Saturday 28th February 2015 – Closed Black Belt Grading
Candidates: Sempai Jack Sommerfeld, Sempai Jeffrey Mitchell
Two of Sakura Ryu JuJitsu’s sons took to the mat at the Hombu Dojo to secure their place amongst the Yudansha. After 10-11 years of training towards this day, today their task was to survive the gruelling Sakura Ryu JuJitsu Closed Black Belt Grading.
Both these gentlemen are known ‘heavy hitters’ when it comes to training. Jeff an engineer has the look and physique of a construction worker, and hits like a sledge hammer. Jack, nicknamed ‘Big Jack’, towers above most students, at over 6 foot tall, we all look up to Jack, a local law enforcement officer, who has had to use his JuJitsu knowledge in the course of his duties. With a wry smile he says ‘Yeah, this JuJitsu works’.
Sakura Ryu JuJitsu Gradings have a distinct preliminary warm-up, tumbles and rolls, which is more like ‘how high can you fly’, with some impressive aerial displays, followed by spectacular break falling. Once this gymnastic fun has warmed our bodies, then the tone changes as seriousness of the day kicks into gear. Up first, the ‘heavy hitters’ line up to test the candidates blocking and throwing skills. It’s on!
Both Jack and Jeff had no trouble taking care of the onslaught, Uki’s described it as ‘being thrown around like a rag doll’. The clubs Yudansha watched intently and even joined in to test Jack and Jeff, as they were put through a full gamut of technical defences. The full spectrum of Sakura Ryu JuJitsu defences is an exhausting procedure, lasting from noon until well into the evening. Several times during the grading the candidates seem to lack the physical strength to continue, only to bounce back with explosive bone crushing throws, or crippling submissions that have the Uki tap-out with vigour and anxiousness, to avoid injury.
Both Sempai Jack and Sempai Jeff impressed the Yudansha and students of Sakura Ryu who bodied for them throughout the day. The Yudansha unanimously supported Jack and Jeff in going forward to the Public Black Belt Grading, which will take place in a few weeks’ time.
Comments from the students were also positive, and praised them both for the way they conducted themselves. Attitude and composure under pressure are two important components in the Martial Art, these two gentlemen are a testament to that.
The Black Belts acknowledged the excellent way Kyoshi had prepared both candidates for the grading, and the high standard of Kata performed, Kyoshi’s response, as always, ‘It’s not over yet, give me a few more weeks to prepare them and they will be jumping out of their skin’.
Always an exciting spectacle is our dynamic displays of breakfalling, for your enjoyment.