Grading for students

Whitby Shotokan Karate Club students
Whitby Shotokan Karate Club students

Whitby Shotokan Karate Club held its summer grading for 2013 at Airy Hill School, where students ranged from Novice to senior Brown Belts.

The examining panel was formed by six of the club’s black belt instructors namely Senseis Mike Howard 4th dan, Jim White 3rd dan, Chris Watmouth 3rd dan, Daniel Howard 2nd, Ian Henderson 1st dan and Luke Richardson 1st dan.

A full hour’s training and warm-up exercises started for all grades, followed by the examination of six novice candidates who had to show they could perform the basic forward punch and the four basic blocks while moving forward in a standard Shotokan karate stance.

The white belt students had to perform all the basic karate skills from simple punching blocking and kicking techniques to the more technical applications of Kihon Kata (basic forms).

Each grading at junior level wins the student a coloured tag on the white belt until three tags are achieved before they progress to the first coloured belt (orange) then two tags from orange to red belt.

The orange belts were next to line up and they performed slightly more active karate techniques.

These included punching and blocking while moving backwards. They also had to practice five-step sparring with an opponent and demonstrate their knowledge of Kihon and Heian Shodan katas.

The red belt grading followed where the students had to demonstrate their newly-learned red belt skills to the panel. At this stage, three-step sparring is introduced which consists of prearranged sparring, including a forward kick against an opponent.

This was followed by the red belt Kata Heian Nidan.

The yellow belt grading is a bit more complex where some complicated combinations had to be performed followed again by five and three step sparring with opponents.

At this level, the students have learned the reverse punch and Sanbon ren tzuki or three rapid punch techniques. They had to demonstrate the more advanced kick Mawashi geri or round house kick followed by their three katas Kihon. Heian shodan and Heian nidan.

The green belt students had to perform more advanced kicks, blocks and punches followed by some complicated combinations, then free sparring techniques and their grading kata Heian sandan.

There were four purple belt students going for purple and white bel with lots of intricate combinations and advanced kicks. They also had to perform Ippon Kumite, an advanced single step combat practice against an opponent with punches, blocks kicks and counter attacks, and all five Heian katas.

This level of karate is the introduction of actual combat and the student is now in a position where they are competent at defending themselves. It is still a long road to the black belt grading but they have now taken a major step in the climb.

Finally, the brown belt grading which is now quite advanced in the Shotokan syllabus and a demanding grading where physical fitness and fighting ability are tested. Students must have a firm knowledge of Shotokan and the beginning of black belt advanced kata.

The grand finale of this grading the student has to free fight some black belt and brown belt club members.

The idea of the belt system is to encourage progress in stages from beginner to the converted black belt by making steady advancement while learning all the necessary skills and commitment required of a black belt in Shotokan karate.

The standard of the grading again in the Whitby Club were second to none and all students performed to the satisfaction of the panel.

These students gained their awards: from Novice to 1st Mon (White Belt + 1 yellow tag) Jack Mackinder, Layla Symm, Rebecca Sulivan, Sky Buckley and Ben Elcoate; from 1st Mon to 2nd Mon (White Belt) Adam Hodgson, Ben McArthy, Ellie Gibbon, Joseph Mann, Kiaren Dormer, Lyall Snow and Skylar Tyreman; from 2nd Mon to 3rd Mon (White Belt) Alex Nichols, Amy Ward, Joshua Davies, Lexie Fitzgerald and Sam Reynolds; from 3rd Mon (White Belt) to 4th Mon (Orange Belt) James Howard, Jordan Peart and 9th Kyu Zeshan Younas; from Orange Belt 1 tag to Orange Belt 2 tags Abbie Taylor, Katie Hogarth, Sonny McDermott, Aidan Marsey and Jamie Pybus; from 4th Mon to 5th Mon Orange to 6th Mon 3 tags Ebony Allison, Joshua Tinkler and Alfie Barbar; from 6th Mon to 7th Mon (Orange Belt + 3) to (Red Belt) Daisy Stokoe, Eve Mortimer, George Peirson, Joseph Peirson, Kai Snow, Lewis Brown, Oliver Gower and Charlotte Kerr; from 7th Mon to 8th Mon Red + 2 black tags, Evie Hearley- Tull and Harry Foster.

Four purple Belts battled their way to purple / white, namely Alex Crank, Ben Locker Reece Doudican and Rory McFarlane. Billy Fannan and Callum Walker were promoted to 2nd Kyu (Brown /White Belt.

Sam Locker proved him self-worthy of 1st Kyu Brown Belt and his next grade will be for the coveted Black Belt.

Whitby Shotokan Club trains twice weekly at Airy Hill Primary School Mondays and Thursday.Contact Mike Howard on (01947) 604861, Jim White 820378 or Chris Watmough 821579.