On Saturday at our Whitehaven dojo, we presented our 2018 Student of the Year awards to a packed hall of fellow members, parents, friends and supporters. It is with great pleasure to announce that the junior award was given to Euan Renkin-Chare (3rd Kyu) and the senior award to Elaine Ashford (1st Kyu).
Our Student of the Year Award has been running since our group began back in 2004 and is considered both a special honour and great achievement. It is presented to karate students who have shown outstanding qualities and whose commitment, dedication and selflessness act as an inspiration to all other members.
What makes our student of the year award so special is that the final decision is influenced by every member of the group. Each year, a poll is conducted, along with suitability assessments and a dedicated meeting with instructors at our various clubs. Using this information as a guide, our Chief Instructor makes the final decision.
The award is presented "In recognition of displaying exceptional qualities in the dedicated practice of traditional karate, outstanding contributions in support of our dojo and unwavering commitment towards ongoing personal development, standing as fine inspiration for others to follow."
As part of our awards poll, we also asked members to select a local and national charity close to their hearts. The selections are compiled and placed into a box for one of each to be chosen at random by our new winners. The two charities will receive a sizeable donation from our Community Fund.
The charities chosen this year were:
More information about these charity donations will be released in a future news piece.
On behalf of everyone in the group, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both Elaine and Euan on achieving our 2018 Student of the Year Award and their lifelong induction into our our dojo Hall of Fame. We'd also like to thank everyone who took time out of their day to take part in our awards presentation - your support is always very much appreciated.
Next year for our 15th Anniversary we'll be making some changes to our annual awards presentation and due to our membership growth in recent years, offering individual club accolades alongside Student of the Year. Keep your eyes peeled for these exciting developments!
We were very proud to award eight grade promotions yesterday evening following assessment at our Cleator dojo. As usual, everyone worked exceptionally hard to prepare for the event and it was a pleasure to see that work paying off.
A special mention goes to 6-year old Reggie McGrady who was unsuccessful at his last grading, but has been single-minded every week since to improve. And what an improvement it was - he should be very proud of himself, as I'm sure his parents are!
Also, special congratulations goes out to Christine Coleman, who I'm sure won't mind us mentioning that even at 69-years young, she is still pushing boundaries and taking on new challenges - what an inspiration!
Both Reggie and Christine clearly show that the benefits of traditional karate training can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone and exemplify perfectly the strong ethos we share at our dojo.
Congratulations to you all and see you back in class again soon :-)
PROMOTION TO 9TH KYU (RED BELT):
PROMOTION TO 8TH KYU (YELLOW BELT):
PROMOTION TO 6TH KYU (GREEN BELT):
We are blessed in our dojo to have so many hard working members who give it their all during every training session. They help inspire and encourage others so that everyone grows together. Our grading today showed not only high levels of spirit and determination, but also examples of the close family bond that makes what we do so very special.
There were some sterling performances, some inner demons battled, some results celebrated and as is inevitable at these events, a small number of disappointments too. However, these were accepted with heads held high and a sense of determination to fight again another day. The grading panel members couldn't be prouder!
Congratulations to everyone who challenged their rank today - you have our utmost respect.
Big thanks also to panel members and assistants who gave up their day to support the grading and helped to make sure that the schedule could run as smooth as possible. Your efforts were much appreciated.
Official results below :-)
As our curriculum is based on a progressive rotating framework, we normally hold a 'catch up' grading around one month after our three main annual gradings. These catch up gradings are for members who either (1) were working hard towards the main grading, but unable to attend due to extenuating circumstances or (2) were unsuccessful at the main grading and invited to re-sit after a period of focused training and mentor-ship.
This week, we held two 'catch up' gradings. The first was on Sunday 10th December at our Cleator dojo and we also held a special 'double grading' on 13th December at our relatively new Great Clifton dojo, specifically for members who had transferred to us from the previous Shotokan dojo that used to practice there.
The prospect of transferring styles is not easy and proved a little too daunting for many. But for those who took on the challenge to continue their martial arts journey with us at Great Clifton made us very proud yesterday and we welcome you all into our intermediate ranks.
Big congratulations to everyone who graded this week and we hope that the experience will inspire further development along your karate path in 2018!
Congratulations to almost 60 of our karate members who stepped up to challenge their next rank at our grade examination yesterday. Gradings in our dojo are never easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is and so it was fantastic to see plenty of determination, along with some spectacular performances!
We make no apologies for our standards being high and whether successful or unsuccessful, the reward is always the same...more training! So regardless of personal outcome, so long as you honestly gave it your all then you will always earn our utmost respect.
Official results are as below - see you back in the dojo again soon to continue your karate journey,
Last weekend, 25 senior members, assistants and instructors from our 7 dojo locations came together at the wonderful Crown Hotel in Wetheral for three days of intensive martial arts and fitness training.
This was our 13th Annual Training Camp and as in all previous years, there was no shortage of effort, enthusiasm and camaraderie. Sessions were numerous, frequent and demanding, and by Sunday afternoon, despite being completely exhausted, everyone travelled home with both a sense of real achievement and a beaming smile on their face.
Topics over the weekend included advanced kata, bunkai, ground fighting techniques, pad work and attribute development, Naihanchi combatives, kettlebell training, two-person flow drills and tactile based 'sticky hands' training. fitness and conditioning, self-protection principles and counter weapons training.
Rather than post up a bunch of pictures, here's a quick video montage showing just some of the stuff we covered throughout the event...
As always, it was a pleasure to have shared the weekend with such an enthusiastic group of members and I'm looking forward to putting plans in place for next year's event already!
As well as participants, a big thank you also goes out to instructors and assistants for their excellent contributions to the weekend schedule, plus the Crown Hotel staff for making us feel so welcome. As always, the venue, facilities and food were amazing.
Yesterday evening we were once again honoured to have spent the evening with Aikido teacher Ishizaki Yoshiyuki from Fukushima, Japan. He was on business here in West Cumbria and had personally requested that we meet up again to mutually share our martial arts. We were only to pleased to host him and his colleagues on behalf of Sellafield Ltd.
Ishizaki Sensei took to the tatami first and gave everyone a skillful demonstration and accompanying lecture on the fundamentals of Aikido. He talked about basic techniques, manipulation of the receivers energy through subtle body movements and focused heavily on breathing and relaxation to help develop the seika tanden (body core). He emphasised that Aikido was an art of peace and aimed to cause only the minimum of discomfort to the opponent necessary to make good your escape in self-defence.
Our Chief Instructor, Chris Denwood, followed Ishizaki Sensei and along with fellow Toku Sei Kan members, presented a similar demonstration and lecture on the underlying principles of Koryu Karate. In particular, he aimed to emphasise a relationship and what he felt were key similarities between Aikido and karate - two arts that are often considered very different. He and his team performed basic techniques, kata and bunkai, power generation, hojo undo and finished with a demonstration of karate's joint attacks, throws and take-downs from a tactile-based muchimi-di (sticky hands) framework.
The key message conveyed through both demonstrations was that although on the surface these look like diverse arts, Aikido and Karate still share a number of common principles and methodologies central to the way in which they are expressed and utilised.
Like our first experience with Ishizaki Sensei last year, we were once again able to see his wonderful and graceful art of Aikido and also showcase some key aspects of Toku Sei Kan (the derivative of Okinawan traditional karate we practice at our dojo).
Ishizaki Sensei seemed very pleased with how it went and needless to say, so were we!
The exchange of gifts and photo session afterwards brought out huge smiles on all sides and Ishizaki Sensei’s parting words eloquently reflected how we all felt. He said:
“We may be geographically separated by thousands of miles, but we are nevertheless joined in spirit through our mutual passion and devotion to martial arts”
We all agreed with his further sentiment that "Martial arts reflect and impact every aspect of our lives, not just what we do in the dojo, and that our martial arts journeys are a life-long endeavour."
We have, without any doubt, strengthened the bond of friendship we forged when we first hosted Ishizaki Sensei last year. And whilst it remained very formal and within the expected etiquette, there was still a very palpable warmth to the visit this year and Ishizaki Sensei's sense of humour also shone through. Smiles do not need a translator for us to understand!
Special thanks go to David Forsythe, Peter Hinde, Claire James, Bernie Coombe and David Glaister for helping to organise the event, ensure a suitable venue and making sure that tatami mats were collected and delivered in good time. Thanks also to E.S.K.K members for taking time out to support the event, being part of our demo team and representing our dojo with the high standards we've come to expect.
We hope that Ishizaki will once again leave the country with a positive impression of our approach to traditional karate here in West Cumbria, we wish him and his colleagues a safe flight back to Japan and we are all looking forward to seeing them again in the near future!
In the four years that the 100-Kata Challenge has taken place, we've always completed it with pride and have even made it part of our official list of annual events.
This year was no different, where 25 keen dojo members came together to work hard in homage to Karate Day and in respect to the pioneering karate masters of our past, who paved the way for us to benefit from the art today. The 100 Kata Challenge also connects karate practitioners from all over the globe through a mutual goal and to remind us all that we are but one family. As always, we were honoured to take part.
The challenge is normally performed on Karate Day, which remembers the Meeting of the Masters, which took place on October 25th 1936. Our event began at 6:30pm on Tuesday 24th October at the Reformed Chruch Hall in Whitehaven. This year, we decided to up the intensity a little by performing 10 full burpees after each set of 10 Naihanchi Kata. This gave us a grand total of 100-Kata and 100-Burpees. This added physical challenge forced us to dig deep and with the associated muscular fatigue, rely more on efficient body mechanics during the kata performance. An added bonus to the challenge and a valuable lesson to take away.
Performing so many kata within the same session also allows you to become very mindful of specific nuances and offers you the chance to experiment with various adjustments and evaluate different elements within the choreography. For us, mindlessly repeating kata simply for the sake of reaching 100 is not the way to approach this challenge. For us, it proves to be a very valuable learning opportunity and certainly for me, each time I complete it I learn something new.
This year's group was a healthy mix of 100-Kata veterans and a few first-timers who weren't exactly sure what to expect. This feeling was compounded after mentioning to the group that we'll be adding a few burpees to the mix too! As I expected, everyone gave it their all and although a few were unable to complete our 'burpee challenge' due to fatigue or injury, everyone still managed to tally their 100-Kata! Before we finished, we added an extra kata at the end for our dojo, which was performed with strength, enthusiasm and pride. As chief instructor, this was a wonderful sight to see!
As part of this event, participants have been gaining sponsorship for our community fund raising activities. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause then please catch up with one of the participants in class, or drop us a line. All donations are gratefully received.
Congratulations to all our members who completed the challenge this year and special thanks to Paul and Linda MIlls, who tallied up the numbers whilst we were all otherwise engaged. Well done also to all our karate family from around the world who joined us and worked hard in celebration of Karate Day 2017!
Last month we held our very first junior summer school, where we took a range of children of all ages and experiences from our various karate clubs to spend a week covering a whole variety of topics including technique-based lessons, fitness sessions, pad-work & sparring, weapons, fight scene choreography, karate history and much more!
We also incorporated elements on self-defence, anti-bullying, leadership and teamwork, inspiring both confidence and self-esteem for holistic life-skill development.
The week concluded on Friday evening with a special demonstration for parents and family, where children showcased some of the key skills and lessons they learned throughout the week.
We were incredibly amazed at how hard the children worked, the challenges they all undertook and some of the personal barriers broken down in only a matter of hours. To say that we're proud of them is bit of an understatement!
As well as all the excellent comments we received from the kids, we also had parents send us some nice messages too...
You can't put a price on your child's safety. At the summer school, Chris & Jenny combined discipline and respect along with anti-bullying, anti-abduction, weapons training and self-defence. During the week, my daughter grew in both confidence and character. At E.S.K.K Martial Arts & Fitness, Children are being taught valuable skills whilst having fun at the same time. That in itself is priceless!
â- Gillian Harvey (Frizington)
My son enrolled for karate summer school this year nervously. He soon realised that he shouldn't have worried as he found the week interesting, exciting and empowering. Every day was different, and he learnt a range of skills including specific karate routines and movements, and also self awareness and self defence techniques. The week ended with an opportunity for families to watch the children demonstrating their skills. It was lovely to see how much they had all enjoyed themselves and how much they had learnt together.
- Sarah Stevenson (Workington)
I asked my son what he thought about the summer school and he said if it was stars it would be ten hundred thousand million billion trillion! He loved the weapons training, fight choreography and anti abduction tactics. He learned lots of new skills, which have strengthened his confidence and self-belief. He couldn't wait to come to class each day and even though he didn't know anyone he was made to feel very welcome and part of the team. We feel it was a fantastic opportunity for him, we're proud of what he learned and looking forward to next year already!
- Carolyn Wareing (Workington)
Zack really enjoyed the summer school. It has helped him improve his karate. He was shattered every night from training hard but the sessions were just the right length. We were very proud to see what he had learnt in the excellent demonstration at the end of the week.
- Jonny & Rhea Evans (Whitehaven)
We were very impressed with the summer school program that our daughter Maddison attend with you. I have already told a few friends and encouraged them to join the club with their families. I know Maddison loved making up a kata which brought a sense of imagination and independence to Karate. She also enjoyed learning the weapons. As a parent the anti-bully and abduction training was brilliant and this is so important for both kids and parents alike. Thank you for all the time and effort that you put in to making this event a success. It really showed!
- Steve & Danette Bostock (Cockermouth)
The boys thoroughly enjoyed karate camp and they were keen to share with us what they had been learning after day one. They particularly enjoyed weapons training, spin kicks and putting together their demo piece for all spectators to see. As parents we were pleased with the topics covered such as anti bullying and self defence/child abduction techniques. A great action packed week, thanks E.S.K.K - The boys will be back next summer for more.
- Robert & Nisha Merrett (Egremont)
Check out the short video below that shows some clips from the final day demonstration that was presented to parents and family members...
A massive thank you to all participants for their hard work and enthusiasm, parents and family for supporting the event, Moresby School for kindly allowing us to use their venue and not forgetting E.S.K.K member David Woodburn for his invaluable assistance during the week.
âWatch this space in 2018 :-)
Samuel Bailey is 11 years old and has been practising karate with us since last summer. He regularly attends at our Gosforth club and has reached the rank of Orange Stripe. Respectful, hard working and committed, it is a pleasure to have Samuel in the dojo and share some of his thoughts here in his members spotlight!
Why did you start karate?
I first started karate because I wanted to try out something new and was encouraged by my best friend who already attended class.
What do you enjoy most about our club?
I enjoy everything about my training, from the new friendships I've made to the discipline expected in the dojo.
What benefits have you gained from regular training?
I've found that regular training helps me to learn new techniques quicker and being part of special events like the junior summer school means that I can try out lots of new things like board breaking, weapons and demo preparation.
What goals do you have for the future?
My goals are to keep on learning and gaining in strength and techniques.
What message would you give to others who may be looking to start martial arts training?
I have a hoodie which states "A black belt is a white belt who never gave up". All you have to do is keep trying, so I'd recommend anyone to come and give it a go - it's great fun!
Samuel's mum Vicki is also a keen supporter of the work we do with children...
"Since Samuel has started karate he has gained in confidence throughout everyday life. He seems to thrive on the discipline aspects of the dojo and always tries to show respect to other members of the group, from beginner to teacher alike. He recently attended summer school where he was taught personal safety skills and anti-abduction tactics, which I felt were very important for children to learn and a great addition to the schedule. Samuel absolutely loves his time in the dojo and as a parent, it's great to see his skills constantly developing."
Fancy trying out one of our karate classes?