Gasshuku is a traditional "summer break" that is a fixture of the standard dojo calendar around the globe.
Gasshuku 合宿 literally means “training together” or “training camp” and is a time-period observed by dojo everywhere. It generally occurs in the month of August, although it really can be anywhere in the mid-point of the training year. (There are even a few dojo that observe it twice, once in the Spring and once in Autumn, but that is rare and somewhat non-traditional).
Regardless of the exact dates for Gasshuku, it comes at roughly the middle of the training year – about six months after Kagami Biraki (read more about Kagami Biraki here.) Gasshuku can be as short as a long weekend, or a week, or several weeks. Some dojo even take the entire month to observe Gasshuku, but again, that is rare.
What Happens During Gasshuku
Don’t expect celebrations or special events during Gasshuku – it’s not that kind of “holiday.” Gasshukuisn’t celebrated the way that a regular holiday is celebrated, nor does it carry the same level of history as a Kagami Biraki or the level of seriousness and importance that something like Rank Testing deserves.
Rather, Gasshuku is a short time for both the dojo and all of its karateka to reflect on the year so far, especially as it pertains to training in karatedo. It’s a perfect opportunity to spend a few minutes thinking about what you’ve accomplished, what progress you’ve made towards your goals, and to plan for the rest of the year.
At some dojo, Gasshuku also is the time that one or more special training camps can be scheduled. This year, our dojo isn’t holding any training camps given the chaotic nature of world events, but many times we host a a special seminar, or we setup a special training opportunity outside the dojo at a park or beach.
But really, the most important part of Gasshuku is the opportunity to take a small break from training, and reflect.
Gasshuku Isn’t Solely About Training
Many times, we spend so much of our focus on accomplishing, on doing, on achieving, that we don’t take the time to step back, stop for a moment, and reflect about why we’re doing, achieving, and accomplishing “stuff” – we don’t stop to consider if we truly are on-course, or perhaps, if we might not have wandered a little from the goals we set for ourselves.
Gasshuku is the brief chance to sit down with our own thoughts (and our written goals and plans) and see what progress we’ve made, and really evaluate if we are on-course.
And not only should you be evaluating whether you’re on-course to accomplish your goals, but also take a moment to consider if the goals you set at the beginning of the year are still your goals now, more than half way through the year. If they need to change, then change them now. Make sure the destination you set out for at the beginning of the year is still the destination you want to find yourself at when the year ends.
Finally, also remember that Gasshuku is a chance to take a brief moment away from training hard. Give yourself that chance: take a break for a day or two, and let your body and your mind rest. You’ll find that you’re ready to redouble your efforts, both on the dojo floor, and off, once Gasshuku ends.