Wow! What an amazingly inspirational experience. I am filled with a sense of gratitude to my family, my friends, my husband, Seido and of course Jun Shihan Roger, without whom I would not have been a part of this.
I was nervous, but then I always am. I felt overwhelmed at times but I worked through it, and everyone was in the same boat. The grading is a marathon, a test of endurance. It is not about being the strongest or the fittest. It is designed so that you do battle with yourself. A time to reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses. By the time I returned home I had had had 4 hours sleep in 48 hours. Nidaime told us we would need each other to get through tests and he was right. The support and encouragement we all showed to each other was very special.
The personal bonds made the grading strong.
The event was totally made by the lovely people we met. Not just students from Honbu. The seven-strong Australian team were just fantastic, as were Akinwande and Eric from Chicago, to name but a few. Meeting and training with them defined Seido for me. Kyoshis Matt, Aaron and Sensei Kelly were also a huge support for us.
Before our grading commenced on Saturday night, we supported the Nidan and Sandan candidates in their final part. Then our overnight grading began. In the morning we stayed to support the final part of the Shodan grading. There were so many seniors there, the knowledge and experience at Honbu was extraordinary.
It was an real privilege to work with Sensei Suzie both before and during the promotion. In the course of our training and grading we shared so many experiences ranging from side splitting joy to downright despair.
I am left with a lasting image of Kaicho’s big smile, contrary to his formidable reputation. He and Nidaime work so well as a team and their seemless approach and professionalism were fantastic to watch. He made us all feel special.
On reflection, I feel like I have moved from a Home Counties dojo to something so much bigger and this makes me appreciate the Seido organisation in a new and fresh way.
It was the last senior grading in that dojo and the biggest. I feel immensely privileged and proud to have been a part of it. The memories and friends that I have made will last forever.
Sensei Karen Babb