The Brandon Dojo has been established since 2005, and due to the ageing of the new mats, I decided it was time to replace them with more modern mats. This couldn’t come at a better time with the steady number of new students to both classes this year! Nine years down the line, this was going to be the students first grading on the new mats.
Like at all the other dojos, myself and my assistant instructor arrived dressed in federation dress to set the dojo up ready for the grading. It is always good to wear federation dress so that the students realise that they are grading and to mark the occasion by providing a sense of ceremony at this very important time.
The infants started to arrive and were very quiet, as they knew it was their grading night. The grading started with the traditional line-up and Dojo Kun. This was followed by rapid break falls and a fitness test as a warm-up. It was then down to work on their grading techniques & revision on old techniques.
They all showed great determination & aggression throughout the grading. It was one of their best gradings to date. At the end of the grading, once they were all worn out, it was time to let them know if they had passed or failed. It was great to see their relieved faces when they were told that they had all passed! There was a big cheer by all the infants & their parents!
Next it was time to put the juniors through their paces and see how much pressure I could put them under. The standard from all the juniors was very good – even when asked to do old techniques, it wasn’t a problem for them. Their fitness level has grown a lot over the last year, which helps them when they are put under pressure. Two students who really stood out in the class were Alex Clifton & Alex Jennings. They are great students who are very talented and work together so well. It is a pleasure to watch them grade.
The following week was presentation evening, with a great turn out by the parents. The parents always stand near the front so they can get a photo of their children being presented with their new belt. It is always a magical moment to see the students faces when their name is called out and how they respectfully bow to me when I hand them their new belt and certificate.
It always finishes with a group photo for each class, and the traditional throwing of their old belts in the air. It is amazing that something that I first started in my dojos has been introduced to many of our other dojos in Hertfordshire, London, Suffolk & Norfolk.
Congratulations to all my students for a brilliant grading!