Black belts are going to be the latest fashion pretty soon at Shima Karate.
Over the next few weeks, said Kurt Nordli, Shima Karate sensei, an “unheard-of” number of students in Nanaimo will be testing for their black belts. Shima will have 20 students grading, more than double a typical year.
“When I told [the International Karatedo Gojukai Association] how many we have grading, they just about fell over,” Nordli said.
Four of the students are masters-aged athletes, but the other 16 are all between 13 and 16 years old and many of them have been training at the Shima dojo since they were five or six.
“And most of these kids are on the principal’s list, they’re straight-A students, they have goals, they know what they want to do when they go to university,” the sensei said. “The whole path they’ve taken has helped them get ready for that.”
Grading for a black belt is a two-part process. An organization test, as it’s called, will be held on Saturday (July 4) at the Oliver Woods Community Centre, then a dojo test will follow.
“The organization test is all about perfection of technique…” Nordli said. “The dojo test is about testing your heart – driving them into the ground, so to speak, pushing them in sparring and exercise and training until they want to give up, but they don’t.”
He said he expects the students to do extremely well in the grading tests.
“They’ve worked so hard for this,” Nordli said. “Not many people grade at 14, 15 years of age and to do that they have to be exceptional and they understand that. So they’ve really worked hard to be exceptional.”
It’s a proud moment for the sensei to see his students reach this stage. Getting to this level builds confidence, but actually receiving that black belt holds extra meaning.
“Once they do it, they know, ‘if I can do this, I can do anything,’” he said.