TKF saw a total of 9 students attempt to grade and successfully pass their 1st Dan and 2nd Dan on Sunday 4th July and Saturday 10th July as part of the first JKS Dan Gradings since lockdown.
Since restrictions had been lifted and it was announced that JKS would be holding Black Belt gradings for the first time this year. JKS (Japan Karate Shotorenmei) are the governing body to which TKF are affiliated to along with many other clubs across the country. Normally, TKF would conduct our own gradings but when it comes to grading for Black Belt and beyond, JKS hold specific Dan gradings during the year where all affiliated clubs send their readily prepared students who have completed many years of training and are required to perform in front of a panel of JKS instructors which mostly consists of the Head of JKS England along with other instructors of a high caliber within the association.
The first grading took place on Sunday 4th July in Harrow where there was a pre grading course which was taken by the head of JKS England, Alan Campbell. Throughout the course, the main focus was on being able to perform simple moves correctly and concentrating on getting the most out of each technique. This was then implemented into kata where Alan took the group through Bassai Dai which is a popular kata performed at Dan gradings. To finish off, he gave the group a couple of kumite (sparring) drills which were performed without a partner due to Covid restrictions.
Following the course, the grading took place which was a nervy atmosphere as the last time students had graded was more than a year ago. Students were drilled through all their kihon first before then moving on to kumite and finishing on kata. The most nerve racking part of the day is the waiting around before the final results are called. Thankfully, all the graders (named below) successfully passed!
The second grading was the following weekend on Saturday 10th July in Grantham. Due to restrictions, the course was very limited to how many were able to train in the dojo but this didn’t stop JKS from pulling off a well organized course and grading. The course was significantly shorter compared to the previous weekend with the Head of JKS leading the course once again. This time round, Alan focused on relaxing the shoulder whilst punching and also linking this to using the shoulder to get the most power possible out of the punch. A common mis-understanding is that physically trying to punch harder doesn’t always result in a strong punch. Relaxing the punch leading up to contact and then using kime or ‘breathing’ and ‘tensing’ correctly would result in a much stronger and more stable punch.
Thankfully, as this course wasn’t as intense, the graders were able to preserve their energy and fully focus on what mattered. The graders (named below) cruised through their gradings with confidence and were able to fully complete the tasks that were asked of them with a few positive bits of feedback coming from the JKS instructors.
TKF are very proud of each student who managed to successfully grade for their Black Belt 1st Dan and 2nd Dan especially as the circumstances over the past year have not been easy. Each student pulled through with grit and determination to achieve a fete which not all students are able to achieve. For every 100 students who start karate as a beginner, only 1 of those makes it all the way to Black Belt. For those who have passed their Black Belt… Your journey has only just begun…
Successful Dan Grades