I’m sitting here this morning feeling quite tired but extremely pleased with the weekend just passed spent in fine company and doing what we all love to do.
This year’s QKR December seminar and grading was again held on the Gold Coast, this time a little further away from the beach at the old Cararra basketball stadium (in between the Metricon ALF stadium and the new Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre). I want to commend the efforts and achievements of all BBRD members who participated in the humid and hot conditions, and maintained their concentration and focus well beyond comfort zones.
The headline result from the weekend was that everyone was successful in the grades they attempted.
• Kateena Martin 5Kyu (double grade)
• Matt G. 1Kyu
• Tracy Campbell 2Kyu
• Sian Carlyon 1Kyu
• Matt G. 1Kyu
• Michael Baczynski 1Dan
More significantly, feedback from the senior sensei, particularly in Iaido was excellent. Specifically, that after two long, hard days of practice that grading preformance could not be faulted for the level folk were attempting, and indeed far exceeded both requirement and expectation.
I also wanted to congratulate all others who successfully graded yesterday, especially friends of the Club, Rob Doncaster (2Dan Iaido), and Nash Wu (3Dan Kendo) . We will all look forward to continuing our training journey with you! I also wanted to thank all of the senior sensei who selflessly provided their time over the weekend to organise and teach. T. Tsukadiara sensei, Kolb sensei, H. Tsukadaira sensei, Okamoto sensei, Tamura sensei, Johnson sensei, and Kee sensei— domo arigatogozaimashta! It was also wonderful to spend some social time with Tamura, Johnson, and Kee sensei on the Saturday night.
I also wanted to note how priviliaged I feel being able to spend the weekend with everyone. It was Sean T’s very first Kendo seminar, Minty’s first time away with the Club for a weekend trip, and Maaike came down to provide team support and convivial company. It was also Matt G’s last BBRD trip as a Toowoomba local, and while we are saddened by not having him “on tap”, we will certainly look forward to opportunities to continue to catch up at seminars after he has relocated north. Essentially, there was nothing more that could be wanted save for the luxury of a few more days doing the same thing — excellent company, great food, beach time, spa pool time, and dinner with senior sensei. We even managed to crack out the Majhong set on Saturday night for a few solid laughs.
Aside from grading success, I wanted to share how proud I was of everyone’s efforts over the weekend. Matt G once again took on the punishing insanity of grading in both Iaido and Kendo, splitting his time across both on the weekend. I think we have sealed a promise to use rougher than usual handling to prevent him from contemplating doing so in the future, and we will look forward to see him decouple his shinsa attempts next year. Tracy battled her way through badly swollen ankles to produce some of the best kata performances I have seen her do at the time most important to do so. Likewise, Sian, still recovering from recent surgery, greatly impressed the sensei for how much she improved over the weekend, and again the exceptional quality of her grading performance. Minty was sprung with the surprise of being motodachi during the kata section of the shinsa, and ably looked after everyone on the Kendo side of the hall.
A special fighting spirit mention should go to Kateena, who managed to push through the physically exhausting weekend, and successfully graded despite the unusual circumstance of being the only person attempting their first ever grade. The 6Kyu grading can be the most challenging mentally because it is often the very first time someone has been to a weekend long seminar, and certainly the first they have seen a “live” grading process. As this grade is the very first to be tested on the weekend, you do not even get to see others go through the process, and that uncertainty can be particularly psychologically taxing. Usually, there is at least a cohort of others in that circumstance that you share this leap into the unknown with. However, Kateena managed to do this not only solo, but well enough to convince the grading panel of five to double grade her after a little more than six months training any type of martial arts. Well done Kateena, you did yourself and the Club proud!
So I will certainly be looking forward to the next trip away. Till then, we shall continue to keep practicing and putting in the miles to forge, fashion, sharpen and polish our performance.