When will you be ready to grade for your "Kuro Obi" (Black Belt), after 3 years, 4 years, 5 years...?
At this weekends Black and Brown belt training Campbell Sensei gave some clear direction, he was talking about Jiyu Ippon Kumite and said you are ready when you can take the Black Belt from your training partner.
In the cult TV series Kwai Chung Caine would not be ready to leave the temple until he could take the pebble from Master Can's hand, you must step up to the mark and take that Black Belt.
It does not just apply to Jiyu Ippon Kumite.
What do Gohon Kumite, Sandon Kumite, Kihon Ippon Kumite, Jiyu Ippon Kumite and Jiyu Kumite have in common?
The word Kumite, all should be performed with the same budo spirit.
As A Brown Belt you should be a dangerous and hungry opponent for any Black Black.
Sensei Simon from Haxby was particularly good at this (and still is, but don't let him know). It does wonders to raise the game of Black Belts to have a hungry Brown Belt trying to take your Black Belt away.
Jim reminded me at the weekend of the particularly enjoyable Jiyu Ippon Kumite session with Simon for I think his 2nd or 1st Kyu grading. I can say that we both really went for it, which came as a bit of a surprise for the parents of the junior grades who wondered what the hell was going on. Simon thought he had completed his block and counter at one point, he did not move away so with out thinking Ashi Bari, gyaku zuki. I think it got a bit scrappy at times, but it was definitely budo.
As Campbell Sensei said you will not be given a Black Belt, you need to take it.
Not everyone will want it enough, young Tom Smith from Haxby has got a lot to teach our Brown Belts. From the second he lined up for his Shodan grading in front of the JKS chief instructor Kagawa Sensei he was TAKING a black belt home, there was no doubt in his mind at all. When you can follow Tom's example, you will be ready and if you are not ready, do not step on the line and present yourself for grading.
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A traditional Shotokan Karate Club training at Barlby High School, Barlby, near Selby, North Yorkshire, England YO8 5JP, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6.30pm.
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