The photo above has captured a very special moment just after the senior grading on Tuesday 25th February when our chief instructor, Sensei Chris Denwood, was presented with his 5th Dan Award by his longest serving student and lifelong friend, Peter Sempie. The presentation was a complete surprise to all the members and spectators present, not to mention a total bolt from the blue for Chris.
A couple of our senior members, most notably Terry Ross, along with help from Peter, had secretly approached our governing body, The Federation of English Karate Organisations (F.E.K.O), to present a formal case for their executive committee to consider awarding a 5th Dan rank to Chris.
In our style of karate, grades up to 3rd Dan are awarded based on technical examination in front of a panel against a set syllabus. Senior ranks of 4th Dan and above are honorary grades, which are awarded in recognition of achievements, ongoing personal development and contribution of skill, knowledge, loyalty and experience in Karate for the betterment of others at local, national and international levels. These senior ranks are subject to the judgement of seniors, peers and national governing bodies.
Terry (himself a 4th Dan teacher at his Lancaster Kentai Karate club and now a rapidly ascending student at our E.S.K.K dojo), spoke for us all at when he put forward his letter to F.E.K.O:
"Chris has dedicated his life to his own personal study and growth in traditional karate. His skills in the art are very impressive and on this fact alone, I beleive he is worthy of 5th Dan. However, that is only a small portion of what Chris is all about. He has a deep passion to understand the traditional side of karate and to pass on this knowledge as an inspirational teacher, renowned author and producer of quality instructional DVD's. His body of work for such a young man once again warrants a grade promotion in my honest opinion. Chris' passion, knowledge and his thoughtful approach to our beloved art is comparable to that of many esteemed Sensei with whom I have trained under for many years. Chris was also inducted into the Martial Arts Combat Hall of Fame in 2011, which again shows how well his commitment to the betterment of karate has been received by others and tells of their opinion of Chris too."
Terry didn't need to mention the sterling work Chris has undertaken within his own local community to promote the benefits of martial arts, representing traditional karate at international expos for many years, travelling to Okinawa in order to seek tuition at the very birthplace of our art and indeed, his commitment to the growth and development of E.S.K.K Martial Arts and Fitness, recently giving up a twenty year career in engineering to pursue the study of karate full-time.
To many of us, Chris is a great friend. To all of our members, he is an inspiration and a fantastic role model. His award of 5th Dan is a fitting reflection of all his hard work, dedication and the support he gives to all of us who are privileged to be his students.
Chris is just about the most humble person I know and is incredibly modest about his achievements. He does not seek accolades - only personal growth for himself and his students. It is therefore also very fitting that the most senior of his students have helped make such recognition a reality. I hope you all will join them and me in saying...
Congratulations Sensei - we are all very proud of you!