IOGKF Slovakia ‘Twin city’ Gasshuku with
Sensei Bakkies Laubscher

By: Sensei Raoul Vogel – Austrian Chief & Sensei Igor Vakos – Slovakia Rep.

Sensei Bakkies Laubscher returned to Slovakia for the 2nd twin city Gasshuku, which combines the organization of our Austrian and Slovakian family. Sensei Bakkies was again well received and lived up to his expectation as one of the best teachers of traditional Karate-do…

In 2009 IOGKF Austria and IOGKF Slovakia organized the first Twin City Gasshuku – a major undertaking for 2 small organisations. Fortunately the event was a resounding success and the organizers decided to arrange the 2nd Twin City Gasshuku between 1 and 3 April 2011.

As the guest instructor, we invited Shihan Bakkies Laubscher (8th Dan, Chief instructor of IOGKF South Africa, IOGKF technical advisor and member of Honbu Dojo Grading Panel), the most senior student of Goju Ryu legend, Shihan Morio Higaonna and a great man and karate-ka.

On Thursday we met Bakkies Sensei at the Vienna airport and drove straight to Senec, the location of our Gasshuku, approx 20km from Bratislava. After the long flight and a quick dinner of Slovakian cuisine, an early night followed. The next morning we visited the Bratislava castle and enjoyed the stunning view over the city, which traces its origins back to Celtic times. At the main train station we met the IOGKF Romania representative Victor Popa and continued to tour the old historical center of Bratislava, where we also stayed for lunch.

The weekend’s training commenced on Friday evening with a Black & Brown belt session. Participants expecting Okinawa Goju ryu Karate as practiced by the old masters, truly got their money’s worth. During the three days, Bakkies Sensei led about 60 participants from the Czech Republic, Romania, Austria and Slovakia through Kihon, Ido Kihon, Kata and some challenging and practically useful Ippon Kumite techniques. Bakkies Sensei proved again how accurate he is and how his teachings focus on even the smallest detail. Sensei explained in detail the tension in the body, the exact path and purpose of techniques and proper focus of each technique – simply put, everything that makes a perfect technique. The participants showed intense effort, dedication and a strong will to improve their karate to the highest level possible.

After the hard and challenging training nourishment was definitely needed and we met on Saturday evening for dinner, where everyone enjoyed traditional Slovak hospitality, good food, cold beer, some soft drinks, Slovak wines and of course the great company of the participants of the 2nd Twin City Gasshuku. The event organizers, Sensei Raoul Vogel (6th Dan, Chief Instructor of IOGKF Austria) and Sensei Igor Vakoš (3rd Dan, IOGKF representative in Slovakia) expressed a big thank you to Bakkies Sensei, but also to the participants of the Gasshuku. In turn, Bakkies Sensei thanked them and expressed his pleasure with the rising standard of Karate and the growth of the 2 organizations. The event extended late into the evening and allowed the participants to get to know each other outside the dojo.

The last day of the Gasshuku was marked by mild nervousness. After the morning training and the traditional photo shoots Black and Brown belt grading tests followed. The long weekend’s grueling training did not prevent Bakkies Sensei from taking the candidates through the entire grading syllabus. After another 2 hours the tired candidates awaited their results. A resounding success – all candidates had passed the grading tests! We congratulate the following persons:

  • Ilona Szöcs – 3rd Dan
  • Igor Vakos – 3rd Dan
  • Michal Macak – 3rd Dan
  • Ludwig Franz – 2nd Dan
  • Mario Hackl – 2nd Dan
  • Thomas Steindl – 2nd Dan
  • Thanassi Stellatos - 1st Dan
  • Michael Eisenmenger – 1st Kyu
  • Georg Möstl - 2nd Kyu
  • Gerold Linzner – 2nd Kyu

Bakkies Sensei’s visit in our region continued on the next day with a pleasant walk through the forests and mountains of the Small Carpathians ending on a look-out tower allowing spectacular views over the wine region of Modra. Back in Vienna we concluded the day in a traditional Viennese ‘Heurigen’ restaurant. In Vienna the stunning Stephansdom with spectacular views over the city from the bell tower together with the historical library, the well-known Lippizaner horses and the inner city with Roman and Celtic origins concluded the attractions.

The next day we visited the impressive former imperial residence Schönbrunn with its fantastic gardens. All too soon we had to leave for the airport where we said our farewells to Bakkies Sensei.

We would like to thank Bakkies Sensei for a great Gasshuku and the organizers and silent helpers, as well as, all participants for making this event possible in a unique project showing true cooperation between two IOGKF organizations, IOGKF Austria and IOGKF Dojo Slovakia .

The 2nd Twin City Gasshuku is now a memory, but we are already looking forward to the 3rd Twin City Gasshuku, which will hopefully continue to strengthen Okinawa Goju ryu Karate-Do in the heart of Central and Eastern Europe.