Here at E.S.K.K, a big part of what we do is looking at ways to support the local community. We do this in a multitude of ways - one of these being the demonstration of traditional karate and providing taster sessions to local youth groups.
So on Monday 17th November, it was the turn of 1st Hensingham Cubs to join in the fun once more. It was 3 years to the day since E.S.K.K's first visit to Eddie Stewart's cub pack. Eddie now runs the Hensingham branch with help from other volunteer leaders. Back in November 2012, Pauleen Wignall was a cub leader when we visited for a demonstration, she is now the proud owner of an orange belt as she passed her 7th Kyu grading at the weekend, small world! Just as last time, David Forsythe changed his usual Monday night cub leaders uniform for his dogi and joined the E.S.K.K volunteers to share traditional karate with the cubs.
The evening opened up with a Grand Howl where the cubs line up under the leaders direction and the appointed duty sixer (a well earned position of responsibility for one of the 8 to 10½ year olds) leads the salutation. All the cubs crouch down and howl 'we will do our best', the duty sixer then stands and howls back 'cubs do your best'. The cubs all then join him standing and reply with 'we will do our best'. This opening howl is an important part of the session and aligns to the cub promise and scout law which includes the line 'I promise that I will do my best'. This promise aligns perfectly to the ethos of traditional karate, particularly the family spirit and strong determination shown by all of our dojo members.
The 1st Hensingham scouts are usually split over two nights, Monday and Tuesday. Eddie had kindly arranged for both groups to meet on this particular Monday to share the E.S.K.K experience. After a few ball games organised by the leaders to warm the cubs up, the karate team were introduced and Sensei Chris Denwood took the lead. A few of the cubs had some martial arts experience, but for most, this was their first taste of any form of budo. They respectfully sat quietly and watched in awe as we displayed some of our basic techniques and a rendition of our core form, Naihanchi Kata.
A solo performance by John Smallman was punctuated by loud cracks as Sensei demonstrated posture testing as carried out in our senior closed dojo. These cracks were generated by the sound of Sensei's hands slapping down on John's shoulders, as well as kicks that fired in to John's legs to check for correct structure. Although this kind of training is strictly only for adults, The young audience, now completely captivated, were very eager to try some karate for themselves!
Sensei then went on to take the group through a short warm up and a half hour taster session for the cubs. They learned our formal etiquette and the meaning behind our important bows of respect, followed by some basic punches, 'blocks' and kicks. After a few repetitions, The kids found out that karate can be pretty hard work, but although they were tired, they still worked hard and smiled throughout. We finished off the taster session with some padwork drills using the techniques learned to really raise the pulses. Sadly though, the time passed far too quickly and with the arrival of parents, this signalled the end of the session. We were all impressed at just how much everyone had learned in such a short space of time as demonstrated by a well performed closing etiquette.
Then, just as last time, all the members from the demo team were awarded the status of honorary cub and formally presented with a group necker and woggle. As Sensei and John Smallman were already made honorary cubs back in 2012, they were awarded with handmade para-cord woggles as a token of gratitude for helping the group.
A special thanks goes to all our new honorary cubs:
Elaine Ashford / Charlie Ashford / Sophie Cullen / Lewis Cullen / Holly Leeson / Danielle Leeson / Kelvin McDonald / Natasha McDonald / Dominic Mills / Reid Nicholls.
Reid also swapped his cub uniform for his dogi to perform in front of his fellow cubs. What a courageous effort and one which we hope will earn him his cub martial arts activity badge.
Thanks also to our existing honorary cubs, John Smallman and Sensei Chris Denwood and cub leader, David Forsythe. We all very much enjoyed working with the cubs, were privileged by the invitation and appreciate the support of all the leaders on the night.
Dave F and Sophie C