By Connie Borden
Why attend an international gasshuku?
My thanks to Dan for bringing the beginner’s mind to our practice by asking this question!
As we explore reasons to attend an international gasshuku, the answers will be as varied as our practitioners. In the early years of Shintaido, a main reason to attend was to practice with the founder, Aoki Sensei. Now as Shintaido moves into the next phase of growth, the reasons are numerous.
One attractive feature is the ‘coming together under one roof’ – the literal meaning of the word gasshuku. For three days, people from around the world gather and form an instant community to express the creative, personal and transformative nature of Shintaido. The opportunity to gather in-person and connect through a body movement practice meets an essential human need that goes beyond the electronic connections made by social media.
At an international gasshuku a person can observe examinations at the San Dan, Yon Dan and sometimes go-dan levels. These examinations normally only occur every four years and provide a rich study for everyone present. A person can meet people from many different countries and make new friends. For others, returning to a gasshuku can reunite people who might only see each other every four years. They often say they immediately reconnect without any feeling of passage of time or space because of the practice of Shintaido.
Another reason to attend is to rejuvenate and reenergize through practice with the international community. For many, they practice or teach in areas removed from larger communities so that to gather together provides important enrichment and preparation for ongoing study in the coming years.
Lastly, this year Ito Sensei will direct the keiko and share his rich background with a life dedicated to Shintaido. The opportunity to receive his teachings is always a valuable experience, and to study in Japan with the international community promises a unique moment not to be missed.