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Dan Gradings - March 2007

Saturday the 31st March at Balliol School saw the usual mix of excitement, fear and trepidation. I’m not talking about the Dan grades present (although it might be true for some), but rather about the ten invited guests who arrived to grade for Shodan.

Gradings are always a nervous, stressful, and hopefully rewarding time for those taking part, but it should be remembered that it’s equally so for any instructor whose student is grading!

The group of ten karateka were joined together with one common purpose, to survive arguably the most daunting of gradings and to achieve what is seen as the ultimate goal in Karate – the Black Belt.

And so the scene was set, and just before 2.30pm the ten nervous candidates were invited into the dojo and, under the watchful eye of the grading panel that consisted of the 3 most senior grades in CFTS, Sensei Kidby, Sensei O’Reilly and Sensei McClagish, the grading began.

As the grading progressed through Kihon (basics), Kata and Kumite, I don’t remember there being any blood (although someone might correct me!), but I know that there was a lot of sweat and a few tears, with each candidate giving their all to impress the panel.

Finally, shortly after 5 o’clock, it was the moment of truth and the candidates were told whether or not they had been successful. Huge congratulations should go to the eight who were, and commiserations to the two who were not, although, as it’s been said, if you continue to train hard and with spirit, your time will come.

Along with the personal goals that were achieved on the day, there were important milestones for certain clubs too. Ampthill, Brickhill and Clapham clubs all had their first ‘home grown’ students achieve black belt, another thing worth celebrating.

It’s now been a week or so since the grading; the aches will have gone, the bruises will have started to fade (well, mine have) and I’m sure you will have each had chance to wear your new belt in class; a moment I’m sure you’ll never forget.

On a personal note I would like to remind all those that took part on the day (both successful and unsuccessful) that it’s your dedication and spirit, as well as your physical abilities and techniques that other serious karateka will see, and not just your grade. It may not seem like it now, but there is much more to your karate-do than the colour of the belt you wear.


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