52 enthusiastic karatekas take part in Record breaking grading

Students from Sennen and Marazion Karate clubs packed the venue resulting in our biggest grading turnout for over 20 years!!

With such a large number of students in attendance ranging in age between 4-16 it was always going to prove tricky logistically to organise the grading in a way where all students would be graded fairly and have the same level of scrutiny on them as each other. Thankfully we had several instructors on hand to help out.

I, Luke Jackson (Sennen Karate Club Instructor and 5th Dan Black Belt) was joined by Clive Double (Cornwall Area Head Coach and 7th Dan Black Belt), Denzil Searle (Marazion Karate Club Instructor and 4th Dan Black Belt) and Finn Edwards a Black Belt from Sennen Karate Club.

Due to the number of students it would of been almost impossible for the 4 instructors to watch and assess every student, so for that reason it was decided that each instructor would be responsible for a group of 10-14 students who they would be examining over the course of the grading. Clive was responsible for grading the higher graded students, Denzil grading the majority of the yellow belt students and Finn and myself grading a group of mainly white belts.

The grading was lead by myself, with the emphasis on ensuring we got through the required schedule in the time frame allocated. Throughout the grading i was responsible for giving the instructions to all the students on what techniques they had to demonstrate to their instructor. Each of the instructors could then tailor the technique to the level of the students they were examining, for example when the students were asked to demonstrate their stances in the correct order this was challenging enough for most of the white belts to cope with, however most yellow belts would probably of found it quite easy and the higher grades very easy so it was up to the examiners to ensure the students were doing a version of the technique that would not only test their knowledge but would also test their ability too.

The first 45 minutes the focus of the grading was on the basics, as always these are the most important to get correct. A white belt who gets these wrong then its no big deal, however a green or blue belt getting these wrong would be a cause for concern. Included in the basics was punching to various targets, stances, palm heel striking, various kicks, striking with different parts of the fist in multiple directions, blocking, avoidance and break falls.

Next up was paired up activities where students had to demonstrate how good their cooperation and movement was and show they could control their techniques. First up students took it in turn to be the “attacker” where the aim was to try and tap your opponents head, whilst the “defender” had to use the correct technique to avoid the strike. Next up students took it in turn to act purely as a static target whilst the other was moving around them doing all the techniques they knew without making any contact.

After our paired up activities I had the students do some stepping across the hall, which usually is quite easy, however today with 52 students it was hard to squeeze them all in. However we managed it and on command they had to step across the hall performing given combinations focusing on strong stances, good posture, and correct application of their techniques. Several combinations were given to the students with more advanced combinations given to the higher grades.

As the grading was nearing its end there was still time to do some pad work and katas. Students formed a line in front of their instructor who held a pad, each student had to strike the pad with the technique they were asked to use. Often this is a good indication of how good someones technique is as you often see a technique change when it comes to hitting a pad, as the students tend to focus more on hitting the pad with power apposed to correct technique. Katas followed, with everyone who knew the basic katas having to perform them as a group in front of the examiners and the lower graded students. Phillippa who was going for her Blue Belt was asked to call the Katas.

In the blink on an eye the grading had concluded and it was time for the students to get a welcome rest and some refreshments whilst the examiners had the difficult job of deciding their fait.

The Results

A big well done to everyone who attended and passed their grading today, you should be really proud of yourselves. It’s great to see the improvement you all continue to make each and every week. The stand out student from todays grading was, Dylan Harradine who despite only training for 7 hours narrowly missed out on his yellow belt but put in a super performance and was awarded 3 tags, definitely one to watch for the future!!! 

If you would like to find out more about our gradings , the process involved and the system we use please check out our Belt and Grading System which will hopefully help answer any questions you may have.

A couple observations from looking through the 100s of photos my sister took during todays grading. Two of the main things that need improvement are hand positions when kicking, there were not many in the correct ready position or guard, and the other is to make sure you are looking at the target you are aiming your technique at, too many photos show students looking in the opposite direction to where their attacks are going.