There were some palpable nerves on display in the club on the run up to the Grading Course last weekend. In addition to our usual gradings for Karate-ka who are progressing through the KYU grades, Ben was attempting his Shodan Grading and was noticeably on edge.
The grading day could have started better as Brenda Sensei was feeling poorly and could not attend, although she was there in spirit to encourage everyone on the course.
We also had a message from Zane’s father, who couldn’t get to the course due the storms and this would mean that Zane would have to miss out on the grading that he had been working so hard to get ready for. However, within a very short time Mike Sensei had offered to take them both to the grading and Phillipa had offered to wait around after Daniel’s grading had finished to give them both a lift home. This is one of the thing I love about our club – we look after our karate family and are always willing to help each other!
The course soon smoothly got under way, with Alan Sensei and Matt Sensei from Selby taking the first session. It soon became evident that this would be a very busy and successful course for us as there were a large number of karate-ka from other clubs attempt all or part of their Shodan Grading.
As always, I was busy on reception and didn’t get chance to take part in the early training, or see the early gradings, but I did manage to join the very full senior class for their training.
The senior class was divided between our two guest instructors: Alan Campbell Sensei (7th Dan, and Head of JKS England) and Steve Carless Sensei (6th Dan JKS). As I trained with Alan Sensei I did not get the chance to notice what Steve Sensei covered, however everyone I spoke to after the course who was in Steve Sensei’s session thoroughly enjoyed it
Alan Sensei focused on the fine detail of karate trying to pick out what differentiates the karate of the senior Dan grades from the karate of junior Dan grades. We started off with looking at Zenkutsu Dachi (front stance) and the importance of only rotating your feet on the heel and not the ball when stepping forwards and backwards, and then of correct hikite. We then moved onto do kumite and close range drills which emphasised relaxation and closing distance using the legs rather than the upper half of the body and finished off with a very detailed examination of Jion. All in all an excellent session.
As usual the grading took place throughout the day, all very well organised by Paul Sensei. It proved to be a very successful day for the club, below are just some of successful and happy members with their grading certificates!
We would like to thank everyone who traveled to our course, it was great to see so many Karate-ka from so many different courses in attendance, and as Alan Sensei mentioned it was good to see so many Senior Instructors training in the line on the course.
With the training over it was time for the Dan gradings, and there were quite a few this time, with 15 people attempting all or part of the grading. All eyes (from our club anyway) were on Ben! After some very solid kumite performances against a variety of opponents Ben moved onto the Kihon Section. Ben made a mistake during his one of his kihon combinations, I am not mentioning this to embarrass him, but he kept his composure, and carried on. The group he was with were simply asked to repeat that combination, which he did with determination. There is an important lesson here – if you make a mistake during a grading, do not draw attention to it, or give up – simply carry on as best you can – as long as your karate is of the right quality and spirit you will be forgiven a mistake or two.
This was the case with Ben as after performing Kanku Dai as his chosen kata (on his own) and the other kata as a group it was announce that he had been successful – SHODAN PASS! Congratulations Ben, I know that like many of us you see this as the start of your karate journey, and we look forward to accompanying you.
It was also great to see David from Selby be successful – David has been visiting our club for a number of weeks for extra training in preparation for his grading, and this dedication and determination paid off handsomely.
Finally, and as always, thank you to Paul Sensei for his exceptional organisational skills.