On Tuesday 25th February, a grade examination was held at the Arlecdon dojo for those challenging brown belt ranks. By virtue of these being the senior Kyu ranks and close to that a very significant milestone of first Dan (Black Belt), they take a little longer and need very focussed attention from the grading panel. The pair challenging 3rd kyu and the pair challenging 2nd kyu were therefore given the opportunity to grade at what is usually the venue for our closed dojo at the weekly slot for that class.
Now by the time members of our group reach the stage where they are ready to challenge senior kyu ranks they have already travelled a fair distance along on their karate path and this time as Lewis Cullen, John Smallman, Peter Hinde and Dave Parker bowed in, there was already something approaching a combined 30 years of travelling behind them. Many members of the closed dojo and the open dojo's had come along for support and while the number grading was much less than our standard events, the anticipation, tension, excitement and expectation created the most amazing atmosphere.
I think it fair to say that the audience were treated to a remarkable display of effort and focus with a number of outstanding individual performances, as the panel put them to the test. From the sheer power and mental intent displayed from fundamental techniques to the elegance of kata performances, the audience was captivated. From the exquisite choreography and symmetry of the pre-arranged kumite to the raw demonstrations of power generation in pad work and live drilling, the spectators were enthralled. From the control and precision shown in bunkai demonstrations to the sheer spirit to fight through the exhausting and mentally draining sparring sessions, the onlookers were inspired.
Now, at every training session and every grading those that practice the wonderful art of traditional karate take a few more steps along that seemingly endless journey of growth. Each of those steps form a part of the experience, learning and knowledge that will be called upon many times over as further steps are taken. Indeed, there are no wasted steps on journeys like these.
I was proud to have witnessed the four challengers all take some very impressive steps on Tuesday night. Congratulations on behalf of the whole group to Peter Hinde and Dave Parker for advancing to 3rd kyu and a huge "well done" to all four for such an amazing performance.