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9th May 2011

Special Grading Success. I am David Halliday, a 50 year old student belonging to the Shogeki Club, within the EKKA Association. I only started practicing Karate in 2003, so when 43 years of age, and not having studied or practiced any other form of martial art beforehand. My previous sports had been soccer, to county level as a schoolboy, and otherwise gym work to stay reasonably fit.

I used to suffer from sporadic back problems, the part cure for which was stretching, so when my daughter decided to take up Karate in 2003, I decided to join her, along with my son.

I found the sport was different to anything I had done before, and enjoyed the combination of discipline, and the challenge of perfecting techniques and remembering Kata sequences.

Grading as a red belt, and then learning the first Kata, I had no expectation at that time of reaching the heights of a 1st Dan, Black Belt, and marvelled at the skills and speed with which they were capable of sparring and performing Katas.

As I progressed over the 8 years, I began to wonder if indeed it might be possible to reach a senior grade, but still without the expectation of achieving "black". As a 2nd Kyu, I did begin to compete, albeit occasionally in both Kata and Kumite, having some success in both. This added to the growing feeling that perhaps it was possible to take this further than perhaps first thought.

I achieved my first Kyu in 2008, and continued with the occasional competition, mainly in Kata.

In December 2009, I took my Dan grading, and failed, mainly due to a mistake in Yuk Jang, but also due to weak technique. For a while I did not seriously consider a re-take, but through my determination to complete "unfinished business" along with much support and encouragement from Halstead, I gained in fitness and belief that I might just make it second time around.

For me the biggest lesson that I took from the journey from, white to black belt, is that Karate is not like team sport I had played before, but a martial art requires students to be committed to learning, and that your biggest opponent is actually yourself, in having the desire, self motivation, to train to a level which is worthy of a 1st Dan Black Belt.

Even with such determination, I also needed the extra push from Halstead to train hard and focus on the goal of grading. It is easy to find excuses of work load, or niggling injuries, to not train, and settle for second best, as a 1st Kyu.

For any student who has achieved a high grade, and has any second thoughts about continuing, I can only say, "go for it" without hesitation. The feeling of having gone through a nerve wracking and gruelling 4 hour grading, to then be called to the panel of judges to receive and wear a Black Belt for the first time, is something to be experienced! It gave me the feeling of achievement I cannot remember before. It is not easy, but worth every training session and grading to wear that Black Belt.

An enormous thanks to Halstead, for his big part in finally making it happen!!

26th March 2011

Grading Successes. Congratulations to our Stowupland karate students who graded on 26th March; Ben Godbold (12 kyu), Abby Godbold (12 kyu), Bethany Maundrell (8 kyu), Hal Ottley (7 kyu with distinction) and Owen Fayers (2 kyu). Well done to all the students.