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Enso SKC Embraces 2022

Well, my dear chums, it has been a long time since I wrote anything on this website. Hard to explain why, but truth be told, for some reason I just lost my writing mojo, but hey guess what, now its back!

So, I feel compelled to have a quick review of last year in general, and my hopes and ambitions for 2022. However, before I do I think it might help if I were to have a quick look back at 2021.

If I am honest, I had what her Majesty the Queen said back in 1992, was her annus horribilis, or awful year. Frankly, I had the same being re-diagnosed with cancer for the third time in January, then moving on from uTrack after 12 years and watching the company grow from nothing to this major player in the cloud-based software market in July, to then losing my lovely mum who died just before Christmas .

One of those is frankly not good, but stack them up and they make for a grim time. However, as always, I still saw the good and the funny in everything that happened and there were great things that did happen. Thing is, no matter how bad things get, you just have to see the joy in life and I never have any trouble with that malarkey, never have and frankly, never will.

So, lets return to the dojo, last year was great. Yes, part of it was a zoom life where we trained together in our homes, and we also trained with Sensei Wayne doing his Tuesday fitness classes and they were awesome, as he himself is (if you know, you know).

In March, as lockdown was finally lifted, two Dan gradings were conducted. Sensei Steve O'Reilly, chief instructor of Haden Shotokan Karate Club and Chris Smith, attempted their 4th Dan and first Dan exams, respectively. They both were challenged by a tough grading syllabus attempted in very hot conditions. Both showed great spirit, effort, and desire and as a consequence both passed with flying colours.

In July, I formally joined the Traditional Shotokan Karate Association headed up by Sensei Pete Manning, 8th Dan, Sensei Bill Gorthy, 7th Dan and Sensei John Euden, 7th Dan. As members of the Association, both Wayne and myself, as well as Patrick and Simone attended the first residential course that was held in sunny Weymouth nestling on the Dorset coastline. The training was varied, challenging and very enjoyable. We were made most welcome and on the Saturday night a social event was organised which was simply excellent. I am delighted to report that the Peaky Blinders quiz team did very well, if the truth be told we could not have been made more welcome and we shall certainly be back next year for the two residential courses to be held in Weymouth and Jersey, I can't recommend them enough.

Se had to change dojos a couple of times due to Covid restrictions and have ended up at Clent village hall, Nuffield health care in Rubery and Haybridge high School, all slightly confusing but the good news is that as from this year we can train in Clent three Thursdays out of four which is a bit more consistent.

So for me, Karate was hard. The chemotherapy treatment took its toll, it was hard and very toxic, and long 9 hours every second Wednesday with all sorts of other stuff going on, including super brittle skin which meant that my fingers and my feet were constantly bleeding, as the cuts just kept getting worse especially on my feet. As ever, super Yvi stepped in and got me some special martial arts shoes, ha what a hero.

Eventually we were allowed back in the dojo, and let me tell you, it was liberating, being back where I belong. And even better, the guys were back as enthusiastic and willing as ever, you truly cannot replicate the feeling of a focused dojo of committed black belts and instructors giving 100% at each session, and all that did was inspire me. So, we agreed that we would use the year to train for gradings and that is what we did for the year, both in the dojo and also in private lessons at my home dojo.

And so it transpired that on Saturday 11th of December, several people from ENSO SKC took their Dan grades in front of Sensei Pete Manning, 8th Dan and Sensei Bill Gorthy, 7th Dan, it was an exhausting day but thank the Lord, at the end of the day Sensei Roger Cox passed his 4th Dan, as did Sensei Steve Garland, and Sensei Wayne Ricketts passed his 3rd Dan. In truth, I was emotional as I celebrated their hard-earned success, a testimony to their dedication and effort. I merely guided them on the journey, but they put in the blood, sweat, and tears, that are required to achieve such senior grades especially in front of 2 very demanding, but fair examiners like Senseis Pete and Phil,

So, there you have it. A great way to end the year, although I cannot finish this review without mentioning our excellent Christmas party. We were together at the Four Stones in Clent, we had the upstairs to ourselves, and it was simply great. We shared stories together and collectively about Shihan Cyril Cummins our Sensei, a great man who influenced all our lives and a man who we loved simple as that.

I start this year with enormous optimism. We have great students who will challenge themselves with taking dan grades, but, as ever I will guide and do my best to coach and inspire them, but as ever it will be those individuals who will be strong and brave, and will over come the demons that an exam offers, but that is the point, if it's not hard and tough, what does it mean?

We had to change dojos a couple of times due to Covid restrictions in 2021 and have ended up at Clent Village Hall, Nuffield Health in Rubery and Haybridge high School. All slightly confusing, but the good news is that as from this year we can train in Clent three Thursdays out of four which is a bit more consistent.

We are also going to introduce direct debit payment methods as well as card payments to try and reduce the pain of having to bring cash, which will also remain an option.

It is also our intention to introduce beginners lessons so encouraging those who wish to teach Karate the opportunity to do so. It is intended to appeal to adults rather than children, so the minimum age is 15, which we shall review after 6 months.

2022 will also see members of the club attempting senior dan gradings throughout the year, as ever a challenge but one we will meet head on. I never pressure people into taking gradings it is always the choice of the individual, however, once committed it is full steam ahead. I will still be offering the free personal lessons at Clent towers for those who want extra tuition with the emphasis on the grading kata itself, as well as brushing up on the required grades kata to ensure people are fully equipped to perform any kata relevant to their dan grade. A lot of attention is also given to the TSKA syllabus which is challenging and long, and so it should be if candidates are going to pass their exams with Sensei’s Manning, Gorthy, and Euden, as we discovered form the grading at Mere in December where all 7 candidates attempting their shodan or first dan failed.

So, I’m up for 2022, frankly it cant get worse than last year, and guess what, it won’t. Seize the day and remember: never give up, never give in!



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