As we prepare for the customary celebrations of the season and look forward to embracing a new year, it is important to take a moment to reflect, remember, and appraise the year that has passed and in the context of the AKA quantify that which has or has not been achieved.
It has now been 19 months since our inception and like any new group we appreciate the formative years are pivotal. Behind the scenes our team has been establishing our foundation for growth, development and improvement. Our aim has been to ensure that we can drive our karate ability and understanding forward. To do so it was crucial that we were clear and focused on our goals for 2016 and beyond.
In the words of George Harrison: ‘And if you don't know where you're going any road will take you there’
Our first event of the year was our much anticipated Black-and-Brown-Belt-Course as it was our first to feature a Dan Grading examination for our members. Before the event great care and pride had been placed on the design, print and delivery of our bespoke Certificates. Likewise considered focus was placed on the development of our own syllabus to align our performance expectations and grading criteria with that of the ‘Mission Statement’ of the association.
Not everyone passed on the day but all carried themselves with pride and dignity. As Instructors it was great to see the development of friendships and friendly rivalries forged in Kumite and cemented by a hand-shake, smile and perhaps a hug to accompany the black-eyes and other minor injuries.
Starting in February our Kyu-Gradings necessitated bigger venues and we established a process for mentoring and appraising our Newer Instructors at these event. We also promoted a number of Squad focused competition classes to introduce our members to another facet of karate training and develop them in anticipation of future events. The enthusiasm for these sessions was confirmed in March when we smashed our charity target and donated in excess of £400 to Sport relief from the event.
The technical Panel continued to lead-by-example throughout the year training on open courses with prominent, pragmatic instructors. This ensured that their inspiration levels were refreshed and plenty of new concepts and insight could be filtered down to dojo training.
In May the Panel celebrated the first full year of the AKA alongside their wives, whose acceptance and understanding of our passion for karate supports the time we all put in to drive the association forward.
The summer saw the arrival of our new association gi badges which funded our fantastic web- site created by Sensei Galloway. It also delivered our summer competition where we show- cased adult Kumite for the first time and utilised our full investment in competition mats and equipment.
These competitions are an important stepping-stone for our next generation competitor and it was fantastic to see the support of our wider group as referees, judges, door monitors etc. We really couldn’t deliver these events without this ethos so thank you as ever to all, with a special mention to our long-time friend and Senior Chris Carr Sensei who offers his support and refereeing expertise to these events.
September saw our second Black-and-brown-belt –course of the year and the standard exhibited was excellent. Particularly by those who had been unsuccessful earlier in the year and displayed clear development and substantial improvement.
In November we hosted the World Class talent of Sensei Dave Hazard who left all inspired and enthused during his two day annual course.
December was a particularly busy month with our Christmas children’s competition being the busiest to date and the first to open its doors to those outside our association. Our long-time friend Sensei Colin Parker attended along with representatives from his dojo. They impressed all with their technical ability and etiquette. Once again we are grateful to all who assisted on the day in every capacity.
The day was extra special as it saw the acknowledgement of Sensei Keith Williams' dedication to karate with a presentation of his 5th Dan award by the AKA technical panel.
Enthusiasm for the competition was then reinforced by the camaraderie exhibited by all at our fantastic Christmas Dinner and dance organised by Kath Clay and Sharon Watson. It’s wonderful to see that our members can party as hard as they train.
So as we reflect on 2016 and ultimately push forward to the new year we can ask ourselves was this year a successful one for the AKA?
Well on behalf of the technical panel I can conclude the following:
We have worked hard this year on the definition of where we wish to ‘take the association’ going forward. As a consequence we have had a busy year with a number of benchmark ‘successes’. But ultimately we have seen a year of significant progress!
The Cambridge English dictionary defines progress as:- ‘Movement to an improved or more developed state’
We have certainly delivered on progress but strive for more in 2017. We are clear on our aspiration and as a consequence our direction.
Thank you to all our members, let’s stay focused and push forward in 2017. We know where we’re going and we want to take you there!