During the weekend of September 23 to 25 the German Federation organised a gasshuku (training camp) in Dinkelscherben in southern Germany (near Augsburg, where a number of the German branches are located).
Aosaka-sensei, 8 dan Daihanshi and official WSKO instructor, from Paris was the main instructor for this gasshuku. From Karlstad, and as the only one from Sweden, I was attending this gasshuku. In addition to the participants from all the German branches there were participants from Italy, Switzerland, Finland and of course France, with Aosaka-sensei.
For my part, the journey began with an extremely early morning three hour drive from my home to Skavsta to catch the flight to Munich (Memmingen) with Ryan Air that departed at seven o’clock in the morning. I was picked up at the airport by Ralph Sittig, who is the general secretary of the German Federation and we went to Augsburg for a little sightseeing with a group Kenshi from Italy who would also attend the camp. Among the Italians it was basically just familiar faces with Carugatti-sensei from Milan in the lead, but also Massimiliano Rossi, who is shibu-chō in Roma Eur, was among the familiar faces.
After some sightseeing in Augsburg, including the world’s oldest social housing Fuggerei, we went to Dinkelscherben in order to settle in for the weekend.
On Friday, some German Kenshi had grading, but for the other of us it was the social activities. It was a relatively early night for myself since I had been up since three in the morning and we were supposed to start training at nine on Saturday.
The training was structured fairly normal for a gasshuku, with some joint training, and some divided into groups according to grade. All shibu-chō who were there had to help teach a session for a group. Aosaka-sensei taught the group of those who were 3 dan and above, but with the approach that he also taught one hōkei per group in the other groups and that those who were over sandan joined in with and trained together in each group. With this system all levels got instructions from Aosaka-sensei, and those who were higher graded got a good refresher of the techniques from lower levels as well as the kyūkenshi got the opportunity to train with higher graded kenshi and get a good help.
I, along with Carugatti-sensei, was the “throwing dummy” for Aosaka-sensei quite a lot. It is always useful to have high graded instructors do techniques on yourself so you know how they do them. One learn well that way.
On Saturday evening there was a little after-dinner games, or actually a contest where the winner was proclaimed a “super-kenshi “. The final of this competition consisted of sumo wrestling in big sumo suits. I of course had to represent Sweden and it went pretty well in the beginning when it came to answer questions about Shorinji Kempo and one part where we should tie a belt as quickly as possible. However when we got to karaoke (SingStar), it was more or less hopeless. The evening ended with a relaxed socializing around the fireplace in the courtyard next to the training hall.
Sunday’s training was more or less structured in the same way as Saturday’s, except the afternoon when we had a long hōwa where Aosaka-sensei talked about our philosophy. The last session included training of techniques from the group Kongo ken, where we trained a number of Katame that is not practiced that often as they are not included in today’s kamokuhyō for gradings.
Then the camp was closed and all the instructors were thanked with a gift from the German Federation. So I had to pack up and say goodbye to many old and some new friends. However, a number of them I will probably meet at the gasshuku in Berlin in late October.
Sunday evening was spent in Augsburg and I had dinner with Aosaka-sensei, Wunderle-sensei and a few other kenshi from Germany.
Monday morning I was picked up by Ralph who drove me to the airport for the onward journey back home. It was a great weekend with good training and, above all, always fun to meet old friends from both Germany, Italy and Finland. I can highly recommend all kenshi to attend as many gasshuku they can, in addition to good training this also provides an opportunity to get to know kenshi in other branches/countries.