Ikken Kyokushin Karate Club, at Sentinel Primary School in Hangberg, held their first grading of the year at the weekend.
Seventeen students were tested for various beginner ranks up to the green belt level.
Led by Senpai Ricardo Williams, a dedicated black belt who began his own training in the 90s, the dojo has been a pillar of the community for many years.
Affiliated with the World Sabaki Federation (WSF), an international organisation led by president Hoosain Narker, in Retreat, the Ikken Kyokushin Karate Club received a visit from none other than Kaicho Narker himself.
As an 8th Dan black belt, Kaicho Narker was pleased with the students’performances in basics, kata (forms), and sparring during the grading.
Assistant instructors Ryan Phillips and Clarence Daniels have their sights set on testing for higher grades at a summer camp scheduled for later this year.
“This was truly special, especially for the kids. At the beginning of the year they were 20 students and we hope to have a grading twice a year. What made it more special was to get a visit from the Mr Narker. Normally we don’t have the main person come out to a small club. It was a great experience,” said Phillips
The dojo’s association with the WSF since last year has brought about a positive shift in their fortunes. Previously, the club experienced stagnation due to a lack of interest from previous affiliations. However, with their alignment to the WSF, the dojo has experienced a revival. Senior instructors have visited, tournaments and gasshukus (training camps) have been attended, and their students now regularly visit other dojos, fostering growth and development.
“Karate is bringing new opportunities for the kids and the people of Hangberg. It is an alternative. We used to have classes growing up but we didn’t take kids out to tournaments and other communities. All these opportunities are becoming available. When kids are able to interact with their role models, it’s good for the community. Karate is about discipline and hard work and we have seen how well it improves the kids in the area,” said Phillips.
Narker said, by providing greater opportunities for children and youth in the area, the Ikken Kyokushin Karate Club is making a positive impact. In fact, their progress has been so significant that there are plans to open another branch in Imizamo Yethu. The club has already received requests from individuals eager to join, and the new branch may become a reality as early as this year.
“I was rather impressed at the fact that the students are motivated. Sadly a lot of clubs are overlooked and when they affiliate with us things start to happen. Next month we are having a tournament. Once a month they train with me. We have a taxi guy that brings them with no charge,” said Narker.