Following two days of intense training on Friday 6th March and Saturday 7th March, Danny managed to successfully pass his JKS 5th Dan Grading in front of Kagawa Shihan.

In a packed out two day course in Nottingham where the infamous Kagawa Shihan, 9th Dan, Head of the JKS organisation, Japan International Coach and basically ‘the real deal’ made his annual trip to the UK to show his amazing understanding of technical ability and once again sharing is great knowledge to the lucky participants of the JKS Course. Among the participants was TKFs very own Danny Jordan who having previously graded in front of Kagawa for his 4th Dan was back to grade for his 5th Dan.

The course on Friday evening started off with Kagawa working on basic techniques and explained about being natural with techniques which is a way of explaining that moves can become robotic and stiff during many years of training. Further on, hip movement was covered within those basic moves and applying those techniques in different directions. One of the things all students must realise as well is that these courses, no matter how highly ranked the instructor is, they will always refer to the basic simple moves. This is seen as the fundamentals of karate and the most important parts of any karate training. The course progressed further with other exercises being introduced with kicking practise, kicking exercises and partner work which proved to be a tough workout as well as a good technical overview. The course finished off with kata, very simply, Heian Shodan. Again, mainly working on the fundamentals and the dynamics of the turns in the kata. Danny was told to demonstrate several times during the course, whilst Kagawa corrected his technique, and everyone watched. Danny wasn’t fazed at all and was able to perform what was asked of him from Kagawa in front of the whole group.

The following day, with the course fully booked up this day and gradings just around the corner, started off as Kagawa means to go on. Covering kihon for the first section of the course with relaxing exercises to keep the shoulders relaxed whilst also performing basic kihon drills. There is never a course without some kind of crazy workout in the middle, this course didn’t disappoint with Kagawa instructing the group to perform many squats and leg strengthening exercises followed by kicking drills for an extended amount of time. This all stems from how the training happens back in the JKS Headquarters in Japan. There is a lot of kihon drills and a lot of body weight exercises which are done to strengthen your whole body which is then applied into your karate. Another thing that stems from traditional Japanese training is repetition. Repetition of the basic moves is what makes these guys so good at what they can do, and Kagawa is a representation of this. All the exercises that had been covered then lead to a ‘Kata Master Class’ where the kata Gojushiho Sho was the topic and power generation was the main point of explanation. Who better to demonstrate some excellent kata techniques in front of Kagawa, Danny once again found himself in the spot light having to demonstrate certain parts of the kata while Kagawa explained what he wanted to see from certain techniques as well as picking up certain technical elements of Danny’s kata. What a great way to prepare yourself for a grading when you have ‘The Boss’ telling you how to perform a kata when everyone watches!! Finishing off the day with some kumite drills it was safe to say that everyone had a good four hours of karate… but it wasn’t over for some students…

The dust had settled and those who were preparing to grade were the only ones left standing whilst everyone else moved away, sat and were eager for a spectacle. Danny was feeling confident, after many hours of training and preparation for this day, he was ready to take on the challenge. Danny would be the only one to grade for his 5th Dan whilst the others would grade for their 3rd or 4th Dans respectively. As part of his 5th Dan syllabus he has to perform a kata of his choice, a kata chosen by the grading panel which would be one of the 26, not a mistype, one of the 26 shotokan katas and kumite (free sparring) against the fellow graders. Danny stepped up and performed the kata he was most confident with, Nijushiho. A kata he has performed ever since he was a brown belt and one he has perfected over the years so it was safe to say he was very confident of his ability in this kata. Danny performed it brilliantly and awaited instructions from Kagawa Shihan. Kagawa had chosen the kata Gojushiho Sho as the kata of choice for Danny to perform, which was perfect as they had covered this in the course and was also one of Danny’s other strongest katas. It is a technically demanding kata which includes several turns which must be executed dynamically and finished with good composure. This didn’t faze Danny as he was able to perform the kata solidly and with great composure. Kumite followed and Danny had to go head to head to two other graders. The fights only last around 30 seconds with several stoppages so it was a case of being able to show what you’ve got in a short space of time. Danny’s words were ‘the fights were scrappy, but they got the job done’. The job was certainly done, Kagawa had seen everything he needed to see so he lined up all the graders and the announcements were made. Danny had successfully passed his JKS 5th Dan and joins the ranks of the Senior Instructors of JKS England, and TKFs very own 5th Dan Black Belt. A boy who started karate at a mere 10 years old, starting his karate journey 20 years ago, a journey that isn’t even complete, and a journey that he must continue. Karate… the endless journey.