Twin City Gasshuku – October 2009

By: Sensei Igor Vakos -   IOGKF Dojo Slovakia ( &
      Sensei Raoul Vogel - IOGKF Austria            (

IOGKF Austria and Slovakia hosted IOGKF World Technical Advisor, Sensei Bakkies Laubscher, for the first ever twin city Gasshuku. All members enjoyed the event, which Sensei Laubscher ensured covered a great deal of the IOGKF teachings...

This Gasshuku took place under the sign of many a ‘First Time’.

For the first time a Gasshuku was organised jointly between the Austrian, IOGKF-Austria, and the Slovakian IOGKF Dojo, Slovakia.

For the first time the second highest graded black belt of the International Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Federation (IOGKF) Bakkies Laubscher Shihan (8th Dan, IOGKF South Africa Chief Instructor, IOGKF International Technical Advisor) visited Slovakia .

For the first time Slovakia was host to a Gasshuku with participants from so many different countries.

For the first time in the history of the Slovakian organisation, a black belt grading was held at one of its events.

Both organisations, represented by Raoul Vogel and Michael Holzer for Austria and Igor Vakos, Michal Macak and Hana Pernecka for Slovakia, were very proud that our dream came true and would like to share some of our experiences with you.

Bakkies Sensei arrived in Senec late afternoon of 22 October 2009. He was tired after a 20 hour flight and the car trip from Vienna airport to Senec. After a quick dinner it was off to bed. The next day, full of energy and power again, we took Sensei sightseeing through the heart of Bratislava . The small streets of the old town and traditional Slovakian cuisine seemed to find his favour. Early afternoon we returned to Senec, the location of the Gasshuku, approx 30 km from Bratislava .

The Friday evening training was only for brown and black belts. Participants came from United Kingdom , Romania , Czech Republic, Germany , and, of course, Austria and Slovakia . Sensei’s training focussed on basics, especially tai sabaki and suri ashi. The training was intense. Sensei surprised all newcomers with his power, speed and nimbleness. At the age of 60, he was a real inspiration for younger practitioners and he truly displayed a positive role model in his persona and his mastery of the art.

Saturday commenced with training for black belts only. With Sanseru Kata on the agenda, Bakkies Sensei concentrated on the details, breaking the Kata down into simple combinations, followed by putting together the combinations again until the Kata was whole again. In the same vein he held the training for the following brown and black belt group, concentrating on Saifa Kata. Sensei explained the complicated parts of the Kata in great detail.

The training for all grades focussed on basic techniques. Bakkies Sensei explained the practice of Junbi Undo, Hojo Undo and Neko Undo. His knowledge about biomechanics and the human body is profound. More than 70 participants carefully listened to the words of a true master of Karate-do. Bakkies Sensei also explained the possibilities of training successfully at home with limited space, as well as, scheduling training into a fast and overfilled modern lifestyle. In the afternoon Sensei continued with the same principles and practices and the practitioners started to understand more complicated models of moving.

Saturday evening was reserved for the Sayonara party, as some participants could not attend Sunday’s trainings. In his speech Bakkies Sensei showed appreciation for all participants and thanked all for coming to the Gasshuku. He was happy that so many people from so many different countries came to learn something about the legacy of the old Okinawan masters of Goju Ryu Karate-do. At the party all participants had the opportunity to get to know each other off the dojo floor and outside a Gi.

Sunday’s training loomed soon and the Sayonara party ended relatively early. Sunday morning found an expectant group of Karate-ka waiting for Sensei’s training. What is an IOGKF Gasshuku without Sanchin training? True to tradition Bakkies Sensei took the black belt group through Sanchin Kata, showing us the exact breathing and tension in the Kata. The feeling developed in Sanchin training was then put to good use in the practice of Sanseru and Saifa Kata. It was certainly enlightening to experience the logical line from Sanchin Kata to all other Goju Ryu Kata. The all-grades training emphasised Ippon Kumite. Everybody learnt something new and everyone made a step towards perfection in their Karate.

At the end of the Gasshuku members of Kobudo Kai, Slovakia presented a short demonstration of traditional Ryu Kyu Kobudo (weapons). The demonstration rounded off a successful event and the First Twin City Gasshuku soon became a pleasant and inspiring memory.

For two participants the Gasshuku was not over yet - They were about to take grading tests! For Michael Holzer (ustria ) and Andreas Hofmann (Germany ), 2 hours of challenges followed under the watchful eyes of Sensei’s Bakkies Laubscher and Raoul Vogel. Both candidates acquitted themselves well and passed their respective grading’s. We congratulate Andreas Hofmann for obtaining his Nidan and Michael Holzer for acquiring Sandan!

In closing allow us to express a ‘Big Thank You’ to Bakkies Sensei, the organiser and all participants of the first Twin City Gasshuku!

We look forward to seeing each other again at the next Twin City Gasshuku or any other IOGKF event soon!