Successfull International Grading Journey

For 3 – 5 months there has been plenty preparation in our dojo for end of the year gradings.  Most of us still have to face our grading “demons” but for two of our mentors, this moment came all to soon.  On Thursday, 24 September 2015 Sensei Eugene Oosthuizen successfully graded to GODAN (5th Dan) and Sandra Erasmus successfully graded to SANDAN(3rd Dan) in front of the Japanese Panel.

As I am personally involved with both these individuals, I want to give you a glimse of their grading journey through my eyes!

Sandra is not just an inspiration, she is my friend and training partner.  She trains hard!  At the tender age of 20 she started preparing for her 3rd Dan with effort and determination.  Sandra is always friendly but very strict when it comes to her training.  During the week of the training Sandra became very quiet and reserved.  Her mom, Claudette, also informed me that she is not asking her to many questions as she does not want to rock the boat.  To get her mindset on the right track, Sandra spent the days following up to grading, with her beloved horses.  I personally think this is where she draws most of her positive energy.  On grading day I met Claudette at the venue.  We chatted, ate rusks, read our books…..well if you call reading the same page 5 times, reading.  As the panel members came out for their breaks we would get some news of the grading in general, but never was the news enough for our nerves to calm down.  Its 2 in the afternoon, we have been there since 8 – and still no news.

Sensei Eugene was one nervous wreck.  Not only was he preparing for grading, he was also putting together a demo for the African Cup which had to be showcased 2 days after grading.  In the afternoons we would film his Katas and go through his theory.  For those of you who know Eugene well, he is anal when it comes to technique and even harder on himself.  Kicks must be perfect, hand and blocks must be perfectly centred, stances not to wide but wide enough to show good posture.  Over and over we did the katas, video after video, numerous photos to pin point the “problem” areas, stress, anger, more stress until we had a breakthrough the Wednesday before the grading.  Eugene admitted that he knows that he is allowed to fail, but that he is scared to fail.  He does not want to let himself down, me down, his student and their parents down, but he knows that it will not be the end of the world if he fails and that he will have another opportunity to try.

At 2 Claudette and I decided to go pack all our stuff in the car and go wait outside the hall.  The Shodan graders were moving in and out and we got a glimpse of Sensei Eugene sitting next to the table where the panel was seated.  At that stage, the 6th and 7th Dan graders were using him as their “punching bag” for their grading.  Sandra was nowhere to be seen, but we knew he results were not made public yet.  At long last they started the line up and after, what felt like forever (I almost chewed right through my acrylic gel nails) Eugene came out with the biggest, most beautiful proud smile and gave us the good news.  Tears, just tears of happiness and relieve.  Thank heavens for his achievement.  Sandra, no results yet.  They are not revealing the Sandan results as they need these karatekas to fight for those doing their judges course.  Oi, Sandra is already bruised, tired and has a massive headache.  But, eager as ever, she is first in line to fight and at the end she even fights a boy and she wins!!!  Duh, it’s our Sandra we are talking about.

By now we are reaching 6 in the evening and they call the final line up. Sandra is successful and now a very tired and bruised Sandan(however, I am sure has recovered by now)

All and all a very successful day for our two Mentors.  They didn’t just pass their gradings, they grew in character and showed me what can be achieved.  Sensei Eugene also passed his Examiner, Judging and Instructor’s exams.

Here’s to my friend and my partner in life – OSS!

Written by Sandy Verreyne