KSKA - Gasshuku at Tampere Finland 13. - 15. July 2007

By Philip Lehrer, Belgium

Frankie De Reu and I arrived on Friday afternoon and waited in Tampere airport for Madame Kase and Jim Martin and his group to arrive. We were then whisked off to the Urku hotel by bus, where after having unloaded our luggage, we were immediately taken to the very nice, modern sports complex where the Gasshuku would take place. As usual when everybody gets together there was a chorus of greetings. Most of us know each other and those who didnīt soon did.


Shihan Heene with Madam Kase

Lesson 1 given by Pascal Petrella Shihan

Sensei Pascal started us, after a good warm-up with Randori. The emphasis for this session was on a combination part of of 1st and 2nd Dan kihon programmes consisting of 8 closed fist techniques, first from hanmi-dachi, then from fudo-dachi, combined with hentei techniques. Sensei Pascal pointed out that performing a blocking / counter combination:

  1. Timing and blocking
  2. Hip shifting (forwards) with hentei counter and
  3. the mind should emphasis on killing with one blow (Ikken Hisatsu)

Shihan Petrella

First we worked on this alone, then with partner. We then added on to the combination, gyaku uraken, going both inside and out in doing a 180° turn. Added on to this, we then did o-kuri-ashi combination from the 2nd dan program with mae-geri, mawashi-geri, yoko-geri and ushiro-geri. Working on all of this with a partner made us all feel what real pressure means. Then to make it even more "fun", Sensei Pascal had tori practice free attacks, countered by Uke with what we had trained. At the end of the session, I can assure you, there was a lot of steam in the Dojo.

After this initiation, back we went to the hotel for a tasty meal, to meet the group of Dave Wilkins from UK, who had arrived in the meantime, a lot of catching-up and then to bed.

Lesson 2 given by Velibor Dimitrijevic Shihan

After a hearty breakfast, back we went to the Dojo where, I personally experienced the art of Karate given in a scientific fashion that up to now I had not seen before. The idea was to combine the basic technical parts of our "ryu", with a higher level of the mental and breathing techniques, which are actually the essence of the "Kase Ha" approach to our art. What Sensei Velibor had us attain, was to reach the best level in attack and and defense, which does not necessarily mean through, just speed and muscular strength. The way to generate power is via the use of a specific breathing, in turn augmented by offensive and/or defensive techniques.

This breathing is based on "Misogi" breathing. The rhythm of the exercises was based on alternatively generating and regenerating "Ki", through "Tanden Kime" and regeneration of energy by controlled breathing.

Sensei Veblibor also gave us to understand, that martial arts are based on the principals of mental and spiritual development, beyond power and technique. In "Do" (the way), there are 5 stages leading to perfection:

  1. To win by destroying the opponent.
  2. To win by using less force.
  3. To win without injuring your opponent.
  4. To win without touching your opponent.
  5. To establish peace.

The whole set of exercises was first practiced as a "Kihon" routine, in order to learn to control breathing, rooting and focus. The second part was partner work as in "Kihon Kumite" and the third was contact training, by which each partner working from an "Embu" state of mind, could work on correcting breathing, rooting and stance (Tanden Kime), via hand contact (i.e. age uke in opposition to oi zuki). In order to remember the routine, it was repeated at the end, so as to learn the extremes in "Kime" and relaxation, first fast and then slowly. The lesson was concluded with 5 minutes of "Misogi" breathing, so as to bring our "Ki" back to its natural flow. Not having seen much of these types of routines, this lesson was an eye-opener for me.

Shihan Velibor at his session

Shihans Mike Fedyk, Pascal Petrella and Jim Martin and Dirk Heene
(not on the picture training hard at Shihan Velibors training session)

Lesson 3 given by Jim Martin Shihan:

After a short break it was Sensei Jimīs turn to show us the intricacies of Tekki Bunkai Oyo, which is difficult because it is trained diagonally. One has to turn away from the angle of attack, alternately training with a partner, then continuing the kata without him. Then the other part is trained with the partner and the first part without. Then the kata is trained one on two, where the applications are different again. Here speed is of the essence, as is tactical thinking. Uke must take one Tori down, so as to have him between himself and the second Tori, in order to be able to escape and take the second Tori on. I personally found this very difficult, but when well done, very efficient.

Shihan Jim explains some kata bunkai to Jani Sommpi from Finland

It was time for lunch. We were offered a slap-up buffet in the Dojo, whilst 3 members of the "Shihankai", hold an extensive grading. I am happy to announce that the KSK now has one new 6th Dan from the U.K. and two 4th Dans from Finland. Congratulations to Dave Wilkins, to Toni Gallen and to Passi Nettamo.

Tired but happy (especially the aforementioned three), back we went to the hotel for a short rest. In the evening we went, typically for Finland to a wood house at a forest next to a lake, for a sauna and a meal. Jani Somppi and his group from Kase Ha Finland organized a fantastic evening with excellent food and atmosphere where we again, had a chance to chat and exchange impressions on what we were experiencing.

The wood house with Sauna at a lake

Lesson 4 given by Dirk Heene Shihan:

Sunday morning, after breakfast, the last lesson was given by Sensei Dirk. Basically after the warm-up, where he put some emphasis on "Misogi" breathing, he compiled everything, via Heian Oyo Kata, that we had worked on with Pascal, Velibor and Jim, putting the accent on good breathing, stances and body mechanics. Sensei Dirks emphasis here was on the different stances in Heian Oyo. Kata must be done in the original traditional way, which means a proper zenkutsu-dachi, kiba-dachi and kokutsu dachi. Each position has a physical impact to our body, each kata has an impact to our body when practices regularly. He also spoke a little about teachers he had known, Miyazaki, Enoeda, Shirai and of course, Kase Sensei and their contribution to Karate in general and our Karate in particular. He also emphasized the reason Heian Oyo was created. It is not a "form", but an "application" Kata, which means a tool that can be used in "real life" situations. At the end of the session, everybody was able to perform the Kata in a more than adequate fashion. Hopefully, with regular practice, it will be well known by everybody.

Shihan Heene discussed Heian Oyo at his Training

As soon as the last session ended, lunch was eaten and then everybody went their own way. Most karateka went home. Some joined Sensei Dirk and the Finns to Piispala for the by now traditional summer course. All participants left with a feeling of satisfaction. I should like to mention some friends, for the impression they left on me. Of course, all the members of the Shihankai, not only for their vast knowledge, but for the devotion, they bring it to us with, Mona from Sweden, with her killer smile and even more potent punch, Tim Harte from Cork, for his courage, Tim Smith from Tenerife, Greg from Kuwait and Arie from Israel, who come from afar, just to be with us. Freya, Nico and Felix, whose room I still went to visit, even after they'd left for Piispala and my traveling companion, Frankie who taught me the principle he teaches all his students after their very first grading: "Hatsu-un Yin Do"; to find one's way through the clouds. Till next time and let us all find our way through those clouds.


Haiku of the moment: As learn is a part
Of live so too is
Live a part of the
Wish to learn!

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