Grading News

Special Course & Dan Grading a big success! Write up and results: 30th July 2017

Another weekend, another brilliant event! We held a special course with Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan Head of JKS England, Matt Price Sensei 6th Dan National Squad Coach of JKS  and Paul Wolstencroft Sensei 4th Dan Chief Instructor of Red Tiger Karate.

The course was very well supported by both Club Instructors and students so a huge thank you to everyone who gave up their free time and came to train in the day. Without your support, we couldn’t run these events and the standard of karate at Red Tiger would not be what it is. All sections were thoroughly enjoyable with all 3 Instructors rotating round the groups.

We were split by grade and managed to cram so much into the 2 hours we had, the time just flew by. The feedback from the course has been excellent and it was one of the best courses we have run. All the Instructors were in good spirits and the effort and energy from those training was awesome. Was great to see Kevin Christopher Sensei 3rd Dan from JKS Leyland and Wendy Preston Sensei 4th Dan coming along and getting stuck in!

Huge thank you to Alan Campbell Sensei,  Matt Price Sensei and Paul Sensei for teaching us all and sharing their expertise.

Some students got their Gi’s and tickets signed by our guests at the end and this was then followed by the Dan grading.

Twenty eight Red Tigers were brave enough to put themselves forward for their Shodan or Nidan and it was a very tense couple of hours. They all tried their very best to battle their nerves and impress the Instructors. If you have never attempted a Dan Grading, you cannot begin to understand how much pressure you are under and how quickly it can all unravel if there is a tiny lapse in concentration.

The students have been working hard for the last couple of months at senior class to give themselves the best possible chance of success. But there is so much more to the journey than the last few weeks of preparation. Each and every person who attempted their grading on Sunday and last weekend, earned the right to be there. They earned their place in the line up through many years of hard training, sweat, tears and grueling Kyu gradings.

They have all experienced the magnificent highs and the agonising lows of training in karate and are still here, unlike the majority of the people who started the journey beside them. They never got off the train. They have continued to battle hard and reach their goals. They are not quitters, they are the winners and that is why they were there.

You have already shown true spirit, determination and strength of character to get this far and we were proud to give you the opportunity to try and grade. Some were successful and some will have to try again. Getting a Black Belt should never be the end of the journey anyway. It is just the beginning. Being awarded your Black Belt doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, it simply means that you have worked hard within your own capabilities and are meeting your own potential. It is personal to you and doesn’t change your karate at all. You’ll be exactly the same the next time you bow into the dojo. You’ll have to sweat, work hard and try to improve just like everyone else.

It is important that those who were unsuccessful yesterday understand what I have said above and take the following to heart;

  • You are still very good at karate.
  • You have not let anybody down.
  • You should not feel embarrassed. You weren’t the first and you weren’t the only one. There should be no shame in your game! You did well, you just might be capable of a little bit more.
  • Your Instructor and your family are still proud of you.
  • If you teach classes, your students will still look up to you. Perhaps they will admire you more for proving that you are in fact, only human.
  • Good days and bad days can happen to anyone. No matter how amazing your karate is or how much you train. I am a professional Instructor and I failed. But it made me better at karate so I’m glad that it happened.

The best thing about our Club is that we experience these things as one big family. We pull together and look after one another no matter what. We may all train in different classes and have different Instructors, but the wonderful support network and genuine care for one another is felt right across the Club. It is isn’t just the students and Sensei’s who look out for one another, its the parents and supporters who experience it all right alongside us. They matter more than they will ever know, especially yesterday.

The hurt and upset will last only a few days, maybe weeks, then it will pass. But when you get your next opportunity to prove yourself and you’ve worked on what you’ve been asked to, that Shodan or Nidan lasts a lifetime. Reaching your Black Belt is a marathon not a sprint, do not give up in the last 100 metres. I’ve never met a person who has given up at 1st Kyu who hasn’t regretted that RIDICULOUS decision.

I cannot wait to write some special words about those who didn’t quite make it this time around. So please do not disappoint me! Keep it going.

The following students and Instructors were successful and should be extremely proud of becoming a JKS Shodan or a JKS Nidan. You belong to a prestigious organisation and are in very good company. To be awarded your Black Belt by this panel of experts is a special honour indeed.

Congratulations to you all. I have updated the Black Belt Roll of Honour. Well done:

New JKS Shodans:

Christopher Eccles – Chris is one of the longest serving members of our karate club. He started way back in 2007 i think and it has been a long and rocky road for him. We couldn’t be happier for him to have achieved this goal despite a few disappointments along the way. He has been working very hard to tidy up his katas paying particular attention to the correct preparation points, improving his form and correct timing rather than blasting through the kata using sheer force. If Black Belts were given out for effort, Chris would have been a black belt years ago. He did brilliantly on Sunday and has improved so much. Well done Chris!

Nicci Gates – Nicci Gates is the last one standing from a family of fantastic karateka. She should be so proud of herself and has been through so much over the past couple of years both privately and in the dojo. Her determination is inspirational. She along with Chris suffered the disappointment last time out and has been training hard over the last 9 months to improve her kumite and earn what is rightfully hers. Nicci is a very attentive student who tries so hard every time she trains. She is a fantastic Assistant Instructor and is so caring and encouraging to all the Reddish students and those at the other dojos she trains at. We couldn’t be happier for you to have reached this goal and would hope that you use your experience to help others to be as resolutely determined as you.

Lee Murphy – Lee has also been training for many years and is a really big part of the Helmshore class. He is such a nice bloke and we always have a great laugh at training. He takes his karate seriously and decided to continue even when his super-talented daughter stopped! (We miss you Jess!). He tries so hard every lesson and is very committed to his training, consistently attending twice a week. He’s made good progress between 1st Kyu and Black Belt and put in a strong performance on the grading day. He remained focussed and calm despite battling a few injuries (thank heavens Mark Waters didn’t grade at the same time haha). We are so happy that Lee earned his Black Belt and he should be very proud of his achievement. Well done!

Gary Pratley – Solid performance from one of the nicest, most genuine and caring people you’d be lucky enough to meet. Gary has always been a very strong karateka and you’d go a long way to find somebody who puts in more effort than Gary. Nobody tries harder. He trains 3/4 times a week every week and always gives it his best. There is certainly no quit in the beg fella and we couldn’t be happier that he passed despite having a fractured cheekbone and being ill all last week. He deserved a bit of good luck and it certainly came at the right time. Now you have been awarded your Black Belt, it is time to start having some confidence in your capabilities. You are a fab student and Instructor, but we knew that all along. Time for you to start believing it too.

Jaime Pratley – Extraordinary performance from an extraordinarily talented young lad. I’m sure you impressed and inspired everyone watching with your sharp kihon, exceptional katas and lightning quick kumite. Jaime is fulfilling his potential and then some. The panel were very impressed. It is so pleasing to see that such a hard working and talented young lad can withstand that sort of pressure and pull a performance out like that. AMAZING – he is only 10! You must continue to train because you have what it takes to be Student of the Year and achieve so much more with your karate, for you, this really is just the beginning.

Ava Nicholson – One of the stand outs for me. Absolutely superb performance. Ava was exceptional in all areas. Her stances were by far the best in the room. She excelled in the kihon and the kata as expected but she really put up a great fight against the boys in the kumite. She was dynamic, showed great movement, her reactions were lightning quick and she was so focused. What a talent, what a star. Another Student of the Year candidate for sure. You have made everyone so proud, your parents, your Instructors and you are a great ambassador for our Club. All I can say is Wow, well done and keep up the amazing work. I’m sure there is so much more to come from this young lady.

William Hanlon – Great performance from a super talented little pocket rocket. William has always been a fab little student and has always impressed us over the years at his kyu gradings. We were looking forward to seeing him fulfill his potential and achieve his black belt in great style and he certainly did not disappoint. He has been a loyal student and trained with Tony Davies Sensei for many years. Tony Sensei must be bursting with pride because William was arguably the most impressive student he has ever put forward for Dan grading. An exceptional performance from a lovely young man. Well done.

Aurelie Girault – Aurelie Girault is a great all round student. There is no weak areas in her karate, she works so hard to perfect everything and has reached a very high standard indeed. One of the best performances from a female adult we have ever had. She really had to earn it doing several rounds of kumite and even Jiyu Ippon, but that is what becoming a Black Belt is all about, being ready for anything! She did so well and we are so pleased to offer families like the Girault’s and the Pratley’s the opportunity to achieve this together at the same time. It is very special indeed. We look forward to helping Lily progress further with her own karate and enable her to pass on her excellent karate to others. Well done Mrs G!

Kyle Girault – This ultra talented little superstar really knows how to pull it out of the bag on the day. Being so naturally gifted can be a curse as well as a gift, because so much more is expected of you. We expected great things from Kyle and he did not leave us disappointed. He was sharp, focussed and showed great spirit. His Kihon and Katas were marvellous, as was his sparring. We thought we may see him let go a bit more and try some of his crazy techniques but I think he was trying to show good control and be more cautious – a good sign that he is maturing into a very fine karateka. Another strong candidate for student of the year, another little superstar and we know there is much more to come. Keep up the GREAT work.

Megan Ellithorn – A very strong performance from another naturally talented young lady. Megan is very committed to her karate, training twice a week every week. She’s a very intelligent student who is a pleasure to work with. She tries hard to perfect her techniques and really listens and takes on-board all advice. Her Katas were very impressive and she was so focused and strong in the sparring. She put together some good double and triple combinations and her distance and control were both fantastic. Very well done indeed Megan, we are so proud of you.

Jake Gould – This young man is our current Student of the Year and we expected him to be pretty impressive at the grading. He always trains so hard and is superbly talented and dedicated, he actually managed to surpass our expectations. He was absolutely incredible. We couldn’t have asked for more. His Katas were outstanding, his kihon was on point and his kumite was extremely good, he dealt with his much larger opponent very well. When he got caught, you couldn’t even tell, he just shrugged it off and carried on. He is an inspiration to all that are lucky enough to train alongside him. He is an absolute privilege to teach and we know he has only just begun to scratch the surface of what he is capable of. A very kind and likable young man who always eager to please. He’s is such a credit to his parents. Well done.

James Sherlock – Great performance from a very talented and hard working young man. It is James’s exceptional ability and attention to the finer details of karate that sets him apart. He is a true perfectionist and that is an essential quality for all great karateka. We have enjoyed working with him at Lacey Green and he has inspired many good students there. He always pushes himself and isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone in order to make improvement. James did so well on his grading day but we can see there is clearly much more to come from this hugely talented young man. Well deserved James. What a star!

Graded at JKS Summer Course in Nottingham on 23/7

Jo Sysum – Jo has always been very impressive throughout her Kyu gradings and studies karate very diligently. She has been and trained at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan and knows how good karate should be done. She was fantastic at her grading even though she was experiencing a painful bout of plantar-fasciiatis. Her combinations were very thorough and she pays great attention to detail and this what makes her so good. Her Katas were very tidy and we would hope that the panel were impressed. The kumite section couldn’t have gone better, she was sharp, agile and dynamic and placed some excellent single techniques as well as demonstrating the use of combinations and feints. She had an excellent grading and we were proud to watch her. She is so dedicated and a great Instructor already, she cares deeply for her students as do they for her. We are so glad that she is a karate addict and so lucky to have her training and teaching here at the Club. Keep up the great work.

Mark Ellicott – Mark was in such a tough group at the grading, he was in with three sharp teenagers and didn’t for 1 single second let them run the show. He was fast, explosive and dynamic. His combinations section went well and his Katas were really well practised and tidy. He moves so quick for a gentleman of a certain age. We were very pleasantly surprised. He has made excellent improvement and held his own in the kumite. He absolutely went for it from the outset and gave his opponent a bit of everything, including if I remember rightly a good kick up the bum!! Why not?? Overall Marks performance was really strong and we were really proud of him. His effort in class is always second to none and they say you perform under pressure exactly the way you train and this is certainly true when it comes to Mark. He tries hard in class and this paid dividends at his grading. Well done.


New JKS Nidans

Grace Baron – Our amazing Grace never disappoints. I could go on about all the reasons why she has got to where she has all day long. I don’t think there is enough room on the page to describe just how good she is, or how proud we are to have been along this journey with her. Grace came to us, cripplingly shy, with zero self confidence due to being horribly bullied at school. The transformation over the last few years as astounding; as it is inspiring. I do not say this lightly that Grace is the epitome of the perfect karate student. She is dedicated and pushes herself to the maximum. She will not accept where she is, she is always seeking perfection and will do whatever it takes to improve. She never stops practising and knows there are no shortcuts to success. Grace is on her own path and has done everything the hard way.

Her journey has made her humble. She tenacious, dogged and 100% determined to reach the top of this sport. And she has the ability and work ethic to make it. We are so proud of her in every way, not only is her karate becoming truly world-class, she remains well grounded. She’s kind and patient with others and a truly inspirational Cadet Leader. We must give a lot of the credit to both Mike and Michelle for guiding her, enabling her to achieve great things, being supportive but never pushy and making sure that she keeps those feet firmly on the ground. You share in Grace’s success and must be extremely proud. Grace also owes gratitude to her training partners and those who practise with her. The group of superstars who push each other know who they are and each and every one of you are so important to one-anothers progression. Keep paving the way for all the other young girls, because you are the best role model we could ask for. This girl is just 13. She is crazy good! Don’t ever change and well done.

I will not apologise for Grace having a very long write up, anyone who witnessed her karate yesterday will understand why. And if you don’t, get your glasses out!

Debbie Carter –  Debbie is a wonderful Instructor and always puts herself last. We couldn’t be happier that she set herself this goal to try for her Nidan. Because Debbie is such an inspiration to others. She set her goal, did the hard work and successfully passed her Nidan. I’m sure that it probably hasn’t sunk in and she still can’t believe it, but you did it missus and you were very good indeed. Debbie has trained for such a long time and really deserved this. Her karate is strong and she has overcome so much both physically and emotionally to earn this grade. We are so happy for you. I don’t think I have seen anyone so nervous in my entire life, you must start believing in yourself after this. You did it and there’s no doubt you will have inspired others to try to achieve what they deem to be impossible too. Well done Debbie, what a star!

Hannah Whalley – Hannah is the very first of the Darwen crew to achieve her Nidan and the last one standing from the original crew who graded. Hannah has been training consistently hard since the last grading and really knows her stuff. There is a naturally quality to her karate that just can’t be taught. She moves beautifully and has a really nice style that is difficult to put into words. She’s sharp and dynamic, but at the same time elegant and harmonious. Don’t be fooled though because she’d turn your lights out if she wanted to! Hannah put in an excellent performance at the grading and will have inspired her whole class to follow in her footsteps. There’s no magic to it, its just hard work, listening, improving through consistent training. You did brilliant Missus and I bet Nicola Holland is one very happy former Instructor. Well done Hannah.

Phillip Burton – Phill Burton has shown us all how you take a knock down and get right back up, fight hard and become absolutely brilliant. Phill did not pass his Shodan first time around and just passed at the 2nd attempt. But what a transformation. Phill trains every single day. And when I say trains – I mean he comes to karate and works hard. It is not a social event for Phill, I mean, you are lucky if you get a hello. He comes to karate night after night, to put the effort in and gets better every single lesson. As much as I like to tease Phill at classes for being quiet, he is a very talented young man with an undeniable gift for karate. His performance at grading was very spirited and both Alan Sensei and Wendy Sensei recognised and appreciated the transformation. Job well done Phill, you thoroughly deserve your Nidan. Congratulations.

Louis Standring – Louis has been training with us for almost 10 years. I’m not going to lie, him and his brother liked to be pain in the backside in the early years but now, they are both a pleasure to teach (most of the time haha!). Really fun, really nice and really talented students. Louis has had a long journey with lots of ups and downs, but in the last 3-4 years he has been taking his karate very seriously and improved immeasurably. It is hard to believe he is only 16. He came out fighting yesterday and I was so pleased for him that he was successful. He was made to work for it and got injured in the process but I’m sure if he’d have got called back up, he’d have gone another 5 rounds because he has that dogged determination that you need to succeed. I would hope that this will give Louis the confidence boost he needs to take his karate to the next level, because he has all the ability in the World. Well done mate.


Brandon Lee – Such an easy one to write! We could not be happier that Brandon passed his Sandan on his own turf in front of everyone who knows him and absolutely loves him. Brandon attempted his Sandan back in March under Kagawa Sensei. He passed his Kata and did well, then met a certain Mr Tom Little Sensei (JKS England Kumite Champion, Matt Sensei’s right-hand man and all round kumite madman). Needless to say it was always going to be hard to look good against Tom and Brandon was asked to retake his kumite. He has been working very hard in the gym with Sensei Paul, Sensei Callum and I doing all sorts of fitness classes to improve his stamina and explosive power. He came out fighting hard and much improved. His movement was better and he looked much sharper than last time out.

We are delighted that he passed not only because we now have another Sandan, but because he has spent his whole karate journey here with us. Starting out at white belt down at the Chesham class back in 2006. He was about 14 years with a chip on his shoulder and a whole lot of enthusiasm. He hasn’t changed one bit! He was the first to complete the Assistant Instructor programme and the first to transition from cadet to assistant to Class Instructor.  Over the years, he has trained consistently and has become very good at karate now. He has a big following of students as one our full time Instructors and continues to inspire children to take up the sport at School assemblies with Sensei Paul. (Although I’m sure they enjoy the McDonalds breakfast and the toe-curling banter in the car more than doing the actual demos). We’ve watched him grow into a kind, honest, hard working, genuine and absolutely HILARIOUS adult who we are proud to call our friend. He’s gone from the red rocket to the tangerine with plenty of speeding tickets in between!

We are so proud of Brandon and the work that he does here. He is Red Tiger through and through and we hope that he will continue to follow in our footsteps to set and achieve more goals. He has the knowledge and ability to further and further with his karate and we hope that he continues to develop over the next few years and join me at Yondan or perhaps train in Japan! There is so much opportunity here and Brandon is our first home grown SANDAN. Well done!