Earlier in my karate career I would listen intently to my Sensei talk of ‘training-up’ for a grading and peaking at the appropriate time. It was a skill that fascinated me. When our Dojo was small this was easy to manage as you only had a handful of students to oversee and each class was an exercise of leading from the front. It was somehow my personal responsibility. As the dojo grew so to did that challenge. Teaching became more consultative and less hands on. I realised that the time and effort spent with the original students delivered payback in the form of example and momentum. At this stage the established students drive the class and the newer members development, the role of Sensei changes to ensure all are steered in the right direction.
Our association will be four years old in May. In many ways our development over this time reflects that of our clubs. The five of us have driven forward powered by our passion for affective karate and positive people. Consequently, perhaps inevitably, we continue to attract like-minded people and we can now empower others to delver insight and inspiration.
During our recent event we taught the Kyu Grade course, then it was a great pleasure to line up with our students in the Black and Brown-Belt class and train with Sensei Chris Carr. Throughout the day the sports hall was full of people and energy in abundance. It was nice to train and sweat alongside our students in an environment of mutual learning. Whilst training I had one of those ‘pride-burst’ moments when you realise you are now having to consciously move faster than the student who is snapping at your heels. You pull them up then they push you along.
In the build up to an event we all work together to ensure that our students are ready. After all, fitness, sharpness and peak performance are a must for grading day..... or are they? Previously I would always have answered; ‘yes, of course!’. However I realised something at yesterday’s grading. Performance is temporary, progress is permanent. At the grading there were some stand out performances, not least Victoria Street achieving her Shodan Black belt. But during the day it was clear that the vast majority are genuinely progressing and pushing forward and this is extremely compelling.
Karate reflects the normal challenges of life and each individual develops relative to their own personal challenges and limitations. What is clear from our gradings and courses is that in the AKA progress is championed over temporary performance. In an age where social media is full of karate-ka photographed at the end of a class without breaking a sweat, it is refreshing to be surrounded by individuals who are fitter and more capable by the moment, dripping in sweat and high on the result of their efforts.
So to all of our members who progressed yesterday, if your personal challenges are big, start by thinking big. Leap over those puddles with enthusiasm and soon enough you will jump the river, remember it is all relative.
Stay positive, keep trying.... You inspire us to be better.