Gasshuku in Loutraki
Report on the Gasshuku in the Sport Camp in Loutraki, Athens, 3.-5.6.2005
Written by Mario Sammarco, Germany
Rüdiger Kunst, Shihan Pascal Petrella and I travelled by plane from Zürich via Milan to Athens. The departure to Milan was 7 a.m. friday morning and from Milan to Athens at noon.
At the Athens airport we waited till Gerhard Scheuriker arrived, and then took our rental car and drove the Sport Camp in Loutraki. After 80 min drive we arrived on time to join the first training session with Shihan Dirk Heene. First, we practised Tsukis with different steps (Yori-, Zugi-, Kae-ashi), then into different directions using either Tai Sabaki or Okuri-Ashi. Finally, we added Tai Sabaki Gyaku-Uraken techniques to end off the exercise. Every part of the exercise was practised with one or two partners. After 1.5 hours the training was finished, and so were we. Dinner and a night cap at the kiosk, and off to bed.
The following morning after a heavy breakfast we started the training with Shihan Velibor Dimitrijevic in 30ü C. During three hours training (2 x 1.5 h from 11.00 till 14.30) he focused on the basics, especially on Fudo-Dachi, rooting with the floor, various breathing techniques, and pushing the hips forward (to tilt forward the abdomen, pelvis and gluteal muscles). We were supposed to put these basics into practise during the introductory exercises (e.g. isometric exercises), then with the hand techniques and finally with the Gyaku-Uraken combinations individually or with one or two partners. Lastly, we were supposed to be aware of these aspects during the long combination of nine leg techniques which caused some difficulties to some of us! The training was interrupted for a short while in order to greet Mrs Kase and Sachiko, Shihan Kase's daughter. Mrs Kase gave an emotional and touching speech. She thanked Shihankai for its support and its effort to guard, to safeguard and to carry on the life-work of Shihan Kase. Mrs Kase and her daughter watched the training till we finished. Afterwards the karatekas of the different nationalities introduced themselves: Belgium, Germany, England, France, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and South Africa.
At the end of the day, there was only one goal, to drink, to drink a lot, and to drink again andalso to eat. However, first of all we needed to take a shower and to hang the wet clothes on the clothesline directly in the sun (what a luxury!).
Group photo with Mrs Kase and Sachiko
Gerhard and Shihan Mario replenishing
At 6 p.m. everybody was invited to the assembly of the Instructor Academy of the Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha, where Mrs Kase and Sachiko were present as well. Shihan Dirk gave us a review of the development process so far, covering the period of time both before and after the death of Shihan Kase, and of the future plans. Afterwards the Shihankai indulged us with a Q & A session.
At the end Shihan Dirk thanked the Shihankai for the good collaboration during the past Shihankai meetings.
The Portuguese and Spanish groups...
... Finish, German, Israeli, Scottish, Belgian, Portugese instructors
The evening started with a dinner, and later winded up at the kiosk by the 'pool' (sport bath) in the Mediterranean atmosphere. This was the place where the international, personal contacts between the instructors were further strengthened in 'high quality' conversations, seasoned by appropriate drinks, just like earlier during the training (there however, in a harder and more solid way!)
On sunday morning Pascal suddenly turned into an early bird. At 6.30 am he couldn't resist any more the howling dogs or the crowing cocks. He went out of the bungalow and meditated outside on the training he was going to give us at 9 am. After the breakfast the training with Shihan Pascal Petrella started. Instead of the programmed 2 hours it turned out be 3 sweat-inducing hours. Shihan Pascal started off the training with a light randori as a warming up. Then we went on with breathing exercises, where we especially concentrated on the breathing in, and executing a sharp and quick tension in the hara at the end phase of the inhalation. Even more senior karatekas had some problems with this. Next, we were supposed to apply this in Ten-No-Kata and in Kumite (with closed hands). Later, we added Hentei counter techniques into the kumite, and then finally also Gyaku-Uraken. The following exercises intended to train the reaction to sensory stimuli e.g. optic ones combined with Atobaya, after that we did kumite exercises with a Sanbon-Tsuki attack combination. In the final phase we worked through Cattle-No-Naihanchi (a Tekki 2 variation) and deepened it with Bunkai. After 3 hours training, incl. two short breaks, the 2005 Gasshuku in Loutraki, Greece, was sadly coming to an end - and so was our stay in this enchanting seaside place blessed with the most fabulous weather.
The Sport Camp proved to be optimal: Full board and lodging with reasonable pricing, sufficient sanitary facilities, several sporting venues, sport hall, washing machine & dryer, clotheslines in the open air, kiosk and most importantly everything to be found in the immediate vicinity.
We had our farewell lunch, visit to the kiosk, saying goodbye, we packed and drove back to the airport. There our mood darkened rapidly as we heard at the check-in that our plane was 40 min delayed, which meant that we wouldn't be able to catch our connecting flight in Rome. Luckily, the pretty check-in lady with brown eyes proved to be very helpful and she booked us immediately a flight with another airline. We ran to the gate, and everything after that went smoothly till we arrived home ca. 0.30 am.
Background: The Gasshuku in Loutraki was a further milestone on the way of establishing the official association "Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate Do Academy (KSKA)". Its objective is to safeguard the life-work of Shihan Kase and to carry it on remaining true to his way, as well as to keep together his big family, all his followers and loyal students from all over the Europe and beyond. Mrs Kase will be the honorary president of the association. When Shihan Kase started to have serious health problems, there was a need to think ahead, about the time, when he wouldn't be able to give any trainings and even the time after him. During the discussions with him all these concerns were dealt with.
The result of these conversations was:
- to establish a Shihankai that supports the Master in all matters. Shihan Kase chose the members.
- to continue with the courses (also without the Master, given by his high level students), so that the contact between each other was guaranteed.
- to elaborate a grading programme tailor made to Shihan Kase's karate.
Shihan Kase and his students were relieved (said Pascal Petrella) when these intentions were formalised. The painful loss of Shihan Kase November 2004 confirmed that these steps, taken in time, had been necessary.
The Shihankai met for the first time since the death of Shihan Kase in Hasselt, Belgium (13.-15.5.2005). The second meeting took place here in Loutraki. The friendly relationships deepened over the years and the respectful interaction with each other formed a solid basis for the future work of this group (see above). Detailed information can be found in the KSKA-Newsletters 6 and 7 (2005).
OSS Mario Sammarco, Germany