches, up and down… my legs went into a full revolt. None of this was agreed in advance. Jokes aside, this was a great session and a contender for one of my favourite sessions of the weekend.

One of the things that always impresses me is the attendance of kyu grades at these events. Not an easy thing to do really, to walk into a room full of black belts who, on the face of it look like they know exactly what they are doing. The truth is of course, at least in my case, far from the truth, but it must seem that way to a kyu grade on arrival. So, a huge hats off to all kyu grades who came along!

By the time we all sat for the final bow, the weekend had, like all good weekends flown. My legs certainly were able to tell the story! By the time I said goodbye to everyone and battled the traffic home, it was just time for takeout, to get the rugby on and then crash on the couch!

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