The weekend of 25th March was the first of our quarterly gradings for 2017.
During the course of the weekend and the following week, Senior Examiners Bryan Andrews 6th Dan and Lindsey Andrews 4th Dan examined the following sessions
4 – 6 years old
6 – 9 years old
10 – 14 years old
Ladies Chinese Kickboxing
Combat Ju Jitsu
Congratulations to everyone who passed and earned their new belts. We never give belts away, they are always deserved. People often have to battle nerves, fear, sickness and themselves to pass. Gradings are a test and as such one has to earn the right to pass.
For all age groups, except 4 – 6 year old, all gradings are carried out at a special grading class held on a weekend outside the normal class times. Members are grouped according to age and ability to test with their peers. A beginners grading for 6 – 9 year olds would typically consist of a lesson to recap the key points to be covered during the grading itself, following on from that the children then are asked to come up in small groups to perform certain moves, drills or forms. As the children get more experienced and older, the lesson content decreases and they eventually end up testing for the whole two hours with increased expectations for demonstrating their skills and abilities. These gradings are very much a technical test of skills with pass or fail criteria and a minimum requirement for number of lessons and weeks between gradings.
6 – 9 year old passing their Orange and Gold belt – 9th Kyu
The smile says it all. Deserving and proud.
Ladies Kickboxing – upfront and centre showing their moves
Successful Ladies Chinese Kickboxing grading
Nice Kick to the pads
Children sparring during their grading
6 – 9 year old Higher belts who passed their grading
Learning a Martial Arts is a serious business
Little Dragons – 4 – 6 Years old passing their belts
Mid Judo grading – still time for a smile
Combat Ju Jitsu Grading for adults
British Judo Association grading upto 11th Mon
Final grading – some youngsters and some not so young = 2.5 hours of extremely hot work.
As parents we have an ability and even a responsibility to help our children to become confident. Confidence will lead them on the path to success.
Confidence is the belief in one’s ability to master your body, behaviour and the challenges you encounter in school, work and life generally. If our children believe in themselves, they will are willing to take more of the right kind of risks in life, accomplish their goals and accomplish more. Children who have good self esteem will find it easier to feel valued and accepted by family, friends and peers, they will be proud of a job well done and will feel good and thing good things about themselves and they will be more prepared for the challenges that they will face everyday.
None of us are born confident, it’s something we learn as we grow up and develop, regardless of a child’s situation or feelings. As parents we can help to improve our children’s self-confidence by giving them many opportunities to practice and master their skills. Let them make mistakes and be there to boost their spirits so they keep trying, even if they sometimes fail.
Have you heard the old Japanese saying, fall down 7 times get up 8.
These are some ideas as to what we can do to increase our children’s sense of self-worth
Create a wall of fame
Every child is good at something. Help them to discover it, encourage it and celebrate it by displaying it proudly for all to see. If your home is missing a wall of fame to celebrate their achievement your child is missing their moment of recognition. If you have a child who is not into team sports or athletic, try scouting/guiding. Everyone wins and everyone gets lots of badges. As children walk by their showcase, they can see at a glance five to ten years of achievement. This gives them a lift, especially during times when their self-confidence is faltering.
Nurture their special interests
Try to expose your child to a wide variety of activities, and encourage them through the ups and downs when they find something they really love to do. Kids who have a passion — whether it’s Martial Arts, Theatre or Minecraft, justifiably feel proud of their expertise and skills and are more likely to be succeed in other things at both school and in life in general. Unusual hobbies may be particularly helpful for children who have a hard time mixing with other children at school. Try and use this hobby to help your child to interact with other children and develop friendships. For example, if your child likes to draw but most of the children in their class are into sports, encourage them to do drawing of the sports that their peers enjoy.
Focus on the Glass being Half Full
Help your child to be more optimistic and to look for positives and to continue to work hard towards their goals. Try to avoid offering glib reassurances to “look on the bright side,” or something like “don’t worry you didn’t really want to do that.” Instead encourage them to think about specific ways to improve a situation and bring them closer to their goals. For example if they are behind their classes in reading at school, offer to spend extra time with them reading their school books together. If they weren’t invited to grade this time, ask what they need to practice to be invited to grade next time and then spend some time working on it together to increase their chances of getting the result they desire next time.
Don’t forget also that the glass can be refilled, time and time again.
Watch something motivational to put things into perspective. Nick Vujicic and his positivity is a great example of what we should all aim for.
Don’t over praise your child
Everyone of us likes to be praised, but reserve it for real accomplishments, not just used as a figure of speech. If you tell your child that everything they do is “great” or “awesome” or “fantastic” then when things do get a little (or even a lot) tougher, they can be discouraged at having to face adversity.
What’s the secret to success? Hard work and lots of times things not going right and then the occasional success. The cycle repeats until the successes outweigh the failures. Then we move onto face the next challenge. Give old fashioned good honest praise when it is deserved and justified that way your child will feel good, they’ll learn to understand that hard work, spirit, effort, failures and achievement are all part of a natural cycle but one that they can conquer and receive just rewards.
Don’t give in to Fear
Sometimes we all get nervous or scared about doing something. It might be learning to drive, asking a potential partner out for a date, moving up a class in Martial Arts or starting a new job. Sometimes fear is a good thing and can help us to stay safe at other times fear can be a real limiter to our levels of success.
Fear shouldn’t be ignored, sometimes its a real valid and sensible response. Are you afraid of swimming in a rip tide at the beach, riding on a motorcycle with no protective wear, swimming in a pool with crocodiles in it, going to war, skydiving et al. There are many things to be justifiably afraid of, they are risky and often dangerous to life and limb. Fear in this case is a matter of self preservation. In some of these examples, although fear is felt, the action must still be taken, for example a solider on the battlefield generally has little choice as to whether to engage with the enemy, they have to to ‘just get on with it.’
Some kinds of fear we have to learn to recognise as not being fear of a physical outcome, but something far worse, a fear of failure or even embarrassment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up quite nicely ” What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
Take the following examples:- The child that doesn’t want to try that new activity at school or has passed a new Martial Arts belt and now has to work with a more advanced group of pupils or where they previously loved an activity and now now longer want to do it. This is what, as parents we play the part of Sherlock Holmes and start investigating a little deeper. Ask them what they do in their activity, ask them what they enjoy and what they don’t enjoy. Compare notes with the coach or teacher and see if you can identify the real underlying issue. Is their enough fun in the activity, are they still still motivated, are others progressing faster than them. Are social pressures intervening, are friends asking them to do other things? Are the games consoles calling? Is the activity getting harder to do because your child has progressed and now they are being asked to further improve their skills.
Sometimes all it takes is a little constructive support from a child’s parents to help them overcome their nerves and worries and to move forward with more confidence and to set themselves up for later life.
Congratulations to our new Black Belts who after many years of practice achieved their goal.
Traditionally December is our biggest grading of the year and the one that prompts the most nerves as it is also the time for our annual Black Belt gradings.
During the course of December we ran three Judo gradings (one at the club and two in schools that we run after school clubs at,) four Little Dragon gradings, three Young Legend Gradings, 2 Urban Warrior and 1 Adult grading plus a Brown and Black belt grading.
The gradings themselves are run slightly differently dependant upon the age groups of the taking part, but each one is designed to be challenging for it’s participants.
Ted was very happy to get his Green belt. He’s catching his older brother up.
Our Week of Gradings started on the Monday with The Little Dragons are our 4 – 6 years old and in their gradings which are carried out in class, they are tested on their ability to listen, sit and stand still, meditate and focus along with physical skills such as breakfalling, kicking and punching with control and performing a hold down and a throw onto the crash mats.
Their gradings are time based, which means that they have to attend so many classes in order to pass their next belt.
Congratulations Enzo, on 10th Mon, Green Belt and 1 Stripe
Later on the same day we carried out a two hour Judo grading for both Children and Adults which members being paired off with someone of the same grade to allow them to demonstrate together the skills and techniques necessary to pass their respective grades.
The grading was divided between fundamentals throws and groundwork and for the more experienced multiple attacks and defences were worked on. Their were some great results, Zeus and Theos both gained their Blue Belts with two stripes.
Our Young Legends are aged between 6 – 9 years old. Their gradings are all conducted at a formal grading with pass / fail criteria. The format for them at the less experienced level is to train in a 45 minutes class to remind them of the skills that they have to demonstrate. They are then asked to come up in small groups and demonstrate their skills to the examiners.
Our first group grading were attempting either their first or second belt and some were understandably nervous. We saw some excellent work from them with special mentions going to Sean for excellent focus and good forms and Sara for great partnerwork. In this grading session Georgina who was testing for her 2nd Dan during the weekend was tested on her coaching and assessment skills.
Our second session of the the weekend for again for Young Legends going for the Red and Gold belts. The format was the same although given the greater experience of this group, the requirements were more stringent to achieve the results that they desired. Emily performed superbly in her grading and over achieved, receiving a double grade.
Our final session on the Saturday was for Young Legends grading upto Blue and Black Belt. Given the seniority and experience of many of these children, the format for their grading was designed to stretch them to their limits. After a brief warm up, they moved onto a two hour grading, where they were active for all of the time performing their fundamental skills, partnerwork, fighting at different ranges with multiple opponents and forms. All the while the three examiners were looking at the technical skills of the participants and their prowess. Sophie performed well enough to deserve a double grade in this session.
On the Sunday morning, the less experienced Urban Warriors (10 – 14 years) got their chance to shine. At this level the children and teenagers are much more physically able and cover a much wider syllabus. They are tested not only on technical skill, but also on their understanding and interpretation of what they learn and how they put it into practice. Congratulations to Lex-Jay after a gruelling grading and rather a lot of fights he gained a double grade
This was followed by both Urban Warriors and Adults being text for ranking upto 4th Kyu, Purple and White belt. Those who hadn’t graded before were nervous, those that had graded were more nervous.
The intensity is somewhat higher in these sessions and occasionally an accident happens. No lasting injuries here, but suffice to say that Helen can defend herself quite ably.
We worked through a lot of partnerwork with this group to pressure test their skills in live use and their fortitude under pressure particularly those going for 4th Kyu, the highest grade before Brown Belt including for this group multiple partnerwork. Congratulations to Ryoko who put her skills to go use and gained a double grade to Red belt.
The final session was the finale and highlight of the weekend, the Brown and Black Belt grading with 23 members attempting to pass their next belt.
The excitement and fear had built up over the weekend, those people invited to test for their Black belts had already passed the theory part of the exam and now needed to pass the physical test. During this exam its fair to say that there is a mixture of laughter, tears and sighs of relief all interspersed with a ‘can do belief’ and determination to succeed.
This session tested everyone for three hours, starting with an fundamentals to test correct base skills and then more advanced fundamentals. Followed by partnerwork including groundwork, throws, padswork and fighting and forms. The forms are tested in groups, so some people get a quick breather, not the Black Belts, they got to spend time striking the kick bags with a variety of techniques before they got their turn to demonstrate their mandatory form, The Tai Ki Form, designed to show shortcomings in their body condition. Followed by additional forms or Kata of the examiners choice. Just when the Black Belt candidates thought it was all over, they had to do more work, would they fold under the pressure or rise to the occasion, the latter of course.
Congratulations to everyone who passed their grading during December, you all received the belt that you deserved. Many thanks to Zane, Isabel, Samantha and Zara for helping with the grading.
Tired but very happy, the final grading of 2017. Congratulations to all.
Two days before Christmas I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at a friend’s house. Laid out on the table was a jigsaw. The edges were complete but nothing else, hundreds of pieces scattered around waiting to be found and placed in an orderly fashion. As we sat I started looking for pieces to add to the puzzle and quickly became engrossed, all the while chatting, drinking and making merry. It is years since I sat with a jigsaw, but it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
It got me thinking. Life sometimes feels like a large jigsaw made up from lots of little images, each one representing a different aspect of my life. An image of each of my children and my husband, all looking healthy and happy. An image of my home, warm, clean, tidy, happy and homely. An image of work, busy, successful, productive. An image of my family and friends, keeping in touch, spending time together. An image of myself, living up to the values I hold dear, looking after all those important aspects of my life whilst still managing to look after myself, being the best I can be.
I have an image in my head of the stunning picture it would make when all the puzzle pieces are put together, an intricate web showing life which is serene and organised, everything running smoothly together, happy faces and beautiful places.
However, my jigsaw is far from complete. I stand in the middle of lots of pieces of the puzzle, they are chaotic. A jumbled up intermingled mess which often leaves me feeling like I don’t know where to start.
Sometimes I feel like I am making progress and parts are coming together, the kids are doing well, work is productive, success at a competition. But when I focus too much on one area of the jigsaw, other parts are being neglected. How can I possibly pull this together? It doesn’t take much to make it fall apart again either, the car breaking down, a phone call with bad news, a bill when you have no money and the parts pull apart and I am left standing in the middle of the mess, feeling defeated.
However, here’s what I learnt about completing a jigsaw. Puzzles are fun and they are made for the doing, not solely for completion but for playing with. When a jigsaw is complete all you can do is sit back and look at it, the interaction stops. Sure, you admire the picture, you appreciate the effort you put into the finished product, but then you think ‘what now?’ In time the picture fades and gathers dust, the perfect image becomes uninteresting so the pieces come apart and get put away whilst you fondly remember the fun you had putting it all together. Yes, sometimes it’s frustrating when you can’t seem to finish or find the right piece. Sometimes it’s tiring, monotonous even and feels like you’re getting nowhere. But then there’s the buzz of excitement when you make progress, a sense of achievement in working toward the completed masterpiece and it’s even better when you rope in friends to help you along the way. Sometimes you have to focus more on one area and that’s ok, you’ll be back to the other parts soon enough.
So here’s what I’ll be doing in 2016. I will be viewing life a little differently, not pushing for perfection and completion but learning to enjoy the confusing, messy conundrum that it can sometimes be. Enjoying the moments where it’s all coming together and with the help of those around me working through the times where things fall apart or seem unmanageable. Life is for the doing, not the completion. It’ll come to an end soon enough, there’s no rush to finish. A perfect life soon becomes dull, losing its lustre and gathering dust. Nothing but an image of perfect happiness.
True happiness is found when you revel in the mess, learn to enjoy the chaos and give yourself a pat on the back for those short lived moments where it all comes together.