What an amazing day!
We were really put through our paces: we were treated to a Mr O’Brien warm up; some demonstrations (including Thomas performing Chinto solo: very proud mum 😀 ); rotating sections for creative/kama kata, traditional kata, and take-downs at speed!; Master Danby and his fantastic, LOUD fitness drill — special congratulations to Mr Dyer for opening his mouth before engaging his brain & volunteering to do 50 press-ups 😮 ; Sensei Diane and Master Hurcombe and their HARD CORE boxing drill torture chamber; and penultimately some serious sparring with Master Plant.
With fewer graduating than last time, it felt more manageable…at least initially.
Both kata sections went well: I botched my creative but not too badly, and nearly botched Kushanku, but was saved by a friendly hiss: “turn-block-kick” from the sidelines.
Not only did I choose the most challenging kata I know, I didn’t have heart failure. That was it: the hardest bit was over!
Take-downs at speed and with little space is really difficult and we did have a bit of a pile-up: none of us could move in the 3D pyramidal jigsaw & I capped it all in a poor impression of downward dog. Thankfully I was hoiked off by the belt like an errant toddler. The fitness drills were gruelling, but with teamwork we smashed it all…dripping sweat on the floor all the way. Next was the torture chamber. Anyone who has enjoyed one of Sensei D’s padwork sessions will be unsurprised to learn that this was the toughest section yet.
I was glad again that kata had been dealt with.
A new technique (Taekwondo?) squat+up+roundkick without moving your back foot was truly impossible. I was only glad my drill partner was Sensei Passfield: he kept me honest, but knew my limitations and was extremely supportive.
Sparring was great fun, but exhausting. Naturally I got kicked in the head numerous times, but most notably by Sempai Emily, who has a mean hook kick even when she has lost her kiais 😉
It was during sparring that Miss Emma Stone, grading to 3rd Dan, demonstrated again what she is made of. Despite hours of EXTRAORDINARILY tough grading, she was still able to keep going, and get those points in.
The final hurdle for us grading to our next (or first) Dan were the kicks & punches. I ‘only’ had to do 1,000 of each. It was tougher than I had imagined: several hours on the go had taken it out of me somewhat. I have to thank all those supporting me while I finished my grading, in particular Mr Leipnik for constant motivation, Miss P for counting punches, Sensei Gibbons for promoting me, but most of all my pad holders: Lee (who had no idea how hard his job would be) and the lovely Sensei whose name I didn’t catch 😦 but who distracted me very successfully through the pain.
Congratulations to all who took part, not only those graduating, but also to the few coloured belts who had no idea what hit them, but kept at it anyway!