Four new black belts for Ilkley Karate Club

Ilkley Karate Club now celebrating it's 26th year has welcomed four new members to its ever-increasing group of black belts. Alex Miles (10), George Kent (10), Annabelle Connor (13) and sister Katie Connor (15) successfully completed their grading to the rank of 1st degree black belt (1st Dan) and now join the elite ranks within the Shito-Ryu Shukokai Karate Union (SSKU).

The Ilkley youngsters achieved their long-term ambition after successfully completing six hours of mental and physical endurance to reach their goal. The black belt gradings are held nationally in Manchester and students from all the clubs in the association are graded by four of the highly distinguished Karate Chief Instructors in England. Those taking the grading for their black belt had to remember and perform nine out of a possible 27 memorised combination of moves some of which originated from the founder of the Shukokai style of karate. In addition to the combinations, the youngsters also had to perform three katas (set moves); demonstrate impact work on pads; perform a variety of self-defense technquies against an opponent; and finish off with a couple of bouts of sparring aganist fellow students.

The SSKU dan grades are not easy to achieve, it gives an extra sense of achievement if you make the grade, this is one of the reasons the SSKU black belts are highly regarded in the karate world and are also recognised in the birth place of karate as each certificate is authenticated with Grand Master Soke Yamada's seal who is recognised as the formative head of Shukokai.

Club instructor Mark Outterside commented that you really need to prove yourself both technically and physically these days and if you do pass the grade of black belt especially in our style of karate you feel you have earned it. It takes on average 4 years from beginner to black belt level through the grading system.

The Ilkley karate students are now looking forward to the forthcoming Cumbrian Open Karate Championships in addition to the trips to Germany and Greece later in the year to train with fellow SSKU groups as the association has a worldwide following.