The black belt grading in September 2013 was a special moment in my karate journey as I successfully passed to Sandan under the watchful eye of Sensei George Andrews. Alongside me that weekend was three of my students who were grading to 1st kyu. A lot has happened over the past year, including the move of the Honbu dojo to new premises in Peckham to make way for the demolition of the Institute of Traditional Karate-Do in the Heygate Estate.
This was the 8th Annual Gasshuku I have conducted in Koh Samui, Thailand and each year there are more people attending however, I have now limited the amount of participants to 30 and by invitation only.
This is the 15th year that I have been teaching at the Institute of Traditional Karate – Do. In that time I have conducted twice yearly Black Belt Gradings and this time was one of the best, in terms of a true family feeling.
_ First I would like to say thank you all for attending this weekend and supporting me, it’s a pleasure to see people that just think about their training and the pursuit of Okinawan Goju – Ryu, I have over many years given my time and effort to help people achieve their aspirations. So this is the time when effort and diligent training is put to the test and your presentation will lead to the success or demise as a grading should be just a formality.
Training started at 10am on Saturday with the Honbu Dojo traditional warm up, then basics with impact in any direction which helps to develop coordinated fighting skills. After a water break, Kata bunkai for Gekisai to Kururufa and Kata scrutinising each move. The training finished at 4pm, some of the people went straight to the Sauna to chill – out.
On Sunday 10am after the bow Sensei John Healy 4th Dan led the running. The pace was acceptable for a while then after 20 minutes the grading candidates were told to keep running and were put through their paces, trying to keep up with Sensei John, which is no easy feat. After a further 15 minutes the call to stop was welcomed by all.
After the warm up and a recap of the previous day, the Kata was repeated over and over again, then everyone partnered and demonstrated their understanding of Kakie with throws and then more Kata and bunkai.
After lunch the grading candidates lined up for the test. After 3 hours of arduous training with some powerful iri – kumi the last leg of the journey was sounded, Star – Jumps, Sit ups and Push ups, I am proud of the entire group for showing so much spirit.
After the announcements were made and everyone freshened up it was Party time. At first no one wanted to eat, I think this was because they wanted to reflect on the past two days and emotions started to show, however soon the party got into the swing.
My special thanks to the people that helped during the weekend and the grading.
Editors note: Photos are not usually taken during the grading but on this occaision some of the aspects have been documented. We join the grading with advanced kata before moving onto demonstration of bunkai. This was followed by kakie, kumite, pad work and chishi kata before the final "spirit test".
Training started on Saturday morning at 10am, and after the warm up the teaching was concentrated on Kata Sanchin, Sanchin Kotai and Tensho and Kakie, followed by supplementary training Chishi and Makiwara.
For those that have graded under Sensei George in the past, not only at the Institute but around the world, know that it is no easy task and that everyone is given equal opportunity to achieve their goal irrespective of Ability, Gender, Race, Religious Conviction, Maturity or Sexual Preference.
Chief Instructor OTGKA