The first time that I went to Denmark with IOGKF was with Sensei Linda who was teaching there many years ago. We were spread in various lodging locations around Nykobing Falster and I remember it being very very cold. On that occasion, we spent little time in Copenhagen making the scurry down south after hastily arriving mere minutes earlier. Such was the warmth of the welcome that the Danish Gasshuku quickly became a staple in my yearly calendar. Helpfully the adult gasshuku starts after the children’s course and I remember distinctly the first time I arrived to the training hall. I was blown away by the sheer amount of children all training at the same time. My companions and I arrived there a bit later than Sensei Linda who was only discernible by her voice from a gaggle of kids. My dear friend Mathilde came with us that time but forgot to pack her phone charger…I mentioned we were spread around Nykobing and so I had no way of helping. She barely made Sunday training, stomping through the car park with her hair going in all directions yet still managing to look stunning!
Such is the nature of Gasshuku travel that there are often situations that in normal life would never occur. Many years ago with a Shotokan Sensei, I ended up finding myself waiting for another Sensei to arrive at a European airport and drinking with a well-known family with what could be described as a less than “legal” background. Much like the family in a well-known trilogy of a Sicilian family. I swore never to retell the stories shared. Apparently, a link had formed with our drinking friends when children started training with my Sensei at the time…so strong that they insisted on getting the entire bill…for all 7 of us.
This weekend, we have managed to build some “touristing” time into the schedule and will spend the friday evening in Copenhagen. I don’t know how many trips I have undertaken where little was seen of the destination other than the airport, train and training hall. Lets face it, very rarely are training halls in the “cool” areas of town. One such example was visiting my old Shotokan Hombu Dojo in a Belgian town called Hasselt. Right in the Flemish-speaking area, for years I arrived at the train station to be collected and delivered to the dojo where I would train and sleep.
On one occasion, at the memorial Gasshuku after Sensei Kase passed I was unable to secure a place in the dojo and so took a room in a hotel right in the centre of town. A large contingent from Scotland and England was also in attendance and we decided on a plan for our first evening in town. Once we arrived at the agreed restaurant I received a message saying that a member of our group had become lost and returned to the hotel. Returning to collect him, I immediately felt small of stature. The foyer of this quiet hotel had in an hour… transformed. Not only that, I spotted 8 or 10 photographers all milling around. A newly erected banner suggested the reason for their presence. Miss Limburg. A bloody beauty pageant.
Statuesque women were now arriving and generating huge amounts of noise as they greeted each other with squeals and much air kissing. Oh and the posing… I forgot to mention that all this coincided with the Hasselt Beer Festival. The town square was transformed into a huge series of stalls where local brewers would present their beers and ciders at a ridiculously cheap price. Anyway, now that I had our final team member I returned us to the restaurant. On arrival, my charge announced that not only was the town about to open the beer festival but Miss Limburg was being hosted in our hotel. I’ve never seen so many men ( I was the only woman in the group) decide on a venue so quickly. Yup, the younger ones scarpered back to the hotel…🤣🙄 The more sensible of us headed to the square sampled some beers and then scarpered to the hotel.
The Gasshuku in Nykobing Falster is always one that starts at about 2pm and runs to about 7pm, at which point there is generally a scramble for food because for some unknown reason, the entire place shuts down ridiculously early. At least that’s what my London experience tells me. The downside for those receiving us is that the small army descending on a given restaurant is usually ravenous and well able to literally eat an elephant. The training was, of course, excellent and by the time we were on our way for food… well I was more than capable of eating!
Kata and bunk seemed to be the focus of the Gasshuku and so we were treated to a range of insights from a panel of instructors. I have to say a huge “Thank you” to all those who translated for us and helped us during this gasshuku, honestly, the welcome in Denmark is awesome!
Sunday started at 9am, barely enough time to get the required levels of coffee on board before training. I literally don’t know where the time goes on these Gasshukus as before long it was the final group session, a “burnout” which left everyone with hearts racing and a fair amount of sweat! What followed was a lovely lift back to Copenhagen airport and plenty of time to reflect on the weekend and write up some notes! Always a sign of a good weekend… sitting and going through each session and reflecting on what was learned.
It was, as expected, a great gasshuku and a lovely break in Cophenhagen!