Club 5: Wantage & Vale SKC

Hello all. It’s been a while – my last blog was back in April! The good news is, after more rest and physio…I am now easing myself slowly back into training! Back in my dogi…back in the dojo…where I feel most at home.

Friday 28th October 2022

And where better to kick start my journey again but at our newest club – Wantage and Vale SKC in Oxfordshire – and what a great addition to Shotokan Connect they are. A very friendly and welcoming club. Although the club only joined us in December 2021, they have been teaching karate for over 30 years, courtesy of Sensei Sanjay Padhiar, Pete Rees, Barry Knight and Alan Fisher.

I joined them for a pre-grading training session, led by Sensei Sam Birch, assisted by Sensei John Parnell. A fantastic session as you’d expect from two very talented instructors.

Pre-grading nerves aside, everyone trained really hard. I can’t speak for anyone else in the session, but I found it particularly fascinating how when I paid particular focus to one area of my karate, in this instance, making sure my heel stayed on the ground as I stepped through, how other elements went awry!  All part of the learning journey I guess!

Here’s a photo of us at the end of the session, looking slightly tired and sweaty!

Now it was time for the grading! Not sure why everyone was so nervous, it was clear how much prep everyone had put in beforehand.

Before we move on to the grading results, I would like to refer back to the feeling of nervousness – something each and every one of us can relate to! Whether it be before a grading or competition; walking into a new dojo for the first time; first day in a new job or school; before a presentation….the list is endless. I’m sure many of us can think of an occasion where our nerves got the better of us! Where am I going with this I can hear you asking? I was intrigued to watch how different karateka handled their nerves while they were waiting to start their grading. Some people took themselves off to get in some last-minute practice; a few sat quietly on their own to clearly focus their mind on the challenge ahead; others engaged in conversation and exchanged words of encouragement. It was amazing to witness the different coping mechanisms and the respect of individual preferences amongst the karateka.

My final observation – as people lined up in front of the grading panel, everyone was nervous. Perfectly natural. As soon as the grading started though, you could see the nerves disappear. The determination and hours of dedicated practice shone through.

So how did they get on? They all nailed it – of course they did! The standard was very high, and I’m pleased to report it was success all round. Very well deserved – congratulations to you all.

Look at these photos….they tell you everything you need to know:

Final thoughts…

Another great experience, another fantastic Shotokan Connect club, and who knew that nerves are actually of benefit to us all. It’s certainly not how it feels at the time. Most people get nervous before a grading or competition but if we learn to channel our nervous energy, it provides us with additional oomph to make our performance more dynamic and sharper!!