Two of our most senior, experienced and respected Dan Grades have stories and karate journeys both similar and parallel culminating in a recent red-letter day.
In Bletchley club, in 1997, Pam and Matthew Waterhouse started their karate journey with CFTS, persuaded to start karate by her Matthew's school friend, Michael, when they were still at primary school. In Pam’s own words: “I found the first lesson baffling but intriguing. I couldn't co-ordinate my arms and legs and had a very quiet, polite kiai”. However, after training many more sessions at Wolverton and Newport Pagnell, as well as Bletchley, she progressed though the grades attaining Shodan grading in October 2003, proving dedication and perseverance pays off.
It is Sensei McMahon’s second time around in karate. He first experienced it in the 70s and 80s, ultimately earning Shodan in Wado-Ryu. The Wado-Ryu club folded in the late 70's and migrated into a semi-contact and weapons-based organisation under the banner of Kenbukai. A serious back injury put his karate career at risk for a long while thinking he was destined never to train again. However in 2001 his son, Liam, expressed an interest in starting karate and that lead to him recommencing his karate journey, later to be joined by his daughter Zoe.
The most recent chapter to both their karate stories culminated in attempting Yondan on Saturday October the 7th. Yondan is purely a kata-based grading. Both Pam and Simon turned up facing the grading panel not knowing quite what to expect. They had to perform any of the thirty Shotokan kata to a high standard and explain as much bunkai to strikes, kicks and punches as may be asked of them. In all, sixteen kata were performed plus two bo kata, demonstrating alternative bunkai to weapon attacks and grabs too where applicable as well as to kicks, strikes and punches. The grading included, as with all dan gradings, a question and answer section on the meaning of kata names, terminology and the ten elements of kata.
After three and a half hours of gruelling examination a tired pair of karate-ka, Pam & Simon, nervously left the hall, exhausted.
Having freshened up and gotten changed, they returned to the dojo to get verbal feedback on their performance. Then, having listened to both positive and negative comments, they were both then told that they had been successful on passing Yondan, 4th level black belt. This is a big step and a great achievement in anyone’s karate journey. In fact it is the final physical grading. The next grading, Godan (5th Level black belt) is to put on a course or seminar on an aspect of karate challenging, innovative and traditional after another minimum wait of five further years regular training.
Renshi takes a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction seeing students develop and rise high through the ranks especially with two such loyal and supportive students of CFTS Shotokan karate. Many congratulations must go to both Pam and Simon on their achievement from Renshi, the executive and technical committees as well as all the other dan grades and students of CFTS.