The small mountain village of Tollos was the venue for the first Washinkai Karate España Summer Gasshuku. Located an hour and half inland and at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level the site offers a unique environment to practise karate. The Gasshuku started on the Monday 27th July 2015 and lasted until the following Thursday evening. Dates were chosen so as not to clash with the British Summer Gasshuku, should students want to participate in both.
Some of the students arrived early for the local fiesta which took place over the weekend. Live music and dancing were the main event but also an afternoon of music from the Town Band. They played traditional tunes as they marched around the village and ended up seated around a large table in the Town Hall which had been set with food and drinks provided by local residents. Every now and again they would start a tune and the residents would join in with the singing before continuing with the meal.
The idea of a summer Gasshuku came about because many students wanted to continue with karate during the summer but could not afford to travel to the UK for the summer event there. The price was set as low as possible, being 160 euros including all the food, training and camping, but combined with a couple of nights stay in one of two Casas Rurales.
Tollos was chosen because the Municipal Swimming Pool and its facilities were made available for the club. During the hours that the pool was closed to the public, the students were able to train on the terraces alongside the pool and then cool off afterwards for a swim. A small bar next door provided the meals for the students including breakfast, lunch and an evening meal as well as refreshments throughout the day. The food was just fine and even the vegetarians amongst the group were well catered for.
Lead instructor Sensei Geovanny Sanchez Salazar had planned a full itinerary of events including a well attended free self defence class for the town residents. The first day after checking in students went on a short hike to one of the elevated Barancals or almond and fruit orchards. There they played games and trained in basic Kihon (kicking and punching techniques) under the shade of the trees. Afterwards, time was made available to relax by the pool and later watch a karate movie outside on the terrace next to the Casa Rural.
Each day brought something new including a night time walk up a mountain road to the Boca de Barancal to view the star constellations away from any light pollution of the village. The night time air in Tollos was a little cooler than on the coast and the haunting sounds of the crickets and owls provided an eerie backdrop to the stories of highwaymen and robbers. According to local legend, there would also be ghosts who could spring out and surprise those who were brave enough to travel in the dark on such a remote trail.
In addition to the traditional karate training the group were joined by a local instructor called Carol who took the students through some of the techniques of Yoga. Richard Bliss, a Tollos resident and Washinkai Black Belt also taught the class some of the basic techniques of Tai Chi some of which are used within our own style of karate.
The last night was spent away from the casa rural, setting up the tents for a night under canvas and the stars. However, first in what appears to be a Washinkai Summer School tradition, a small fancy dress party by the pool with music. Students later returned to the camp site and played cards and chat until the small hours.
The last day the group broke camp and got ready to return home, but first a presentation of the certificates of attendance from the Mayor of Tollos. Many of the town’s people came out to see us and say goodbye. Speaking personally, I felt a little sad to be leaving a tiny oasis of tranquillity to return to the bustle of Jávea on the coast during peak holiday season. Tollos only has 39 full time residents, but in the short time we were there, I think it is fair to say that they got to know us and were welcoming in a way that you would not find in the bigger cities. The name Washinkai Karate is now well known in the area and we are looking forward to returning next year.
It should be said that none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Senior Instructor Geovanny Sanchez Salazar. In addition to teaching both students and some of the local residents, he planned the whole event and worked hard to ensure the safety of all those that took part. We also thank Richard Bliss who liaised with local residents and gave up his home to provide accommodation and entertainment.
Taking part in the course were: Sensei Geovanny Sanchez Salizar, Richard Bliss, Lawrence Phillips, Elliot Morton, Oscar Morton, Heather Morton, Al Morton, Lucas Muniz Tellecher, Nicholas Cannon, Harry Gillies Ripoll, Stella Simons, Sissia Simons, Joshua Higginsson, Gemma Ashworth, Andres Miralles Garcia, Alex Sanchez, Africa, Maria and Carol.