It means “a seminar retreat,” or “training and living together.” At our dojo, for the children, it’s an aikido intensive that, while it doesn’t involve any overnights, does include shared meals, activities, chores and classes over the course of a long day. This is Sophie’s 4th gasshuku, including the summer aikido camp. She tested for and received her yellow belt at the last one. And for the first time Fiona was welcome to try the gasshuku, provided I could be available to take her home at mid-day if she was running out of steam. She was keen to give it a try.

They started by cleaning the dojo floor, and then with a double class. The first hour was devoted to including the younger children (the age-group Fiona is technically in), the ones not doing the gasshuku. There was a lot of stretching and review of simple skills, and a couple of games. After a quick break the next hour was more focused on practicing and refining skills. I was in the kitchen prepping lunch but I could hear them working really hard. By lunch time they were all rubber-legged.

After lunch they had outdoor activities for an hour or so. Then it was back into the dojo for more skills development. By this time one other under-8 had joined the class, so Fiona had someone a little more her size to work with when partnering up. They worked on balance, stance, focus, co-operating, sensing and responding to partners, wooden sword skills and a variety of throws and movements.

Despite a snowstorm the gasshuku was fairly well-attended. There are two sets of aikido classes in the region taught by the same two sensei, but the dojo near us is the real thing and the kids from the other program love to come out here for special events like this.

At the end of the classes they played some more games like shark, spider tag and sumo, all favourites with the kids. The kids were all dragging by then with rubber legs and sore knees.

The last event of the day is the belt-testing. No one was actually testing for a belt this time, but all students go through the testing for their upcoming level at every gasshuku. Fiona had decided in an advance that she wouldn’t do this part, but when it came time and all the big kids were doing it she just went ahead an did what was in essence mock testing for her yellow belt.

At the end everyone was presented with a certificate of participation and the group photo followed.

Fiona was asleep by the time we got home in the van. A very self-satisfied sleep, though.


6 thoughts on “Gasshuku

  • March 16, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Is Noah still doing Akido? Glad to hear the Sophie and Fiona are enjoying it. Seems like a great resource for a small community.

  • March 16, 2009 at 11:50 am

    No, Noah gave up aikido after the summer break, choosing choir and viola lessons in Calgary as his “personal challenge endeavours” for this year. I would love him to still be doing it, but he seems happiest when he has at least three or four days a week at home without outside committments; aikido would have limited him to one, none on the Calgary weeks.

  • March 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    What a beautiful dojo!! I’ve never seen such a lovely space for martial arts. I would love to learn aikido too but there are no teachers in our area. I do tae kwon do but I would like to branch out more.

  • March 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    It looks and sounds like you’ve got a real gem of a place there.

  • April 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I have recently thought about signing up for aikido, there’s a dojo not too far away. Do you recommend it?

    (If you want to reply by email, the wendy at wisdomofthemoon that shows up on the email notification isn’t working right now, you can reach me at

  • April 18, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Wendy, I highly recommend aikido. It’s been a fabulous fit for our family. If you want to read more about our experience, you can click on the Aikido tag in my blog categories list. The “Aikido Anniversary” post might offer you a bit more insight.

Comments are closed.