by Bill Handren
"I want to thank all of the black belts who traveled to Springfield, Illinois to make our workout a great success and the GKK for their wonderful support. If it weren't for the GKK, our workout would not have been possible. The GKK is there if you just reach out and show you truly want to be part of the organization. We are truly a family. So, if you're thinking of joining the GKK, I hope you read this and understand they will be there to help you any way they can." - Kim Barrington, Springfield Goju- Ryu
On December 10th and 11th, the Springfield Goju-Ryu held its first GKK Workout. There was over 300 years of combined experience by the dan grades who attended, and each contributed to this workout. Senseis Ken Maunz, Diane and Jim Jackson, Angie Monday, Dwight Scales, and Ed Myers traveled over six hours to attend the workout. Sensei Ray Walter drove up from the St. Louis area. Senseis Dave Shaneman, Ed Boyd, Gary Mazzotti, Kim Barrington and Deb Crawford of the Springfield Goju-Ryu hosted the event.
Friday evening was a black belt session. Each member demonstrated kata and the other members critiqued. Bunkai were also covered.
Saturday began with a children's class taught by senesis Maunz and Monday. After watching how much fun the children had, I'm pretty sure they will choose karate over Chuck-E-Cheese if given a choice. It takes a special skill to keep the little ones interested and enthused. Most impressive. While the children's class was being taught, the other black belts gathered in the racquetball court to work on kata and exchange evaluations and tips.
After the children were dismissed, everyone moved into the basketball court and broke into groups. Some teachers worked with the green belts, some with the brown belts and some worked on group kata. No one was really in charge. Each took a turn leading and offering his or her observations. This is what made the workout so enjoyable. There was so much going on at the same time, it was almost too much to take in.
During the group kata, two members would do a kata at the same time so everyone could see the differences in performance. This brought to light how each performer adds his or her emphasis on where speed and power are applied.
After lunch, the rest of the workout was conducted in the Training Room. Nearly four hours of demonstration, critique and insights. Each member took a turn demonstrating a bunkai which was then practiced by the group. Since takedown mats were set up, a good amount of time was spent on ground techniques. An interesting exercise was slow sparring which allowed the members to use techniques which are normally not practiced in kumite because of the risk of injury. Around five PM, the workout ended, group photos were taken and all went out for dinner at Kiku Sushi and Steakhouse.