Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summary of Black Belt Testing

On August 15, 2008, I conducted a large black belt grading for several of my long-time students. Rick Robson and Kurtis Cote were promoted to 1st Degree Black Belt (Junior Instructor), and Brent Fowler, John McDonald, Evan Wiley, Jesse Toth, Craig Cote, and Janel Cote were promoted to 2nd Degree Black Belt (Assistant Instructor). Rick Robson and Kurtis Cote became my 19th and 20th black belts I have promoted since opening my Kenpo Karate school in 1995. The test was 2 ½ hours in duration and consisted of forms, sets, self-defense techniques, and continuous sparring. Myself, and two of my other 2nd Degree black belts, Matt Trejo and Scott Southwell, sat on the testing panel.

Each of the candidates made very unique contributions to the testing. Brent Fowler and Evan Wiley’s self-defense techniques and sparring matches still have people talking. Rick Robson and Janel Cote’s improvement and tenacity in only one year’s time was evident. Rick Robson is truly a force to reckon with in sparring. Janel and her brother Craig performed a virtually flawless Coordination Set 2, not to mention Janel’s amazing Long Form 2. Craig Cote also demonstrated how deadly Kenpo Karate kicks can be during fighting. Kurtis Cote’s power almost made the whole building shake, and his sparring ability was noted many times by others. John McDonald helped set the standard for how Kenpo forms and sets should look with his impressive basics, fluidity, balance, speed, and power. John’s techniques were also close to flawless. Jesse Toth’s determination and focus during the test was just unbelievable. Particularly noteworthy were Jesse’s strong sets, forms, and sparring fights.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Memory Lane

While I don’t recall the dates of most of my black belt tests throughout the years, I do remember the date of my 1st degree black belt test in Kenpo Karate. It was on this day, August 11th, of 1990 (18 years ago). The test consisted of forms, techniques, sparring, and weaponry. I tested with three other candidates, one of which owns his own school in London, Ontario as well.

The test was between 2-3 hours long, and I am fortunate to have the test on videotape. I was 15 at the time, almost 16. I was pretty happy with my performance that day, as I had trained very hard for it.

I remember going home that night feeling like a "million bucks". I went for a walk that night by myself throughout the subdivision where I grew up in London Canada feeling like my journey was just beginning, as I knew that Kenpo would be with me for life.

Having spent what will be 24 years in Kenpo Karate come this January 2009, the journey just gets better. I have been blessed with such dedicated and loyal students, many of whom have been with me for years. I have also had the privilege of being my daughter’s instructor (Morgan) for more than 2 ½ years. Most recently, Madison (my youngest daughter) has joined in on the action. While I will never force my daughters into remaining in Kenpo, I do hope that they may develop the passion that I have for Kenpo Karate, so that one day they too will be able to look back on the day when they obtained their black belt.