It's grading time again! On Sunday 9th June, The E.S.K.K dojo once again saw a fantastic turn-out of juniors and seniors to challenge their grade with support from many parents, friends and other members of the group.
The "family" feel that is so important to our group was felt by all as the preparation lesson and practice got under way at 1 p.m. Gradings can be a nervous time for even the most experienced karate-ka and for many, this was their first ever taste. It was fantastic to see then, the usual help, guidance and support given by sempai and kohai alike to the forty two hopefuls as they tried to focus themselves on the upcoming challenge ahead.
As usual the the challengers for red stripe and red belt (provisional and full 9th Kyu) made up the first gradings. These totalled almost half the overall number grading and with so many taking part, the audience of friends and family and those waiting for their own turn filled all the available rows of seats at the back of the room. It was a warm day, the temperature in the room was climbing and the air of anticipation rose to match it. Dealing with the "pressure" of such a large audience is a big ask for a first grading, especially for the younger juniors, but is all part of the personal growth that such a challenge brings. This was evident in abundance as the audience were treated to a very high standard display as Sensei put them all through their paces.
It is encouraging to see for the growth of the dojo (and not to mention our heartfelt contribution to traditional karate) that with the help and support of their instructors, so many have worked so hard so early on their karate journey. The results are listed below and most notably, Garet Mair (Senior full 9th Kyu) and Rowan Morgan (Junior full 9th Kyu) both achieved first class passes which, as the name suggests, are reserved for only the most exceptional performances. They showed not only excellent techniques but also an attitude and spirit befitting someone determined to overcome the challenge set before them - congratulations!
The next two gradings covered those juniors and seniors challenging yellow stripe/belt and orange stripe/belt. It was pleasing to see the audience numbers remain high and once again all the members present, stepped onto the floor during the short interval, to help everyone with last minute practice, calming of nerves and general support. Once under way, both gradings were noted by the grading panel as having "raised the bar" yet again. As with the earlier gradings, it was pleasing to see so many progressing through the ranks and continuing on their karate journeys. A very healthy sign indeed for our dojo and all that it stands for.
The last group to grade were those aiming for green/blue/purple belts. As the grades progress, the demand and complexity increases with the introduction of more partner work i.e. pad work, kumite and bunkai as well as a greater range of kata and Sensei's picking of the full basic syllabus. Now late in the day, the audience was a little smaller, but the anticipation building and tension higher that ever. Some in the audience were watching a grading for the first time to help prepare for their own first grading in September, a course of action I'd highly recommend.
The standard delivered again did not disappoint and all those who graded worked extremely hard in their solo work and with their partners. For senior James Clark grading for full 5th Kyu Blue belt, this was the first grading with contact sparing. By it's nature, this is an intense part of the grading requiring good self control and determined spirit to push through personal boundaries of fatigue and discomfort, which is always amazing and inspiring to watch.
Congratulations to all,
Successful Candidates were as follows: