22 April 2015
On Wednesday 22nd April 2014 seven students from the Shotokan Karate Ryu (SKR) gathered at the St John’s Dojo in Stansted Mountfitchet to attempt their 1st Dan (Black Belt) and one student to attempt his 2nd Dan.
The examination (Grading) panel was chaired by Sensei Dave Sharkey (8th Dan), one of the most Senior Karate-ka in Europe, Chief Instructor of the English Karate Organisation (EKO) and Chairman of the European Karate Organisation Governing Body (EKOGB). Also on the panel was Sensei Michael Ring (5th Dan), the Chief Instructor of the Shotokan Karate Ryu (SKR) and Sensei Donna Ring (4th Dan) SKR Chief Instructor of Juniors. Between them the examiners have over 90 years Karate experience
The grading commenced with Kihon (basics) where Dan grade candidates were asked to perform at full speed and power a sequence of five or more techniques given in Japanese. The rapid fire combinations came thick and fast, and after 15 minutes of non-stop action the Dan grade candidates acquitted themselves well.
The students were then asked to demonstrate their Grading Kata (formal exercise) chosen from the 11 first Dan Kata. They were then asked to perform Kata of the examiners choice from the same list. The Kata list for the 2nd Dan candidate was longer at 16 Kata, the 11 first Dan Kata’s plus the five 2nd Dan Kata.
Students then partnered up for the Kumite (sparring drills), performing defences against full speed and power attacks to: Jodan (face), Chudan (Body), and Keri (kicking), including Mae Geri (front kick), Yoko Geri (side kick), Mawashi Geri (Roundhouse kick), Ushiro Geri (turning kick) and Ashi Barrai (leg sweep). After a barrage of attacks and counters, kick and punches, Sensei Sharkey called Yamae (finish) and the candidates had on a minutes respite to prepare for the final stage of their grading, Free fighting.
Dan grade candidates donned mitts and gum shields for the first time in the examination as they mentally prepared themselves for Jiyu Kumite (free sparring) where they would have to face 3 or more consecutive opponents attacking at full speed and power, and demonstrating the ability to both attack, defend and counter attack using good control. As Yamae was called on the final fight the candidates, physically, mentally, and emotionally tired were allowed to rest while the panel retired to consider the Karate-do they had seen.
Having discussed the performance of each Dan grade candidate the panel agreed unanimously the following results: Jacqui Mauroo, Sylvia Raynor, Fiona Smink, Luc Smink, Isabel Smink (10), Jessica Utton (13) and Matthew Ryan (12) from the Stansted Mountfitchet Dojo 1st Dan Black Belt. Lewis Trow (14), who began his Karate training in the SKR Tiger Tots program aged 4, passed 2nd Dan.
Sensei Sharkey commented: “This was another excellent result. The students attempting black belt demonstrated the strong technique and excellent control I have come to expect from the Shotokan Karate Ryu. It is good to see the already high standards at black belt being maintained. I was very pleased with the robust and spirited display of traditional Karate-do.”