This morning the WJJF shared with us an announcement regarding the ‘Clark Centre’, the building named after Sōke Robert Clark and which was the headquarters for the WJJF.
To partially quote their statement:
When we re-entered the building, after twelve months off, we were faced with a horror story! The roof was leaking into the Dojo and onto the Tatami and also into the changing rooms. The resulting damp throughout the building had turned to mould on all the furniture and equipment. The paint was peeling from the walls due to the gutters falling off and water ingress soaking the walls. The smell of damp and mould was not only repulsive, but it would also have had a detrimental effect on the health of anyone entering.
As Directors of our Organisation, we have always taken our responsibilities seriously and worked hard for the benefit of the members. We were left with no choice other than to consider the future viable use of the building with regard to the Federation. Taking into account all the aforesaid implications we had to make some extremely hard decisions as we felt that we could not allow our members to return to this unsafe environment. The cost to put everything right, into a building we were purely renting, without any financial help from the landlord, would have been an unfair and unrealistic epic financial burden to place on our members.
Therefore, it is with much sadness and deepest regret that the Board of Directors can confirm that we have closed the Clark Centre.
Immediately after hearing the news, Kyōshi Robert Howes (7th Dan) offered to let me re-try my grading at a later date at one of his classes in Norwich, including ‘volunteering’ the services of one of his club coaches, Sensei Jack Stapleton (4th Dan), to uke for me. In case you forgot, Kyōshi Howes is the sensei who has visited us to adjudicate our club gradings in the past, and whom I trained under last summer.
After our last club gradings back in November, we decided that the best plan was for me to join them at their next club gradings which was set for Saturday 21st March 2020, but then that pesky Coronavirus meant all their classes and the grading got postponed.
You might now be wondering, why would I bring this up now?
This morning I received a surprise package from Kyōshi Robert Howes, containing a letter, a Nidan belt and my certificate.
Yes, I have officially been awarded my 2nd Dan black belt! I was not expecting this and was still waiting for when I could re-try my grading. At this point I don’t really know what to say, other than to thank everyone from Kyōshi Robert Howes, Kancho Robert Hart and of course our Sensei Julia! There are probably other people I need to thank too so if I’ve missed you, thank you!
Roll on October 2023 when I should eligible to attempt my Sandan (3rd dan) grading!
If you’re reading this you probably want to know how I got on at yesterdays grading. In short, I’m not a 2nd Dan quite yet.
The World Ju-Jitsu Federation holds a high and exacting standard for all of it’s gradings, to which no one is exempt. On this occasion I fell just short of the passing grade.
Now to clarify I have not failed, but I haven’t passed either. I have been deferred, which to most of means “resit the exam” so at some point I will have to attempt it again.
I won’t have to travel back up to the HQ in Liverpool but I will still do it in front of senior coaches, and at the moment the current plan sounds like I will travel to Norwich to do it at Haya-Ashi Ju-Jutsu who I trained with over the summer.
In the mean time I have been given excellent feedback on what I did well at and where I didn’t, which was given to me by 2 of the 3 senseis who sat on my adjudicating panel, namely KyōshiRuss Walsh (7th Dan) and Shihan Simon Jones (7th Dan). I was also fortunate in that my Uke for the day was Sensei Paul Daley (6th Dan) who also gave his own advice.
On that note, I would like to thank all of the sensei’s mentioned above again, as well as Kyōshi Robert Howes (7th Dan), Sensei David Howard (5th Dan) and KanchōRobert Hart (7th Dan), who had unpleasant job of breaking the news to me. Everyone I spoke to agreed that I can do it, it just needed more polish than I presented yesterday.
I never walked in expecting to pass. I knew I had to earn it and knew the standards were high, so also I knew there was a chance I could have failed. When it unfortunately happened, it wasn’t a crushing defeat. I don’t even consider it a setback because I haven’t lost anything that I need to regain.
People say you learn more from failure than success, and I plan to use myself as an example for our students. Sure you can train hard and still fail. But you take some time to assess what went wrong, work on those issues and you try again.
I’ll close out this post with a quote that’s served me well in the past and served me well yesterday:
If you’re not prepared to fail, you’re not prepared at all.
I will earn my 2nd Dan, it just hasn’t been quite yet.
It’s been a while since we did a news update, so here are a few items of news.
Grading Fee Changes
Part of the grading requirements for each belt is to have a specific sew on badge applied to your uniform, which previously we had not fully enforced. We are now going to start re-enforcing these standards by adding the price of a patch onto the grading fee, so that you automatically buy a patch at each grading. Previously we had been selling the patches separately.
As these patches need to be applied to the uniform before the grading itself, we are going to add the cost of the first patch to the price of the uniform itself so that you have the first patch ready for your first grading. When paying the grading fee you would also be paying for the next patch ready for the that grading.
For example, if you were doing your green belt grading then you will get the pair of ‘leg flashes’ which are the required patches for the blue + white belt. Subsequently at your blue + white belt grading you would get a leg patch, ready for the Blue belt grading.
Alternatively, a new student buying a uniform would receive the chest patch (the required for the white belt), then once they were ready to grade they would pay for the grading and the ‘WJJF back patch’, which is the required patch for yellow belt.
For reference, here is the list of patches required by the WJJF, and where each patch should be sewn onto the uniform:
WJJF Rules and Regulations
We have published a copy of the WJJF’s rules and regulations here on our website for all to see. This used to be included on the back of WJJF membership forms which students and/or parents would be able to take home and read, but the newer forms no longer have them listed, though the WJJF has a copy listed on their website.
Training with Haya Ashi, Norwich
I (Adam) have been using our summer break to travel up to Norwich to attend the classes run by Kyōshi Robert Howes, who you may recall came to oversee our last two gradings.
This was primarily so I could practice for my 2nd Dan black belt (Nidan), but also to see how different coaches teach their classes and to borrow new ideas. I have brought back extensive notes on move variations, different warm up routines and a couple new toys which you’ll have to see in class for yourself!
I have also been working with some of the senior staff in the WJJF to compile a glossary of terms used within Ju-Jitsu and the WJJF. This started out as a follow up to the belt order guide I made last year, but ended up being something a lot more comprehensive!