In 2010, I was invited to open a dojo at the family-run private school in Great Finborough, Stowmarket. In September this year, their £2 million, state of the art sports centre, will be completed, where our new dojo will be relocated into the main hall.
The club has become very successful over the years, and we have been privileged to be invited to many of their events during this time.
It is always a highlight of the grading week at Finborough School. They are a very well presented and respectful class. There are so many in the class that have achieved so much since they started training with us in Ishin Ryu Ju Jitsu. Two students who stand out are Grace Long and Heidi Leather, who cried in their first lesson! Their confidence, interacting with other students, fitness and development of their skills has been outstanding. Whatever I asked them to do they never gave in, and kept going right to the end.
As with all the other dojos, myself and my assistant instructor arrived dressed in our best federation dress (blazer, collar and tie) to set the dojo up ready for the gradings. It always feels good to wear federation dress to these events so that the students realise that they are grading and that this is a very important time for them.
The students started to arrive, keen and ready to get started. The grading started with the traditional line-up and Dojo Kun (training oath), which every student was able to repeat without a problem, both in English and in Japanese. The energy was electric as we moved onto punches and kicks followed by rapid breakfalls.
To keep them on their toes, it was groundwork followed by fitness tests, then rapid throws. Once completed we moved on to self-defence techniques. During this part of the grading they had to react quickly when attacked to see if they could react in a real situation. It was great to see them not having to think about it, and dealing with the attack under pressure. The last part of the grading is always intense cardio fitness, which they dealt with amazingly well.
By the end of the grading they all laid on the floor exhausted, which is a great result! They all did a brilliant grading and thoroughly deserved to be awarded their next belt.
The best part of grading the students is when we have the presentations the following week. It is always a great to see so many parents come along to watch their child being presented with their new belt. It is a magical moment to see the students faces when their name is called out, and they respectfully bow to me when I hand them their new belt and certificate.
We always finish with a group photograph and the traditional throwing of their old belts in the air. It is amazing that something that I first started in my dojos all those years ago has been introduced to many of our other dojos in Hertfordshire, London, Suffolk and Norfolk.
Congratulations to all my students for a brilliant grading – you are all a credit to the dojo and to Ishin Ryu Ju Jitsu.