First up, a massive congratulations to Rowan Prendiville who on Saturday night became the new UXC amateur lightweight champion. I’m not surprised Rowan won, I’m not even sure if it’s really fair to let Rowan fight humans as the man is at least superhuman and potentially actually a cyborg or cylon or something.
Despite being superhuman or a robot, he trains harder than anyone and his dedication is unquestionable. He can also take a hell of a punishment. You can see from the photos that this title was not an easy win. It went the distance and was announced by the promoters as the amateur fight of the night.
The next day, Danny, Rowan and the whole squad were back in the Dojo for the future generation of champions. It was grading day for the ZKJ minion squad, as Carl so aptly named them. I took a few photos on the day which you can find on The Dojo Facebook page. There was a fantastic turnout, so good in fact that they had to be split into two groups.
The youngsters were in the matted area
and the older ones were in the cage.
At the end they were all brought in together and did some kata as a group. It was great and the kids really enjoyed it.
I think the grading is a great thing for the kids, and for me there are three main reasons why. These three reasons are not clearly distinct things that are unconnected, more like three facets of the same thing.
First of all, it’s a sense of achievement and accomplishment for them. Unlike school, going to karate is mostly a voluntary activity. Some parents, like me, will undoubtedly have to kick the little critters asses to get them to go once in a while, but you know what I mean. Most of them are there because they want to be and the grading awards them for undertaking something they enjoy. It’s a lot more tangible than going up a level in an Xbox game. At least I hope it is!
The second thing that I particularly like about the grading is a little more intangible. The idea behind the gradings in martial arts is that it creates a path to be followed. Following this path requires a level of discipline and teaches kids that they can work towards something and that sometimes getting where you want to be requires time, effort and many stages. I’m sure all the kids down there want to be black belts. I know my kid does, but the grading teaches them that there are things in life that take time. Although maybe Xbox games teach them that too.. I don’t know.
The final thing I like is that in some ways, the grading is like a rite of passage. Rites of passage have existed in many cultures globally since the dawn of time. Or at least since long before we learned to write stuff down. In our society today, however, rites of passage are sadly lacking. Rites of passage are part of growth and maturation and I think for the kids, having these gradings that show their growth and development in Karate should help them to understand growth and maturation in themselves.
I have to commend Rowan for coming along on Sunday. After his battle on Saturday night, most would have felt they deserved a few pints and a day of relaxing, but he was there, with his belt, showing the kids what you can achieve if you set your mind to a path and work towards it. The bruised face showed them that it’s never an easy ride. But his happiness and pride in his success showed them that it’s worth it.