IOGKF Canada Black Belt Gasshuku & Friendship Tournament

By: Joe Van Troost – IOGKF Canada

This year, IOGKF Canada combined its annual Black Belt Gasshuku and all grades Friendship Tournament into four action packed days. The event ran very smoothly under the guidance of World Vice Chief Instructor, Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura, who covered much of the Goju-ryu Kata & Bunkai and wowed audiences with his demonstrations…

From Thursday April 15th – Sunday April 18th, I lived and breathed karate like I had never done before.  On Thursday night, Sensei Nakamura ran his first session of the IOGKF Canada Black Belt Gasshuku.  We went through very detailed application and self-defence taken from Gekisai Dai Ichi up to Saifa. It was a lot to take in, so I’m glad I wrote most of it down. On Friday, morning/afternoon, we finished with the Kata and bunkai applications.

We took a break until evening, where we had a training session for all judges, scorekeepers and helpers that would be participating at the Friendship Tournament on Saturday. The judges and scorekeepers had to learn a hybrid of SAGA and IOGKF Canada rules for the tournament and we all wanted to be on the same page. It was the first time I had learned the words and the actions that went with them (i.e. jogai, mubobi, etc.) but I think I did alright.

We took a break from the gasshuku on Saturday in order to help run the Friendship Tournament. The tournament went extremely well. Everyone was impressed with the various demonstrations:  The taiko drums by Sensei Adrienne and Sensei Bruce, assisted by Cathy captured everyone’s attention; ‘team’ Kata performed by all of the available black belts together wowed the audience; Sensei Nakamura’s bunkai demonstration for Seiyunchin with Stuart showed some of the intricacies of the Goju-Ryu style; and about ten black belts from Shudokan Dojo demonstrated 8 hojo undo exercises.

I was fortunate to watch all of this take place from the sidelines, so I could feel the excitement from the crowd. I feel that I should mention that Desiree did an OUTSTANDING job marshalling and organizing the competitors, which made this perhaps the best-run tournament I’ve ever seen.  The competitors vied for top spots, of course, but everyone was given a medal. After all, it takes courage just to get up in front of judges and strangers, and that should be rewarded too.  From my point of view, as a spectator and a judge, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased to see such strong adherence to the standard practices that Sensei Nakamura has been promoting these last few years in the competitors from three other Dojo. Overall, the tournament went very smoothly and everyone (almost) was pleased with the results. A special mention should go to Sensei Adrienne, who worked very, very hard to coordinate and run the event. It was not an easy task and involved many long hours of work.

See a tournament photo slide show below:

Finally, on Sunday morning, we continued our gasshuku, cramming as much information as we could into 5 hours.  Our delicious sushi lunch at a local restaurant gave us a chance to socialize a bit more before heading back to the Shudokan Dojo to watch and/or participate in the black belt grading. Tony graded for his Shodan and Ilgar for his Nidan. I had the privilege to be a part of their grading by sparring with and holding focus pads for them.  They put forth a tremendous effort and passed the physical part of their grading.

See some of the Tournament highlights below:

This weekend was the most intense weekend I’ve ever had (well, Karate related), being exposed to so many different aspects of Goju-Ryu and the IOGKF modus operandi.  In addition to all the learning I did, I met some Karate-ka from Calgary and other parts of Ontario that I had not met before. I was also glad to see Sensei Sam from Buffalo again. I’m looking forward to the next gasshuku and/or tournament. I’d also like to wish good luck to the competitors who will be competing in upcoming tournaments, especially the one in South Africa in October.