Clevedon Karate Kai

Dan Grading

03 July 2016

Today saw the Western Karate Union's annual summer Dan grading, at Bristol Dojo. Two candidates from Clevedon, Sarah Meredith and Donna Robertson, joined the other hopefuls. After years of learning, and over six months of highly intensive training to make the step up to black belt, the day arrived at last. This is how they fared.

S1430001 Sarah, far left, and Donna, next to her, bow in with the four other candidates for First Dan.

S1430003 Into the first stance of the grading, Hidari Gemai, and the nerves are jangling.

S1430007 Stepping through and preparing for blocks, sotouke…​

S1430013 …​and uchiuke.

S1430019 The lunging punch, junzuke no tsukkomi.

S1430026 Stepping through in preparation for the open-handed block, shutouke, and the mahanmi-no-nekoashi-dachi stance, which is nearly as difficult to do as it is to say.

S1430044 The snap-punch, tobikomizuki.

S1430056 The candidates are slightly more relaxed, but starting to tire now. Individual and combination kicks are shown, here mawashigeri.

S1430076 The one everyone hates, ushirogeri.

S1430086 The basic line skills have been covered. On to Pinan kata, starting with Pinan Nidan.

S1430091 Pinan Shodan.

S1430104 Pinan Sandan.

S1430108 Pinan Yondan.

S1430129 Pinan Godan - the airborne section…​

S1430134 …​and that’s the Pinan kata completed.

S1430139 They don’t get a rest, though. On to their first advanced kata, which for Sarah and Donna is the 72-step Kushanku.

S1430141 Their second advanced kata is the slightly more gentle Seishan. Now they do get a break, while the higher grades go through their paces.

S1430142 All grades are back on the mat in pairs, for their ippon demonstrations. Fortunately for the camera, Sarah and Donna are nearest it!

S1430145 Sarah evades Donna’s head punch.

S1430148 Roles reversed, Donna evades Sarah’s and counters…​

S1430151 …​ with a well-executed takedown.

S1430156 Donna counters another with a mawashigeri.

S1430157 Sarah deals with Donna’s maigeri…​

S1430160 …​and again, they swap roles.

S1430168 Sarah steps inside Donna’s mawashigeri and counters with a taisho palm-heel.

S1430186 The last action of the day is sparring, with the emphasis on control. The candidates must show that they are safe to be allowed on the mat to fight.

S1430187 Sarah and Donna start off against each other.

S1430190 Sarah throws some rangy kicks, and Donna counters strongly.

S1430192 They change opponents. Donna is up against one of the association’s best fighters, Sophie from Yeovil, while Sarah takes on Adam, from Colchester.

S1430195 Picking her opponents very poorly, Donna then squares up against Tad, from Broadwell, some 35 years her junior, and who has just put in an exemplary 2nd Dan grading. Sarah, meanwhile, spars with Nadia, from Yeovil.

S1430198 Is Donna intimidated? Hell, no!! As always, she gives it everything she’s got, and so does Sarah. They’ve both given their absolute all. Now the wait to see who has passed.

S1430200 The first name called out is Sarah. She’s passed! She shakes the hand of WKU Chief Instructor Alan Flook…​

S1430202 …​ and is handed the coveted black belt.

S1430209 We don’t have to wait long. Donna is called up next. She’s passed too!! She shakes Alan’s hand…​

S1430210 …​and proudly receives the black belt she’s worked so long and so hard for.

S1430213 Those things lying on the floor on the left are kyu-grade belts. They’re not needed any more. Clevedon’s two newest Shodans show off their hard-won trophies. Congratulations to both of them. Very, very well deserved.