It has been an eventful couple of weeks for all the students at BWCSK. As more coronavirus health restrictions were eased since the initial return to dojo training we were able to conduct our first full kyu and dan gradings. The gradings took place on three separate dates in order to try and give everyone who was ready and wished to the chance to take their gradings.  First up were a small group of juniors who took various kyu gradings from beginners to brown belts on the Thursday evening. There was a palpable sense of nervousness as the first group to grade lined up in the main hall of the Weoley Castle dojo waiting for their grading to begin.  Everyone has worked hard to get to that point and they all know that the result depends on how they perform at that moment.  We have all been there worrying if we will make a mistake or worse still go completely blank when we have to do our kata. However despite the nerves they soon got into the rhythm of the grading and their months of training kicked in and in the end everyone who graded that day was able to overcome their nerves and pass.

Next up was the main kyu gradings day that took place at the Bournville College dojo. This is a big hall that brought a bigger sense of occasion to the proceedings. Again there was the nervousness in the air but also a tangible sense of excitement as for many this was their first grading since starting. After some initial presentations  of renewed assistant instructor certificates and licenses to Sensei Michael Paul and Sensei Jacob McBride the day got underway. First there was a training session followed by the start of the gradings. There were a large number of gradings including our youngest student at five years old but everyone rose to the occasion and gave it their all and reaped the rewards of their dedication.

Finally with a weeks gap since the previous grading the advanced students going for grades from 1st kyu to 2nd dan gathered at Weoley Castle on Monday night. Due to the pandemic when some of those present took their shodan (1st dan) grading late last year they were unable to complete the full syllabus so as a club we decided to take the approach that  if they were able to pass the initial two thirds of the grading syllabus that was permitted under the rules in force at that time they could wear a black belt but until the final third was complete the grade would not be registered. So we had a few people who had come to complete their shodan grading. Also we had a number of existing shodan black belts who had been waiting until they could take a complete nidan (2nd dan) grading once restrictions were eased. Black belt gradings are never easy and failing part or all of the grading is not uncommon hence people usually take these after months of intense training once they are eligible which is several years between belts. Due to the unique circumstances of lock downs and restrictions this wasn’t possible which undoubtedly made a very stressful grading even harder than usual. The step up from brown belts to a black belt is a significant step and as you would expect the standard expected for each dan grade increases significantly to reflect the number of additional years of training and expected improvements in knowledge and technique. The techniques are complex, the sparring ferocious and the standard expected throughout is high, in an exam designed to test you both physically and mentally. As you’d expect with so many years training riding on a relatively short grading and the need to perform at your peak, you could feel the tension in the air. A black belt grading is a roller coaster of emotions as you examine every little thing you feel wasn’t quite right in the gaps between sections and switch between feelings of possible success and certain failure.  I am pleased to say that everyone succeeded in their goal and passed.

Well done everyone who graded, you did yourselves and your senseis proud. Special congratulations to our newest members of the yudansha who have achieved the rank of Shodan:

  • Lincoln Boult
  • James Newman
  • Paul Weston

We’d like to extend our very heartiest congratulations to the following students who achieved the rank of Nidan:

  • Angela Notice
  • Jacob McBride
  • Jiannan Yin
We Passed! Kyu & Dan Gradings June 2021

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