June has been an intense month for the students of Ishin Ryu Ju Jitsu at Lionel, as they prepare for their first belt grading on Saturday 11th July. The move from Red Belt to White, in many ways, is the most arduous that they will undertake in the course of their martial career; the majority of those who come through our doors will never earn it, and yet without it there is no journey to speak of.
The fact that six students have had the fortitude of character to stick at an intensely physical martial art for nearly ten months is a testament not only to themselves, but is also an amazing reflection on both their parents and teachers who have worked so hard to produce such well adjusted young adults.
However, we are not a school to ever give a belt a way, and the last four weeks has seen us turn the gas up as the candidates prepare for a challenge like none that they have ever met before. At the beginning of each session we have got stuck into our basic conditioning, as we raise our fitness levels, and this has been immediately followed by an extended session of throws.
The student’s mitt work is improving greatly, and they understand the importance of striking through their target. This in turn has led to their first kata – Palm Heel Strikes. Here they use a combination of different open-handed strikes, in conjunction with locks, to neutralise an incoming attack.
All of the students have progressed well with their kubatons – a small neoprene weapon, pioneered by Japanese anti-riot police – and are looking forward to their Yellow Belt where they will be transitioning from strikes to rapid takedowns and immobilizations.
Towards the end of each session, we have got into our groundwork and then onto some back-to-back grappling. Such is the level of anticipation of the White Belt grading, that a number of students are making the long journey to Stornoway for an extra session of training on Tuesday’s, meaning that some candidates are now training FOUR times a week – that really is an outstanding commitment.
I’m sure that everyone will join me in wishing all the students well on 11th July; we don’t say “Good Luck” – that has nothing to do with it.
Until next month,