Sunday 11th March brought many dojo members together again at the larger venue in Cleator to witness a host of junior and senior karate-ka challenge their next rank.
As usual, those who turned out to watch and support those taking the challenge were treated to an impressive and truly inspirational sight. Those relatively new to group and the world of traditional karate challenging for their first grade (red and red stripe) opened up proceedings with an impressive display of enthusiasm, determination and the joy of newly learned skills.
The next group were a mix of juniors and seniors challenging for 8th kyu (yellow belt). Friends and family looked on in respectful silence as Sensei Chris Denwood called out the commands for the standing basics, moving basics and combinations. With focus in their eyes and beads of sweat on their brows, each karate-ka dutifully gave their all to respond to each command at their very best. Challengers for 8th kyu were required to perform the kata Naihanchi and the onlookers were treated to a wonderful formation display. Energy levels then peaked as the challengers were put through their paces in partner work including a demonstration of impact training with pads. Then it was time to pause and wait to see who had met grade. To the joy of proud friends and parents looking on, members got their chance to collect their new belt and certificate from Sensei.
As Afternoon headed towards early evening, the final group to take to the floor were the juniors and seniors challenging for 7th kyu (orange) and above. Among this group were junior Phoebe Forster and senior Lewis Cullen challenging for 6th kyu (green belt) and 3rd kyu (brown belt) respectively. By the end of the grading the remaining spectators and supporters had been treated to some fantastic displays of all the basics, another formation Naihanchi and individual kata performances from the Pinan series too. Of particular note was a very impressive display of precision and determination from young Phoebe including a very focussed performance of Pinan Shodan Kata. Her overall grading earned her a first class pass - a level reserved only for those who excel to the very highest standard.
Also falling into the 'extremely impressive' category was Lewis Cullen's journey to 3rd Kyu (brown belt). We were all treated to a very dramatic final spirit trial as Lewis endured a punishing series of close range contact sparring with the senior grades. It was clear that Lewis's spirit had been tested to the very limit and he had needed to dig deep and call upon all of his strength of character to push on and simply refuse to give up. Such resilience is the very essence of what traditional karate is all about and I hope I can speak for the whole group in congratulating Lewis on achieving his 3rd kyu. Congratulations are in order too for young Phoebe and all those who were capable enough to earn their new belts this time round.
The next Grading is scheduled for June and I hope we will all be treated to more of the same. No doubt It will be equally impressive and as always, be helped by the support from other members, friends and family who come along to watch and give encouragement. This is what our group is all about!
E.S.K.K News Editor
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