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Year End Awards and Grading 2009

What a huge day yesterday!  20 of our adults graded including a big bunch of senior ranks.  Check the photos on Facebook!

Congratulations to Richard Parry for wowing everyone with his 1st kyu grading and for being voted Student of the Year by unanimous vote of the instructors!

Congrats to Thelvin for a fantastic 4th kyu grading and for taking Technical Student of the Year.

Congrats to Josh Struthers for grading to 5th kyu (despite his big brother’s best attempts to remind him who the “big” brother is) and for taking the annual award for Budo Spirit.

Chris also identified Anna as the other stand out yesterday.  Anna graded to 3rd kyu and impressed with her well rounded performance.

Other awards went to Brendon Tohill for Most Improved – Senior Ranks and Katherine Skipper for Most Improved – Junior Ranks… in no small part because she’s kicked me in the face already!

Best Newcomer went to Nicholas Lee.  Best Novice Fighter went to Herbert Harris (giving Shihan food over the fence when he’s working late had nothing to do with it!)

Jamie was given an award recognising his outstanding achievements in Kyokushin this year.

Each of the ‘partners’ of this year’s shodan candidates were recognised by the candidates for the support and time they committed towards the candidates success.

Also recognised was Alan Struthers for his support to the dojo.  We appreciate Alan for his sensible ‘ear’ and for the support he’s given the fighters by travelling and organising away trips.

Bob & Kamla Ranchhod were given an award recognising their commitment to Kyokushin through their children (their tally is now 3 black belts, 1 brown belt).

Honestly, if I started to list all the students and parents who have given their time, feedback and moral support this year I’d be here all day but I would like to mention Tony Keddy, Brendon Tohill, Deanne Daysh and Amber Haley who have all gone the extra mile this year!

Finally, in the past we have picked out an ‘Instructor of the Year’, but this year we found it impossible to recognise one over the others because every single one of them has added outstanding value to the dojo.

Shihan Alex is constantly supportive, has developed and managed our black belt kata sessions (which we’ve talked about doing for years!), his monthly ‘old school’ classes offer our students a much needed balance and recently he’s been taking some really interesting training on Saturday mornings towards improving the dojo’s mawashi geris!  Chris is loving it!  Earlier this year Shihan Alex also organised a memorial session for Sensei Jack Gibbons attended by Jack’s son Wayne Gibbons and NZMA luminaries like Shihan Doug Holloway, McCallum, John Jarvis, Pat Toner, Andy Barber and Mike Mansfield.  Hone Tamara travelled all the way from Ruatahuna to lead a ceremony that raised the hairs on my back.  We couldn’t value more highly the sense of history and spirit infused into the dojo that day.

Sempai Steve is another source of constant support.  In fact I can’t keep up with all his suggestions and good ideas!  We know with Steve in the dojo we can rest assured members, particularly noobs aren’t tracking under the radar because Steve is always available with insights and support.

I worry that Sempai’s Conway and Phil fly under the radar more than the other instructors because they are just so solid and so dependable.  These two are both wonderful instructors and the time they spend in the dojo is almost entirely for the benefit of others ‘first’.  In fact Chris views Alex, Conway & Phil as representatives of  his own holy trinity in the dojo, i.e. tradition, physicality and technique!

Newcomers to the ‘instructor ranks’ are Sempai’s Estelle and Haines both of whom have found their niche in the yudansha ranks in the last 12 months, frequently making themselves available for coaching during and outside class time.  This attention is such a luxury I’m not sure the dojo members fathom how lucky they are to have, between all our instructors, almost limitless attention on tap!

Sempai Jamie gets a mention on the instructor front because, unusually for a high performance athlete (usually they are necessarily self absorbed) Jamie has found the time to maintain morning training and fight training, frequently for the benefit of others at the expense of his own training, plus he’s developing some real skills as a kid’s instructor.

We can’t not also mention our super newcomers, the colts who graded to shodan this year. Chetan, Darsheka, Christian and Dominic. An important part of these guy’s development was learning to instruct and coach and it’s fair to say all four have taken to it like a duck to water.  This reflects their technical ability as well as impressive insight and maturity that they all seem to share.  All four of them have our utmost respect and gratitude for the value they add to the junior dojo in particular.

Finally, we’re stoked to see Sempai Craig back in the dojo after several months off earning credits on the home front!!!

We value the sweat and effort of all our members because the dojo is a product of your combined effort but I hope you might also take the time this Christmas period to say thanks to the instructors who devote time away from their families (and, if they’re like us, a lot of thought while they’re with their families) to your development.  We’re all very very fortunate they choose to do it!  Thanks guys!