Well, I’ve graduated to the 6th Kyu and have a shiny new yelow belt.


The grading session was pretty interesting. All I really knew going in was which Katas i’d need to be able to performs and a handful of questions that I might get asked. The session started as usual at the GWL dojo at 4:30pm with the typical line drills and a few calestenics. However, I was very aware I was the center of attention. Sensai was watching quite closely and correcting my technique.

Then things started to get interesting! Kakomi kumite sparing where 5 karateka participate. One in the center and the other four around in a circle. A sequence techniques are called out and the peson in the middle executes the techniques in an “H” pattern, facing each of the four outside “attackers” in turn. Did I mention that all my fellow karateka are black belts of various levels? I’m in the center, repeatedly, for i think 4 or perhaps 5 rounds. Then it’s 3 or 4 rounds of Renzoku kumite, a face to face straight line kata. I’m always involved and other balck belt students get substituted in. It’s a very fast pace with no breakes in between, apparently quite intentional to see how you preform under a bit of pressure and exhaustion.

Next are my required 4 katas. Each is performed 3 times. The first two times it’s the whole class together with me in the centre of the line, first facing one way then facing the other way for the second. The third, I’m alone and everyone is watching. Things go well for the first 2 katas which I feel are pretty solid. Did I mention I’m getting tired at this point? 

On the 3rd, the one I lovingly refered to as “rookie yuckie” when I was fisrt learning it falls apart a bit on one of the turns. I’d practiceds the heck out of those turns, but hey, stuff happens. I carry on and the second half of the kata goes fairly well. 

Somewhere in the whole process we also did Sanchin a couple of times, complete with getting smacked at various times (Shime testing). 

Suddenly it’s over. After 90 minutes of non-stop work, we’re done. I get my review and feedback which was quite positive along with some areas for improvements. Hey, at this level, there is a lot of room for improvement. But, given a November start apparently, I’ve progressed very well. 

After the review it’s the presentation of my certificate and yellow belt and time for a few photos.

Right after this there are about 20 minutes left in the class and it’s right into “Here is the next kata you need to learn for orange belt”. 

Let the journey continue. 

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