On a sweltering weekend, having trained hard at the previous day's Summer School, two Clevedon students stepped up for our association's bi-annual dan grading. Lewis Cocking, fresh from sitting his GCSEs, aimed to become only the second junior in the club's twenty-five year history to achieve second dan. Tori Cornish, meanwhile, looked to earn her black belt, and replace Lewis as the club's youngest current first dan. There was a surprise in store for a third Clevedon student as well. This is how it went.
WKU Chief Instructor Alan Flook gives the participants his customary pre-grading pep talk.
They are warmed up and stretched out...
... and then bow in for the grading itself.
Nerves are jangling as the basic techniques are demonstrated...
... but hard work and loud kiais help to keep them at bay.
Stepping through into a shuto-uke.
Lewis suffers the dreaded "belt-falling-off" moment, but doesn't allow it to affect him at all.
Tori deals effectively with the most difficult basic technique, ushirogeri, the "back kick"...
... as does Lewis.
Powerful mawashigeris from all the graders.
Straight from basics into the Pinan kata.
As they reach Pinan Sandan, it's starting to get very tiring.
The final Pinan kata, Godan. Tori winds up...
...then takes off!
Lewis (right) gets airborne as well.
Then on to advanced kata. Kushanku first.
Tori opts for Chinto second...
... and performs it excellently.
A third advanced kata is requested, and Lewis chooses Annan, while Tori goes for Seishan.
With no break, they move on to ippon techniques. Lewis evades and throws a nice countering hook kick.
Then he takes ippon partner Mark down...
... and finishes him off.
Behind them, Tori also takes down her partner, Sonia...
... who nearly also takes out Lewis as well!
On to sparring. Lewis and Tori match up against each other...
... then swap and take on a further three different opponents each.
The grading is over, and the students wait nervously to hear the results.
A very emotional Tori is called forward...
She can't hide the tears as Alan hands her the belt she's worked so many years for.
She is congratulated by a very proud Nigel.
Lewis is called forward, and is presented with his second dan certificate.
A handshake and a "well done" from Nigel.
An unexpected honorary second dan is awarded to Clevedon stalwart Camilla Hutchings.
The award reflects her long and valued service to club and association, and Nigel adds his thanks.
Everyone is smiling as the graders and awardees line up for the traditional team photo.
For Clevedon's young students, it has been a truly momentous day.