Senpai Seth Walter (1st Dan)
I started training just after my 7th. birthday in January 1994. The grading system back then was 1st. stripe and so on up to 5th. stripe. You were then eligible to take your 1st. blue belt 8th. KYU. This I obtained in January 1997, taking each grading at 6 monthly intervals.
This followed on until I obtained my 5th. KYU (2nd. Yellow) in June 1998. I then felt ready to start England squad training in 1998. Competition was very strong and I was able to learn a lot from the England coach Sensei Andrew Turner 4th. DAN. I also learned a tremendous amount from fighting different guys from various dojo's around the country and this enabled me to build on my experience.
It wasn't until November 2000 before I won my first cap for England in the Severn Challenge against Wales and Switzerland. I was a very green fighter then, going out in the first round against a very strong brown belt from Wales. The following year, 2001 was a different story though, when I won the individual trophy, gaining 1st. place against some formidable opposition from Wales and Switzerland. 4th. and 3rd. KYU's were taken at yearly intervals, obtaining my 3rd. KYU in June 2000. I gained my 2nd. KYU (1st. Brown) in October 2001. By this time I was becoming more established in the England squad having fought for my country at both clicker and nihon shobu, combining this with both team and individual fighting at national level. I have also attended 3 x summer training camp sessions, ie. (1 x junior and 2 x senior) where the training and gradings are very intense. I successfully graded to 1st. KYU (2nd. Brown) in August 2003 and then 2 years later in August 2005 successfully gained my Black Belt (1st. DAN), awarded by Hanshi Steve Arneil (9th. DAN), after a gruelling 6.5 hour grading.
I have been fortunate to travel abroad to Switzerland 3 times to represent England in the Pilatus Cup. The first one was in May 2002 where I was unbeaten on the day having had 6 fights, ie. 5 x wins and 1 x draw. This helped the England team come 1st and 3rd. in the various categories. March 2004, again in Switzerland saw my first Knockdown, (full contact) contest, where after 2 very tough fights I secured 3rd. place.
I repeated this again in March 2005 with a very creditable 3rd. where Sarnen was the venue. I have now won 8 caps for England, fighting in all 3 disciplines, nihon shobu, clicker and knockdown.I have also attended many Kata tournaments without any trophies, (so you could say that this is not my forte), but I will keep on trying and who knows, maybe one day!! I have also attended national instructor's courses and have gained my first aid certificate for sport, which is a pre-requisite for taking your Shodan.
It has taken me over 10 years to get to Shodan, black belt, but I do believe that this has been to my advantage gaining much experience and understanding along the way, (â€œremember that when you fight, it is the man and not the belt that is your opponentâ€). I have seen some very outstanding fighters of green and brown belt status. I know it has been said before, but in this sport and particularly Kyokushinkai "you get out what you put in."