We held a Darwen Grading on the afternoon of Saturday 11th June for students training in the Darwen, Lancashire and Blackburn areas. It was pretty hot in the dojo – the ‘perfect conditions’ for a very good (meaning HARD) grading according to Paul Wolstencroft Sensei!
The atmosphere was a nervous one as the students began to fill the hall and practise before the grading got underway. We soon got started and everyone began to relax and show all of the Instructors in attendance just how good their karate is. There was once again a massive improvement made in the standard of the students.
The basics were solid and you couldn’t ask for more effort from this bunch who were so eager to please. Paul Sensei even threw in a few (bad) jokes and the students managed to muster up a giggle rather than a groan. Comedy moment of the day has to go to Jazz hands himself Jaime Pratley who has to be one of the most flexible people in the Club. He taught the stretching section with the confidence of somebody who has been teaching for 20 years. Amazing Cadet Leader and amazing teacher at such a young age!
There was absolutely nothing to complain about at all -apart from the fact that it was about 85 degrees in there. Everyone coped brilliantly.
There were some impressive lower grades including William Cristoforo, Danika Wood, Isabelle Pritchard, Grant Pritchard (who double graded from orange to yellow belt – a very rare achievement indeed), Tushar & Bhupendra Vasta, Helen Dolan, Andy Matale and Lilly O’ Donovan. Keep up the great work guys, you showed us that you all have excellent potential.
Edison Chan has been with our Club for a few years now and has undergone a remarkable transformation. His Katas were superb, all credit to Edison who has remained loyal and worked very hard to achieve his 4th Kyu in fantastic style.
We always mention by name those dedicated students who have made it to 3rd Kyu and above. This group were very impressive and couldn’t have worked harder. They took everything that was thrown at them and showed great spirit. Well done to you all. You earned every inch of those belts so you should wear them with honour and pride.
3rd Kyu Brown Belt
John O’ Donovan – Strong performance from a very enthusiastic, dedicated and hard-working student. John really enjoys his karate and picks everything up very quickly, he listens and corrects what you ask him to and is finally starting to find some confidence. A bit more belief in his own ability and he will make further improvement. He is a very encouraging and well-liked member and we are lucky to have Amy, Lilly and John in our club. Top job John with the glasses, well done!
Oliver Rigby – Oliver prepared himself well for this grading. He looked sharper and more focused than ever before. He has improved a lot between 4th Kyu and 3rd Kyu and is beginning to take his karate more seriously as he approaches his Black Belt. This is great to see and he did much better in the kumite at this grading. Last time he got a rough ride, this time he was ready, had a point to prove and tried a lot harder. Well done and keep up the great work.
Jade Rigby – Jade is always giving it 100% every-time she trains. She works hard, gives it everything and you couldn’t ask for more from her. She had made excellent progress and showed fantastic spirit throughout the grading. Her fitness and stamina has improved and she thoroughly deserves that Brown Belt. Her Katas were good and her kumite looks more relaxed. Well done and wear that belt with pride.
John Dolan – Outstanding grading from one of the most promising Kyu grades in the Club. John has recently become a Sensei and we can see why already he has a great following in his class. His karate is strong, sharp and there are no weak areas. His Katas were clean and well practised and his kumite was great, despite the fact that he was probably ready for a lie down at that point. He pushed it past the point of exhaustion and led by example. We are lucky to have John, Helen and their twins; Thomas and Liam training in our Club, their passion and enthusiasm for training rubs off on those around them. Well done, you are progressing brilliantly towards Black Belt. 🙂
Jo Sysum – Impressive as ever and way too hard on herself. Jo has been struggling with ill health for the last couple of weeks and really had to battle through the pain barrier to complete the grading. She is technically excellent in all areas and a real perfectionist. Her Katas were very good and well practised, she had fantastic combinations and solid basics. Jo did her best in the kumite but was completely exhausted by this point. She fought bravely, pushed herself so hard to the very end and simply refused to give up. A real inspiration to all the students training, parents watching and even to us Instructors. Never have we seen someone dig so deep and want a grade so badly. It didn’t go down the way Jo would have liked but there is no doubt in our mind that Jo has reached the level of 2nd Kyu and is ready to progress towards 1st Kyu. There is no question that this super-talented lady will back and better than ever next time around.
Gary Pratley – Our Student of the Grading award went to Gary Pratley for the sheer amount of effort he put in from the first minute of the grading to the very last. He was dripping with sweat 5 minutes in and we couldn’t have picked anyone more deserving. Gary is a lovely man who tries his best at every lesson. We don’t have to be there to know this, you can just tell by the way he trains. He enjoys training and more than meets his potential. He is encouraging to others and really tries to correct everything you ask him to. He had a great grading and showed us that a lot a improvement has been made especially in his combinations and jiyu kumite. Fantastic stuff well done.
Jake Gould – This young man is a very exciting prospect indeed. His karate is outstanding, his attitude is perfect and the effort he gives you is second to none. We see exceptionally high ability in Jake. Above all, he is a lovely young man who is a kind to others and a complete inspiration. You can tell that the other youngsters look up to him and rightly so. I bet if Nicola Holland Sensei could have a room full of Jake Gould’s she would be a very happy Instructor. He faces challenges head on with that big grin on his face. He was determined from the outset to be the best in the room and I think its fair to say that he achieved this. We can talk about the improvement he has made but we are just so excited by his talent, we just want to see how good he’s going to be next time. This lad is immense and we should all remember his name, he has already put himself in the running for Student of the Year 2016 by my estimation and it is only June!
Lastly, we’d like to thank all of the people who make the grading happen, the students for working hard and sticking to their goals, the parents who week in week out keep our students motivated and drive them to and from training. The Instructors who work hard in classes to prepare the students and were kind enough to help us out on the day – Dave Sensei, Brandon Sensei, Callum Sensei and Cadet Leaders – Mia Steinbach, Jaime Pratley and Trainee Instructor Anthony Greenough. Your hard work and support is greatly appreciated.
The biggest thanks has to go to Nicola Holland Sensei who is the glue that holds the area together. She works tirelessly to make sure that everyone knows exactly what they will be expected to do, she pushes the students hard and takes personal responsibility for their progression. She cares deeply for her students and the families in her classes and really has created a Red Tiger community over in Darwen not just a collection of Clubs. It must be very frustrating not being able to take part in the thing that you love the most but the standard in the area is certainly not suffering, in fact, it is getting better every time we visit. You have built a special team over there and we know that you will go from strength to strength. Thank you for everything you do, you really do go over and above for our Club and your efforts as always are acknowledged and greatly appreciated.