We held a Special Cadet Leader and Assistant Instructor Course with Guest Instructor Alan Campbell Sensei on Sunday 17th July. Our bi-annual Shodan and Nidan grading followed and what an extraordinarily emotional day it turned out to be.
The course was great with a fantastic turnout as always. Alan Campbell Sensei is a 6th Dan Black Belt and the Head of JKS England and he taught alongside our own Sensei Paul Wolstencroft for an an hour and a half. The behaviour from our juniors was exemplary as always and Alan Sensei was complimentary about our Club after the course which is great to hear. We may not all be World Champions (although we may have a few on their way!) but we at Red Tiger are always very eager to listen, try hard and to improve.
Alan Sensei delivered a thought-provoking and technical session in which he emphasised the importance of paying attention to detail which is the only way to take your karate to the next level. He took us through a number of developmental kihon exercises before breaking down Kata ‘Kanku-Dai’. I think our students really took on board the advice they were given and tried hard to correct everything they were asked to.
I would urge all of our students and Instructors to continue to think about the finer details and making improvement in their karate each and every time they train. It is the most important principle if you want to become the very best that you are capable of. Sensei Paul covered some kihon drills, kicking and sweeping exercises and allowed us to practise our Jiyu Ippon kumite. Two very different, yet equally enjoyable sessions.
Thanks to all the Cadets, Assistants, Instructors and students who turned out for the course. There was almost 100 people training in total which was great.
There were 27 people in total booked in for grading following the course.
Lots of students and families stayed behind to offer their support to these brave and nervous students and Instructors who had earned their opportunity in the grading line-up.
I think it important to mention students do not get to put themselves forward in our Club. They have to go through vigorous training sessions and a pre-assessment before they even get the go-ahead to try. Each and every person who had been put forward on the day had earned their place in the line-up and we believed they deserved the opportunity and would try their very best.
We are pleased to say that everyone did give their best and we are so proud of all of our grading candidates. A couple of students were unsuccessful and a further three have to retake either their kata or kumite section. This news of course is completely devastating to receive at the time for not only the students themselves, but also for their families, friends and Instructors. We must all support these students and do everything we can to help them get back on track.
Black Belts are awarded based on the performance of each individual student. They are judged according to their own ability and the standard the examiners feel they are capable of achieving. It was felt that a few students under-performed based on their own ability and we must now refocus, pick up the pieces, try to bridge the gap and make progress. You are all dedicated students and have shown bravery and determination to get this far.
Do not be a quitter, you might be down right now but it is up to you if you stay down. You all have what it takes to finish what you started so lets get the work done and prove to everyone that you are Black Belts. Mike Beckwith Sensei has the best way of looking at setbacks when it comes to grading and it is very apt to remind you all what he says:
“Giving up now is like running a marathon – and giving up in the last 100 metres”.
We aren’t going to let any of you do that, so be proud that you gave it your best shot. You have the whole Club behind you making sure that next time – it is YOUR day!
We are very pleased to report that we have 7 new Nidans and 15 new Shodans. All of the students that took the Nidan examination passed which is amazing. They have all had a very tough route to the grading, they been picked on and worked to the point of exhaustion. All of the blood, sweat and tears have paid off and their performances were superb. Our new Shodans were also fantastic and we couldn’t be more pleased for them all.
It is right to say a few words about each of the students and their journey with us and be proud that your name is up on that Black Belt Roll of Honour for everyone to see.
Shodan – 1st Dan Black Belt
Matthew Sheard – Matthew is a lovely young man with excellent karate. I have never seen him work so hard and he was very determined to be successful. He has had a few tellings-off in training and has really improved as a consequence. His combinations were excellent, Katas looked great and his movement and kumite was class. Well done Matthew, your Black Belt is hard earned and well deserved and we are proud of you.
Clive Riley – Clive was well up for this grading and gave it 100% from start to finish. He could benefit from relaxing which would improve the presentation of his Katas etc. but I think he was a man on a mission with a point to prove. Clive can certainly look after himself and grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Great performance from a very determined man.
Amanda Riley – Amanda has had a rough road to Black Belt grading and struggles with confidence more than anything. Amanda is very dedicated and always works hard, never misses class and doesn’t look for an easy option. This dedication and experience served her well on the grading day and I think she performed better than I have ever seen her before. Her focus was exceptional and we are delighted that the awesome Riley family are now all Black Belts! Well done Amanda, very well deserved.
Mia Dickerson – What a fantastic grading from this super-talented little star. She was inspirational to all other youngsters with her sharp movement and excellent focus. Mia was equally impressive in all areas and will look right at home in class wearing her black belt. Very well deserved and the future is very bright for Mia, she was amazing.
Bernadette Burton – Bernie is the perfect of example of what can be achieved with dedication, constant training and determination. Bernie has consistently trained 3-4 times a week every week since she first started. She is the first to admit that karate doesn’t come easily to her and she has some physical limitations. But you will never hear her complain and she will never miss a class. She has worked hard and achieved a good standard. Gaining her Black Belt will do wonders for her confidence and we are so happy for her. Well done.
Andy McNally – Andy practises real karate. You would not want to stand in front of Andy and let him hit you with any of his techniques. He is an absolute powerhouse! Luckily for us, he’s a thoroughly lovely bloke. He has worked very hard over the years to tidy up his karate and did very well well on Sunday. He did the best we have ever seen him do and we couldn’t be happier for him to wear a Black Belt in our Club. Phoebe is next! What a strong girl, she can and will do it and Dad will help!
Joshua Knox – Joshua Knox was incredible. He is sometimes overshadowed in his class by the other amazing young lads such as Louis J, James S, Adam K, Danny, Matthew A, Etc. but Joshua showed us all that he is every bit as special as they are. What a talent. He performed so well from start to finish and this boy can do everything to such a high standard. Dedication, perseverance and patience over the years has finally paid off for Joshua and we are so pleased he is now a Black Belt. Well done!
Dean Knox – Dean has been performing brilliantly in the run up to the grading and was the stand out adult amongst the Shodans on the day. He was well up for it and showed excellent technique. His combinations and Katas were really strong, well practised and sharp and his jiyu ippon kumite was outstanding. Very well done indeed to Sensei Dean, I think for someone with such high expectations that he can be pleased with his performance. He was brilliant.
Matthew Affleck – It is difficult to put into writing how jaw-droppingly good at karate Matthew is. He was perhaps one of the very best students I have ever seen go to Black Belt in 20 years of doing karate. He makes it look effortless and he really is in a class of his own. Outstanding grading from an exceptionally gifted and humble young man. It was easy to see why Matthew is our Student of the Year 2015 – based on that performance he could win it twice. What a star, what a future! This kid has it all. Well done Matthew.
Georgie Dyal – Outstanding performance from Georgie who in the last twelve months has transformed into an exceptional student. She is one of our brightest young girls and is inspirational to the other youngsters in the Wilmslow and Handforth classes. She was magnificent throughout the grading and trained with such focus, that nothing would stop her earning a successful outcome. A wonderful young girl who is a pleasure to teach. She has a very bright future indeed. Well done to Sensei Karen too – her first student turning to Black belt!
James Moseley – James has had a very long karate journey and we are so happy that he has got his Black Belt. He always tries his best and is a great character to have in the classes. His sheer effort and determination outweighs his ability and I think he exceeded all expectations on the day. He was sharp, focused and dare I say ……. quite tidy! Fantastic performance from a lovely young lad who is strong as a bull! Well done James!
Jonty Johnson – Jonty always works hard and never tries to cheat the system. He has worked his way to the top with pure effort and excellent attendance. He always tries to correct everything you ask him to and he is a pleasure to teach. He’s polite, kind and helpful to others and deserves every bit of success that come his way. He meets his potential and has earned every last inch of that Black Belt he can now proudly wear. Well done young man.
Jack Fisher – Jack was an absolute star at the grading. For every little bit of advice he has been given and every time he has been to off for not trying hard enough, he set out to prove a point and did so brilliantly. He was sharp and focused like never before and really deserved his position in the line up and his Black Belt. He was excellent, I hope he keeps up this great effort. Well done Jack!
Paul Smith – Excellent grading from a lovely man. Paul has been training with us for the last couple of years and has made every effort possible to adapt his karate to the JKS style. Paul seemed very confident throughout the grading and was impressive in all areas. His combinations were tidy and strong. His Katas flowed and were well timed and his kumite was on point. A richly deserved Shodan, very well done.
Catherine Johnson – Catherine has always been very shy, very quiet and has in the past, lacked confidence. Thankfully, the Catherine we saw on Sunday looked very confident, worked really hard and showed great spirit. She has excellent stances and beautiful kata. Her combinations were well practiced and she looked calm and strong during the kumite. Catherine even looked like she quite enjoyed herself and the look of relief on her face when she found out she had passed was priceless. What a performance and we couldn’t be more pleased for you.
Nidan – 2nd Dan Black Belt
All have our new Nidans have spent many years dedicated themselves to training in our Club. Some have been training 8-9 years to get this far and we couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them. Taking nothing away from the new Shodans, but when this next group of people got up, the difference was enormous. Power, confidence, technique, everything was sharp and dynamic, they really were head and shoulders above. They are all talented and very special in their own way and we are delighted that they chose to continue their journey with us when we joined the JKS and chose to adapt their karate. Many have chosen not to bother but the following 7 students did it the hard way and have earned a JKS grade that will be recognised all over the World.
What is arguably more important than the actual karate, is the character of the candidates – the mental and moral qualities that they bring to the dojo every time they train. All of our Nidan candidates are remarkable people with great character. We will not send people for Nidan who will not respect the grade and carry it with honour. Now you have achieved it, it comes with great responsibility. You should continue to train like a Nidan, work hard, endeavor to improve and work towards your Sandan. Set the example and help us to keep raising that bar. If Paul Sensei or any of our seniors wouldn’t have continued to look for ways to improve and keep moving forward, we wouldn’t have the Club we have today.
What a marvellous achievement, well done.
Danny Silverwood – Danny been training with us for the last 8 years and has always been one of our very best youngsters. He’s a lovely young man with the face of an angel but don’t be fooled by these cutie-pie looks – Danny can pack and punch and look after himself. He proved it yesterday and proves it everytime he trains. He has exceptionally high ability and Paul Sensei knows this. That is why Danny gets such a hard time in class. We know what he is capable of and his performance at grading was class. We know Danny is very special and his talent must be developed. His Kanku-Dai was the best we have ever seen him do, technically sound and not rushed. His combinations were very sharp and dynamic and his kumite was really impressive especially considering he was fighting much older and bigger students. He was so brave and gave as good as he got. He got caught in the face and shook it off immediately and you could that it ignited his fire! We are so proud of Danny, our youngest ever Nidan. What a superstar! There’s no doubt he will be back in the dojo, getting told off by Sensei Paul because he absolutely loves training and he will continue his karate journey and keep getting better and better.
Rob Head – Rob has always been an excellent student but struggled to fill his massive potential due to low confidence. This is unfathomable for most of us who know how good Rob is at karate and how hard he works in the dojo. This year we have seen him train with a new found confidence and self belief and the results were there for all to see on Sunday. No holding back, no self doubt, just confidence and powerful karate. He was awesome. So sharp and explosive throughout his combinations,his Katas were technically sound, very strong and well timed. He looked relaxed which is something he has been working on since he very first started and his kumite was perhaps the most impressive part of his grading. His techniques looked strong, he put together some good combinations and his timing was on point. We are really happy that Rob is now a Sensei and passing his awesome karate down to his students. He is a fantastic role model and deserves every bit of success and praise he gets. Well done Rob, hopefully you will continue to believe in yourself as you have the potential to continue to progress through the Senior Dan Grades.
Teresa Withington – Teresa started her karate journey way back when she was at university and caught the karate bug once again after coming through the doors of the Chesham class ( a few years later\) with a very ‘strong minded and independent’ 4 year old Sophie. Sophie herself has gone on to earn her Shodan as has eldest daughter Emily and husband Craig. Teresa well and truly re-caught the karate bug right away and the Withingtons are all super talented and one of the loveliest families you could ever meet. She has struggled over the years with various injuries but always gives it 100% every time she steps foot in the dojo. She has trained consistently and is a wonderful Instructor. Teresa has been very focused on earning her 2nd Dan and really does pay attention to the finer details to refine her technique in the combinations and Kata sections. Her combinations looked sharp and strong and her Katas were excellent. She showed good understanding of what she was doing and her katas flowed really nicely. I think perhaps Teresa expected to struggle in the kumite section and Rob is no easy opponent. She was spirited and brave throughout her round and will no doubt be analysing her performance and looking for ways to improve. She thoroughly deserves her 2nd Dan based not only on the performance on the day, but also as a reward for the number of years of blood, sweat and years she has put into her training. The high and lows were all made worth it on this one day. Hard earned and well deserved. An inspiration to all other ladies who have started or restarted karate a little later in life.
Kylah Lawson – Kylah has had a very long and very hard karate journey. She started in GKR Karate many years ago and joined Red tiger as a green belt. She has then flourished in not only skill, but confidence too. Kylah is one of our most loyal and dedicated students, she trains 3-4 times a week, every week without fail. She is often criticized in classes for not working hard enough or looking disinterested but she well and truly proved the doubters wrong on Sunday. She was focused, moved very sharp and looked like a class act. You can see the time and effort that has gone into Kylah’s karate and this reflected in her high standard on Sunday. Kylah didn’t hold back and had nothing to lose. She just went for it and we wish that we would see this amazing student at every single class. She is a fantastic role model in the Swinton class and is a huge help to Tony Davies Sensei. Her karate is visually impressive and lots of the youngsters in Tony Sensei’s area look up to her and will endeavor to follow in her footsteps. Her kumite was really good. She has certainly made the most improvement in this area and made sure that Lori-Ann had to be on top form too. Outstanding performance from a kind, caring and lovely young lady. See Kylah, we love you really!!!!!! Well done Swinton!
Leah Clare – Leah has to be one of the most dedicated students in the Club. From the day she started back at Crimble Croft in Heywood, she has trained consistently and made every effort to better herself. She does everything the hard way and we couldn’t be more proud to call her a Nidan in our Club. Leah attends everything, courses, training weekends, tournaments – you name it, Leah is there, working away and quietly improving all the time. To a achieve such a high level at such a young age, it takes a very special person indeed. One by one, Instructors, training partners and friends she has made over the years have dropped out, quit or gone their own way. Leah has been here training hard and developing her awesome talent alongside Rachael Sensei. Over the years she has won medals and trophies for her dedication but nothing could come close to what she achieved on Sunday. Lori-Ann, Kylah and Leah are the 3 youngest female Nidans we have ever had and they were excellent. We could take Leah anywhere and be proud of her standard. You can have all the talent in the world but perhaps what means more than her extraordinary ability is the fact that she is well mannered, kind and lovely young girl. A credit to her parents who have been behind her every step of the way. Well done missus, you smashed it!
Matthew Lowe – When I think about Matthew I immediately think ‘ a natural’. This can be a gift in the right hands or a curse if you are not a hard worker. Fortunately for us, Matthew is a very hard worker and has never taken his gift for granted. He is a talented athlete, dividing his time between practising karate and playing football. He remains one of our longest serving and most loyal Cadet Leaders and an inspiration to all other young lads at Red Tiger. His kicking ability is phenomenal and he showed some of what he is capable of on the grading day. I think he struggled with the distance and height difference at first but soon got into usual kumite mode of delivering head level round kicks, back kicks that will make you sick and hook kicks. Matthew is never afraid to try out the harder techniques and oozes confidence in the kumite. Sparring and kicking is definitely Matthews thing, but he did work very hard in class on his katas and combinations to try and bring them up to a high standard. He understands that a Nidan has be a complete karate-ka, not just someone who is exceptional is one area and average in the others. Overall his performance on the grading day was excellent and we are very pleased to have him achieve Nidan with us. What a wonderful young man!
Lori-Ann Moran – An exceptional student who has earned and deserves everything she has been given over the years. Student of the Year 2014, a JKS England Squad member, a phenomenal Cadet Leader, a tremendous talent, Red Tiger and Kata and Kumite Gold Medalist (several times over), the student with the highest attendance, the list could go on and on. We can talk about all of these great achievements and how brilliant she was on the grading day, but it is important to know that Lori-Ann is an Instructors dream. A kind, selfless, caring, considerate, polite, hard-working, eager to please, driven, wonderful young lady. She attends EVERYTHING. You simply couldn’t ask for a better student. Granted, she can look tired from time to time by the end of a long week – but that is because she trains literally every day. She shows a dogged determination that will hopefully one day, take her all the way to the top. We would hope that everyone watching would have been inspired by Lori-Ann’s performance at the grading. Her chosen Kata was exceptional. She came forward in the Kumite and was closing distance well, using combinations and looking sharp. This was everything she had been struggling to do and has worked so hard to improve. Her combinations were of a high standard and she was just superb in all areas. There is no doubt that Lori-Ann will continue to improve and continue to develop her karate. It is her everything and we are honoured to have her at Red Tiger, I will look forward to training alongside my mini-me in Japan! She will be keeping all of us ladies on our tippy toes. What a star. Julie also deserves an award for being the number 1 taxi driver, going back and forth from classes and going all over the country. Lori-Ann is lucky to have an equally dedicated Mum.
To bring the article to a close I’d like to finish by thanking all of the Instructors and Assistants who have helped get the students to the standard they needed to be at over the years. Your contribution is everything and I’m sure all of the students are extremely grateful as are we. Thanks to Alan Sensei, Wendy Sensei and Paul Sensei who conducted the grading and imparted their wisdom and expertise.
The last and biggest thank you has to go to the parents and partners of who graded (or didn’t grade). It is you who enable our students to come to karate, you are their motivators, their safety blanket, their chauffeurs, their ATM. You are always there throughout the highs and the lows with words of wisdom or gentle encouragement when needed. You are the people that pick up the pieces of the devastated, powerless to do comfort them or make them feel better. You will be the ones sharing their joy when they finish what they started. You are people who make it possible and without your support and effort, they simply would never be able to achieve what they did and we would have no Club.
Thank you all.