PDA

View Full Version : Gashyuku - Training Camp


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


dragonsun5
02-15-2010, 02:46 AM
So the first week of March I have a training camp I am doing with my Japanese school's Aikido club. And I am a bit terrified. I was talking today with the older students and they said that it is very hard for the first time students and very intense. Also since my Japanese is hardly proficient it just kinda adds to my worry. I am also considered a kohai or first year by the club standards who gets more responsibilities around the training ground and the place we are staying. I am looking forward to it but I am also, again, slightly terrified.

Anyone ever done one or something similar before? Any advice? :sorry:

Peter Goldsbury
02-15-2010, 03:38 AM
So the first week of March I have a training camp I am doing with my Japanese school's Aikido club. And I am a bit terrified. I was talking today with the older students and they said that it is very hard for the first time students and very intense. Also since my Japanese is hardly proficient it just kinda adds to my worry. I am also considered a kohai or first year by the club standards who gets more responsibilities around the training ground and the place we are staying. I am looking forward to it but I am also, again, slightly terrified.

Anyone ever done one or something similar before? Any advice? :sorry:

Hello,

Are you actually a full member of the aikido club, or are you regarded as a visitor?

When I trained with Hiroshima University's aikido club and went to gasshuku, I took part in all the training sessions (three sessions: morning run and training before breakfast; two hours of aikido training after breakfast; three hours of aikido training after lunch), but was not regarded as a full club member, since I was a professor at the university--and also a yudansha.

Best wishes,

dragonsun5
02-15-2010, 03:47 AM
Hello,

Are you actually a full member of the aikido club, or are you regarded as a visitor?

When I trained with Hiroshima University's aikido club and went to gasshuku, I took part in all the training sessions (three sessions: morning run and training before breakfast; two hours of aikido training after breakfast; three hours of aikido training after lunch), but was not regarded as a full club member, since I was a professor at the university--and also a yudansha.

Best wishes,

I believe I am considered an actual member for the one year I am studying. It was quite a while before they actually let me joined and practiced as they never had a foreigner in the club before but I signed a contract to follow the rules of the club and Aikido after they officially let me start practicing. Up until then I did about two months of kengaku. I am actually participating when I can in most of their events and am treated as a first year student and they are very slow and patient with me because of my language level. I am still learning though.

And the training schedule sounds a lot like that. Extra early wake up for kohai to clean, morning run, breakfast, morning training, lunch, afternoon training, cleaning, dinner, meeting, bed.

Peter Goldsbury
02-15-2010, 06:11 AM
Well, it will be a very interesting and unusual experience for you, probably quite unlike anything else you will ever again encounter in your 'aikido life'.

I assume that you are healthy and have a good level of general stamina. Be aware that student aikido clubs in Japan have a long history and are heirs to a very distinct educational culture. Be aware also that you will gradually become quite exhausted as the gasshuku proceeds and so the possibility of stupid injuries in the closing days is quite real.

Attending student gassuku was one way how I learned to eat natto without flinching. To an ordinary bowl of rice you add a raw egg and natto. Mix it all together and eat between strips of nori seaweed. In addition, be prepared to eat HUGE amounts of rice at lunchtime. According to accepted gasshuku theory, this is meant to provide the necessary stamina for the afternoon training.

Best wishes,

Walter Martindale
02-15-2010, 11:13 AM
So the first week of March I have a training camp I am doing with my Japanese school's Aikido club. And I am a bit terrified. I was talking today with the older students and they said that it is very hard for the first time students and very intense. Also since my Japanese is hardly proficient it just kinda adds to my worry. I am also considered a kohai or first year by the club standards who gets more responsibilities around the training ground and the place we are staying. I am looking forward to it but I am also, again, slightly terrified.

Anyone ever done one or something similar before? Any advice? :sorry:
Dr. Goldsbury offers excellent advice. "glycogen sparing" activities will also help - drink "sports drink" not energy drinks when rehydrating. Eat a high carb snack IMMEDIATELY after training ends. According to all the sports nutritionists I've heard speak your system and muscles have a faster recovery from training if you have a small carb snack with a bit of protein within 15 minutes of stopping training. One of the better recovery "foods" is chocolate milk - a bit of sugar, a bit of protein, and a bit of fluid.

Avoid lots of heavy fatty foods if you're going to be training again within 90 minutes - you don't want to see your meal on the mats.

Where are you and where is the gasshuku? There's a big one happening in Auckland first weekend of March.

W

Charles Hill
02-15-2010, 04:33 PM
Hi Walter,

I think that what Dr. Goldsbury is refering to are the things that Alex will HAVE to do, not what he should do. As a first year student he will be expected to do exactly what the other 1st years are doing. He will not have the choice to drink a sports drink or even water if the others are not doing so.

My personal advice is to be sensible and if you are expected to do something that you think is wrong, play the "gaijin" card. This means to just do what you think is best and if called on it, act like you had no idea that you were doing something wrong.

Alex, I really hope you have a great time. I, however, have never met a Japanese person who enjoyed school gasshuku as a 1st year student. They do start to love it when they get to be an upperclassman, though.

James Young
02-15-2010, 11:18 PM
If your club has a kyoka geiko (strengthening practice) week beforehand to get you ready for the gasshuku then definitely go to that. Also as others have said try to eat well and take advantage of rest periods. No doubt that it will be a grueling experience as a first timer (probably closest comparison is a boot camp for students) and it will exhaust you. At the time you'll wonder why you are paying good money for all of the pain, however, I think the experience is great to toughen an individual up so to speak and you'll learn a lot about yourself and your limits and likely you'll make a leap in your aikido ability which you'll realize afterwards. You'll also build some great camaraderie with your fellow club members. Just trust in the fact that after it's over you'll enjoy the recovery period for the rest of your spring break and years later you'll look back on the experience fondly.

dragonsun5
02-16-2010, 09:16 AM
Dr. Goldsbury:
I have already been experiencing the unique student culture and its something I never expected when I tried to join this club. I was even warned that out of all the clubs, probably apart from Kendo, it is the strictest. I expect I will be experiencing that a lot more during the Gasshuku with the added responsibilities given to the underclassmen but my senpai have all been very kind to me and helpful. I have never been in a very strict setting like this before and they are slowly teaching me. Because I have never been in an Aikido club before coming to Japan do all Aikido clubs tend to be as strict as student clubs? Since I will be going back to the states in August I want to look up a club around my school so I can continue training but I have no idea what to expect when I go home.

I hate natto. I don't flinch. I gag.

By the way, I was just in Hiroshima when I traveled with friends. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. Also getting lost going down Mt. Misen will be something I will never forget either.

Mr. Martindale:
Unfortunately I am at the mercy of the group so I have no idea when I will be allowed to drink or eat beyond breakfast, lunch, and dinner or what kind of breaks there will be if any during or after the practices. I am in Japan now and my Gasshuku will be in Shizuoka.

Mr. Hill:
My senpai are very kind and allow me to ask many questions in my horribly broken Japanese. If I need help with something or I don't know what exactly is going on I usually ask before I do rather then do and find out it was wrong.

They've been pretty much scaring me with all their tales and I've heard it is very hard from the others but we'll see. I am expecting it to be one level below boot camp.

Mr. Young:
Next week is our pre-training week where we have running and training for 2 hours everyday to condition us for the following week. I will be going to that. I've done extreme workouts at home and I think then why do I pay to be in that kind of pain. But the end result was always worth it and I felt much better after a week of intense workouts. I am thinking it is going to be something like that experience.

I am definitely looking forward to it even though I am getting very nervous about it. It's something that I don't think many international students ever get to experience in their time abroad and I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be apart of it and the club. Thank you for all the advice!

Carl Thompson
02-16-2010, 09:43 AM
I hate natto. I don't flinch. I gag.

Hello Alex

I’m not quite sure how to break this to you, but... you will never understand Aikido unless you learn how to eat natto. Shizuokan’s seem to be split fifty-fifty in their understanding of this important fact so maybe it won’t make an appearance (much to the loss of all concerned).

I am in Japan now and my Gasshuku will be in Shizuoka.

Just out of interest, whereabouts in Shizuoka?

Regards

Carl

Btw: I meant to say, one good thing is the time of year you are doing it. Although I would still recommend being mindful of your fluids, there are some hellish camps in the summer.

dragonsun5
02-16-2010, 10:47 AM
Hello Alex

I'm not quite sure how to break this to you, but... you will never understand Aikido unless you learn how to eat natto. Shizuokan's seem to be split fifty-fifty in their understanding of this important fact so maybe it won't make an appearance (much to the loss of all concerned).

How does eating Natto add to the understanding of Aikido?

Just out of interest, whereabouts in Shizuoka?

I have no idea. I'm just following what the senpai tell me to do.

Peter Goldsbury
02-16-2010, 05:36 PM
Dr. Goldsbury:
I have already been experiencing the unique student culture and its something I never expected when I tried to join this club. I was even warned that out of all the clubs, probably apart from Kendo, it is the strictest. I expect I will be experiencing that a lot more during the Gasshuku with the added responsibilities given to the underclassmen but my senpai have all been very kind to me and helpful. I have never been in a very strict setting like this before and they are slowly teaching me. Because I have never been in an Aikido club before coming to Japan do all Aikido clubs tend to be as strict as student clubs? Since I will be going back to the states in August I want to look up a club around my school so I can continue training but I have no idea what to expect when I go home.
PAG. Is this a high school club? Is the club run by the kanbu? Have you ever met the shihan, or the person who is supposed to have the technical expertise? Apologies for the questions, but they will help to form something of an image of what you should should expect. Aikido has come relatively late to high schools in Japan (I assume your club is affiliated to the Aikikai, correct me if it is not). Universities have had aikido clubs for many decades, though I suspect that way of teaching and training is the same. However, many university clubs attached to the Taiikukai have experienced a falling off of numbers in recent years, since the present generation of students is far less willing to put up with all the regimentation and strict sempai-kohai relationships. We have high school and university students in my own dojo who want to escape from this sort of thing.

I hate natto. I don't flinch. I gag.
PAG. I think Carl was having a joke. Japan's population is pretty evenly split between those who swear by the virtues of natto and those who cannot abide the stuff. This affects Japanese aikidoka also.

By the way, I was just in Hiroshima when I traveled with friends. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. Also getting lost going down Mt. Misen will be something I will never forget either.
PAG. Good. Next time you are here, let me know.

I am definitely looking forward to it even though I am getting very nervous about it. It's something that I don't think many international students ever get to experience in their time abroad and I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be apart of it and the club. Thank you for all the advice!
PAG. As I stated before, be careful of injuries. In my experience these have happened because people were exhausted. Hence my earlier question about who will actually do the teaching.

Best wishes,

PAG

dragonsun5
02-16-2010, 05:55 PM
PAG. Is this a high school club? Is the club run by the kanbu? Have you ever met the shihan, or the person who is supposed to have the technical expertise? Apologies for the questions, but they will help to form something of an image of what you should should expect. Aikido has come relatively late to high schools in Japan (I assume your club is affiliated to the Aikikai, correct me if it is not). Universities have had aikido clubs for many decades, though I suspect that way of teaching and training is the same. However, many university clubs attached to the Taiikukai have experienced a falling off of numbers in recent years, since the present generation of students is far less willing to put up with all the regimentation and strict sempai-kohai relationships. We have high school and university students in my own dojo who want to escape from this sort of thing.

It is a University club. I am a junior in my home college but in the club I am considered a freshman. They just had their 50 year anniversary last year and they are affiliated with the Aikikai. I've been to the head quarters before with the club to watch and root for some of the students who were testing for their next kyu.

I have met our master, Fujimaki sensei and he teaches about twice a month during the school year and will be at the Gasshuku. He is very nice but incredibly intimidating. I don't ever talk to him much but he is an incredible teacher from what I've watched when doing Kengaku and experienced when I was apart of the teaching sessions. Otherwise the captain, who is 1st or 2nd dan ( I can't remember) along with is vice-captains lead the class when Sensei is not there.

I know its strict but I actually don't mind it all that much. I am here to learn about the culture and I take everything in stride. I just get the added opportunity to experience a school club cultural setting. During the year we have practice 6 days a week and I have been learning a little bit of Keigo when I need to address the older students. They find it amusing when I try and correct me when (which is often) I'm wrong. Again I just take it in stride and take it all as a learning experience. The seza is what kills me though. I think I'm getting a little bit more flexible in sitting seza as I can stand it a little longer but once I hit that point I'm ready to fall over. It's hard to stand up afterward.

Is it just in Japanese school's though that its like this? Again I've never been to another dojo so I don't know what the set up is like outside of a Japanese dojo.

Walter Martindale
02-17-2010, 03:07 PM
Mr. Martindale:
Unfortunately I am at the mercy of the group so I have no idea when I will be allowed to drink or eat beyond breakfast, lunch, and dinner or what kind of breaks there will be if any during or after the practices. I am in Japan now and my Gasshuku will be in Shizuoka.



Well, OK. Can you put a couple of bottles of gatorade, powerade, or equivalent into your sports bag and have a half-bottle (assuming 600 mL bottle) or even a full bottle asap after training? That's how I've survived gasshuku in Auckland, and as a professional coach, that's the advice I give rowers on long workouts - if they're out there for more than 60 minutes, they consume a sports drink at 30 and 60 minutes.
Your muscles use fats and "glycogen" as sources of energy to contract, and after a while the glycogen stores in your muscles get used up. Then you slow down. If you take some calories every so often during the training (easily absorbed, isotonic solutions) your body puts the polysaccharides into use as an energy source for the muscles, rather than the stored muscle glycogen. this essentially "spares" your glycogen and prolongs the time that you can go at a higher pace, getting a better training effect because you're training harder, because you're not depleting your energy stores.

However - having been through some of the old fashioned training characteristic of judo and aikido, this sort of re-supply may be difficult. Have something within 15 minutes of stopping training, if at all possible - even if it's a half-granola-bar, or one of those little rice-in-nori snacks you can get in corner shops everywhere in Japan.

If you can't do this resupply, expect to get progressively more tired through the weekend - that will happen anyway, but you'll be more tired without the top-ups than with.

Cheers,
Walter

Chris Farnham
02-17-2010, 05:57 PM
"Shizuokan's seem to be split fifty-fifty in their understanding of this important fact"

...Might explain my current frustrations (and yours previously) with Aikido in Shizuoka.

dragonsun5
02-17-2010, 05:59 PM
Thank you for the advice. From what I remember of the schedule after every practice we have a meal and the running happens before breakfast then we eat then train then eat some more. Packing granola bars is a good idea and maybe I can sneak one in before running. Have no idea what the format of this is going to be though.


If you can't do this resupply, expect to get progressively more tired through the weekend - that will happen anyway, but you'll be more tired without the top-ups than with.

It's a week long Gasshuku :) Going to be an interesting week.

Peter Goldsbury
02-17-2010, 06:39 PM
I have met our master, Fujimaki sensei and he teaches about twice a month during the school year and will be at the Gasshuku. He is very nice but incredibly intimidating. I don't ever talk to him much but he is an incredible teacher from what I've watched when doing Kengaku and experienced when I was apart of the teaching sessions. Otherwise the captain, who is 1st or 2nd dan ( I can't remember) along with is vice-captains lead the class when Sensei is not there.
PAG. Ah, yes. I know Mr Fujimaki. He is one of the younger instructors in the Aikikai Hombu.

Is it just in Japanese school's though that its like this? Again I've never been to another dojo so I don't know what the set up is like outside of a Japanese dojo.
PAG. Well, as I stated, I have about 30 years experience of training in the local university club here and also at the main city dojo. My general impression of the university club is that the students have much general stamina and learn very good flying ukemi, but the technical level is not so high. The students are somewhat like the cherry blossoms that will soon be coming into bloom. They also bloom for a few intense years in the university club and then settle down to a life of fond reminiscence as OBs/OGs. I occasionally meet some of these students. I am still training and teaching and they, married with young families, wistfully talk about how nice it would be to begin training again. When I retired, the club organized a special seminar and I taught the class. Many of these OBs and OGs appeared and it was a very pleasant occasion, not least to see how they had changed since they were students.

In the main city dojo, on the other hand, you find people who have been training for years, who cannot keep up with the students in terms of stamina, but whose technical level is quite a lot higher.

Donald T Roden has written a good book on the prewar origins of the student sports clubs. The title is Schooldays in Imperial Japan.

Best wishes,

PAG