Sunday 15th December was the day of yet another E.S.K.K grading with once again, record numbers. So many were challenging their grade this time that the day was split into two; the morning dedicated to the junior red and red stripes and then the afternoon for the seniors and higher grades up to purple belt. This time, I didn't catch the whole thing but got a chance to see most of it, taking part to help a fellow blue belt, and talking with most of the successful candidates as well as Sensei. Here are a few of the quotes I picked up...
"If you saw us smiling at the front during your performance then don't worry, we weren't laughing - We were just so pleased to see such a high standard!" - Part of Sensei's post grading comments.
"That was one of the best performances of Pinan Nidan I've seen" - Lewis Cullen (3rd Kyu) referring to Garat Mair's kata for 7th Kyu.
Lewis is himself accomplished in competition kata and he knows an outstanding performance when he sees one!
"Yeeeeeeessssss...Wooo Hoooooooo...Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Junior, Dominic Mills, as the news of his first class pass to 6th Kyu started to sink in.
Sensei said that Dominic had worked particularly hard in all aspects of his karate since the last grading and he was one of many who had put in so much and contributed to the general high standard on the day. It's fantastic that the dojo has so many enthusiastic young people progressing so passionately. They are a credit to themselves, their parents, the club and the fantastic teachers who train them.
Many of the quotes following the morning session are difficult to put here. They were a combination of tearful congratulations and sighs of relief from very proud parents as well as cheers and laughs from the successful candidates.
Later as the more senior grades were put through their paces, the remaining audience was filled with sharp intakes of breath and winces during the bunkai and sparring sessions, as the candidates put their heart, soul and very all into their performances.
Of particular note were father and son combination, Paul and Ryan Stewart, who demonstrated bunkai as part of challenge for 6th Kyu. A combination of control, power, speed and accuracy gave the audience a very authentic demonstration of some practical applications from Pinan Nidan Kata.
My final quote of the day comes from Terence Ross, grading for 4th Kyu after a gruelling sparring session with "legs only" and as he inspected his feet and shins...
"That's going to be bruised tomorrow!"
Huge congratulations to everyone who achieved their grades - you all helped to end 2013 with a real bang!