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  • Writer's pictureMatt Powell

The Road to Shodan

I started my karate at six years old at East Meon.

I remember getting my first new belt (white belt orange stripe) and it was when we were training on the grass outside.

One of the big things that properly kickstarted my progression was the moving to Saturdays at TPS.

I was going through the grades very well and was very much enjoying it and was even invited to my first course with Sensei Dave Hazard.

As much as I was doing well with my karate what I wasn’t thinking about the karate itself, but I was focusing on getting new belts again and again. Even though I was ten I would have liked to take more time thinking about what the belts meant but I was all for getting the new colour’s.

I had heard about competitions, but it took me a while to choose to compete and it was the most exhilarating feeling I had. I lost a lot, but I managed to get third place in my three step kumite. After that I went to every AKA competition and was always going for the win.

After I had got to brown belt, I had a bit of a wobble as I had had an injury with my knees for a while from putting too much strain on my body and was feeling like I wasn’t liking my karate. I took a break from it and it only lasted two weeks I think as I just wanted to get back to the people. It was one of the best feelings going back and I loved it.

The first competition back I was not confident with my kata so I asked if I could miss that event out but thankfully sensei Keith Williams put me into it without telling me as I won my first ever event. It was also when I found my favourite kata ( Heian Godan ) and that kata has done me a great service in all of the other competitions so whenever I do it I think of how I used this kata. Also, with this kata when I was going to go for 4th kyu I had been practicing tekki shodan too much that I forgot my grading kata in the run up. Luckily, I still passed but it was just one of the pre grading panics I have had and still have when going for a new belt.

But whilst competitions were going by, I had managed to get myself to first kyu and getting ready for my black belt. However, I had several problems in the run up like I had an overheating problem, I had a concussion which lasted a long time, I wasn’t liking karate as much and I unfortunately broke my toe as well. I was still planning on going for it until my mum had a chat with me and we decided not to go for it. I was in tears and angry at myself most. I took another break after that and was just getting back into it when covid came.

It didn’t take me long luckily to get used to the zoom sessions and I was loving how Sensei Matt was keeping them going throughout lockdown. It was when we were at the Avenue during the break between the first and second lockdown that I started going for shodan again. I decided to change kata to Jion as I wasn’t feeling enpi anymore and I began training. I was nonstop training. It was also the time when I was helping with the junior classes and that was a very nice challenge and it showed me what I would have been like when I first started. I have loved teaching and hope that it will continue for as long as it can.

In the run up for shodan I was doing some extra training with Sensei Matt and Harry. For anyone going for shodan I would highly recommend a training partner as someone to push you and to try everything out with them. Since this I have become much better friends with Harry and I hope to help him out with his second dan. All this extra training wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Kath and Matt Clays dojo so a massive thanks to them.

On the day of the grading it was the most exciting day of my life. Sadly, Sensei Matt wasn’t there because he had covid but I managed to call him before and after. The grading didn’t go perfectly but a few bumps in the road didn’t hurt it. Harry did his job amazingly. I achieved my shodan and the first thing I remember was looking out of the door to see my mum and Sensei Jon Watson.

Both Sensei Jon and Sensei Wayne were the biggest help I could have had. They were amazing at getting me ready and I cannot thank them enough.

My road to shodan was a very long one but it was the best feeling of my life and I can’t wait to continue progressing.

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