More sabaki, focus on basics, and challenge yourself!
These points summarized the advice and pointers given by the grading panel at the second grading event of 2019.
The last 2 years have seen a decrease in Grading participants, for good reason.
Many participants have chosen to exercise the option to not be graded consecutively a belt after another, to focus on better preparation.
The Club too enforced minimum training times as grading pre-requisites for certain belts and gave better definition on milestones to achieve for each phase of training.
The result was a significant increase in quality-
Participants showcased better form, confidence, and aptitude in their performance at Grading.
Despite the significant achievements, there remain many areas of improvement that all of us will have to work on together.
With sparring as a cornerstone for yellow and green belts, intermediate-level participants have shown better physical fitness and repertoire in their techniques.
In the zeal of combat however, participants often exert too much too early, leaving the later rounds with not much 'gas' to run on.
While having a good breadth of technique is impressive, it means nothing if you end up exhausted and missing the point each time a chance arise.
Participants in this level need to realize the value in 'keeping it simple'- relying on basic effective techniques first, before moving on to more adventurous maneuvers.
With no sparring as a grading element, elementary-level participants are graded on their forms and mastery in applying basic Ashihara Karate techniques in a controlled routine.
Participants here, especially those who have once come with less-than-ideal physical abilities, have put up high quality performance of their forms and basics.
Many showcased massive improvements in flexibility and ability to exert control over the opponent when applying techniques from kata.
What needs to be worked on for this group is 'fight control'/ sabaki.
In a controlled routine where opponents have been instructed to give a random, but define attack (e.g. any straight kicks), they must be able to apply with confidence, the key concepts from kata in their own way.
After learning the defined applications from kata, participants need to exercise their creativity in responding to the opponent in their own way during the sabaki routine.
Like the commentary given to the intermediate-level participants, simplicity is key- start from simple techniques, then build up.
Alongside the above, participants in this level must inculcate in themselves, the values of 'consistency' and 'self-challenge'.
What we fail to use, we lose.
Our failure to keep good standards will eventually result in ourselves falling stagnant, or worse still deteriorate.
And this reminder extends to all our sabaki artists here.
Congratulations if you've been awarded to the next grade!
For those who have yet to see your colors evolving, realize that it is only a matter of time.
Grading is not a showcase of your worth to the grading panel, but it is a showcase to YOURSELF that there's a greater potential inside you.
Keep training, and keep honing that giant within.
Participants pay me to yell at them in a class called Ashihara Karate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯