The 4th IGA Ken Gasshuku was such a memorable event for the participants that many of them have spontaneously written about their experiences and thoughts about it. This is the seventh of a series of articles showcasing these reflections.Marc is one of the pioneer members of the Dasma Dojo. He and his wife Liza are prominent fixtures of the dojo, people that you can count on to lead their kohai in training. Marc is also know to channel his inner Ken Watanabe, so he’s relatively easy to pick out in group pictures!
Gasshuku Reflection from a “Feeling” Samurai .
Gasshuku 2014, the day I was excited for and dreading at the same time. 2000 suburi, I thought it would be impossible. In Gasshuku 2013 we did 1000 and my arms already felt like falling off at 200, got big ass blisters at 300. I was a mess, how can I possibly do 2000? But looking at all the faces and feeling the spirit of all the Kendokas in the Gym that day gave me the energy and the drive to accomplish the task at hand. As we all know we made it and seeing Sensei’s smiling face made me feel good that we as a group made him proud.
Bogu exam, the agony of defeat and the joy of success: this was probably the hardest bogu exam to date (I think), not because I thought they weren’t capable but because there were more Sensei and Sempai watching, and scrutinized all their forms and techniques. My heart fell when they didn’t make it first as i remember how frustrated I felt when I too failed. The feeling of despair because you know your 100 % just didn’t cut it, but after a couple of tries they succeeded in passing, they truly deserve to wear the bogu because even after failing and maybe thinking that all hope was lost, they were able to rise above it and pushed even harder and get all the Sensei stamp of approval!
Congratulations “Replacement” Motodachi , we gladly and ecstatically pass the torch to yoooooouuuuuu!
Ten-Man Team matches , Bitter Sweet Victory.
The calm before the storm, I remember feeling numb and lost, so many things in my head, who am I going up against? Shit! I dont want to let the team down, what if I perform badly? Mommy I want to go home! SUCK IT UP MARC! You’re such a looooooooser. So I sought after one of my sempais that helped me when he was my Taisho during a previous shiai. We had a short talk and even joked about what if we went up against each other.The talk was short and sweet as I was able to regain my calm and composure. First match, I was calm and went there to do what I was supposed to do. I was still nervous, so nervous that I was not able to read my opponents zekken (because I say thank you for the match win or loose as it is always a learning experience). I won my match! I remember feeling happy then sadness. Sadness Marc? Why would you feel sad you may ask. That is because for every victor there is also a fallen, and when you are defeated (a road I am all to familiar with), the negative mental baggage that comes with it can be quite depressing, and I don’t want to subject anyone to it, but it cannot be avoided. Second match, low and behold MY TAISHO Sempai WHOM I SOUGHT ADVICE BEFORE MY FIRST MATCH! I gave it my best not only for him but also for all the sensei , sempai , and kouhai that helped me in the past. The controversial round (it could have been the first or last round I’m not sure anymore, have to watch the vid nalang ), I decided to do my favorite MEN, he went for a lightning fast KOTE, BOOM we struck each other with our intended moves but I felt his strike hit my kote first before hitting his men, knowing this I gave a super loud kiai hoping I could salvage the match (or to keep my ass from being eliminated, not sure if this was the final or my first point) …………. in the end I got the victory , but it was an empty W as I knew that he knew he hit me fist (because of the reaction on his face when the point was given to me) . Even though I won I felt bad because I got the point due to my smoke and mirror tactic (I made it look more convincing I think), after bowing to each other I wanted to go to him and apologize but I had to wait for everyone to finish first. We talked and he understood (I had to tell him the truth about what I knew and what I did) so another bitter sweet victory.
Mudansha Team Matches, Corned beef anyone? I had 1 match and I was worried, I watched my opponent’s matches and saw how fast and strong he was, I remember thinking to myself “LORD WHY HIM!”, I felt like puking in my Men . We approached our places , bow, songkyo, HAJIME! I remember thinking “strike far fast and bahala na si god sa akin” because if he gets close I’m Corned Beef (the Purefoods variety) . He inched closer, my maai shrinking faster than expected, I launch …… I hit men 1 point. Second round I was thinking “he knows I’ll go for men I have to be faster and stronger, make a bigger swing, maybe lightning will strike twice”. Men! I got the second point. I survived the match.
Free for all sparring : so close yet soooo many galaxies far far away, feeling good from the experience, I was quickly shot down to earth as fast as Gins “Ikurose Shinso” by the Dan holders . Thinking to myself “These are not the droids we’re looking for ………………Wait! WHAT KIND OF JEDI MIND READING SORCERY IS THIS ?! Blocking and countering every move I made, taking one body part at a time, I felt like a paper target at a Texas gunshow. Then it hit me “maraming shinai ka pa kakainin” Kendo is an art that takes a lifetime for you to never ever master . So here we are hand in hand walking the same path that others took before us. Even though we might never reach our goal at least we will enjoy this journey together.
This Gasshuku 2014 will be one of the most memorable moments in my life seeing old and making new Kendo friends. I want to thank all Sensei, Senpai, Kouhai, UP Ken, MKC, IIKC, and DKC for making this event possible and a success. Hope to see all of you in Gasshuku 2015!
Sorry for not including names as it would be proper and improper at the same time, I also apologize also as I am not good at these sort of things.