Purple. Not the most manly colour I have to admit. Nevertheless, it feels good now find it snugly wrapped around my waist.

Training buddy Gerhard Roos' son going through his paces on the big day

In all the excitement that made up the last couple of months of my life, it completely slipped my mind to mention that back on the 4th December 2010, I successfully graded for my purple belt making it officially the highest colour belt I have ever achieved, and more importantly, one big step towards that ultimate goal of my first ever black belt.

Purple belt carries with it a fair bit of work, as it can be seen as being one of the toughest lower belt gradings because you are required to grade over the entire karate syllabus going all the way back to white belt, not to mention the introduction of some new, particularly mentally challenging forms like F6B Ushiru geri and Kamae Kata 3!

As for the actual grading itself, I must say that for once I was actually fairly pleased with the way in which I graded. Held at the Mondeor Eco-School in Somerset West (Next to Monkey Land on the N2), the grading was split up according to colours across the day, and I found myself heading out that way late morning in order to warm up and get myself ready. Outside of Gerhard and his wife there for their purple belt gradings, there weren’t really any other senior karateka grading in my slot, meaning I was pretty much the biggest and ugliest blue belt grading on the day – never mind that I was actually the first one called up on the day!

Currently there are a fair number of black belt senior students in the Funakoshi Karate International South Africa family, in other words a bigger pool of judges to sit in front of you as you do your solo grading performance, but by this stage of the game this “pressure” style of grading doesn’t have quite as much grip on me as it did right in the beginning, meaning that I was able to grade fairly comfortably and at my own pace – all while remembering to breathe for a change! ;)

Unlike last time when I encountered four way kicking for the first time during a grading routine, I didn’t completely fall all over the place, and although I was not kicking particularly high, I managed to successfully work my way through it. Similarly, the grading form and kata went by pretty smoothly, with me being able to maintain my concentration all the way through for probably the first time ever! As for the kihon (moving basics), I managed to pace myself through all three sets, meaning that for a change I didn’t completely keel over and die after running them. Finally, the controlled kumite was a little silly, thanks to there not being another similar age/size blue belt present, meaning I danced around with a small child if I remember correctly.

So overall I was pretty happy with the grading for once, and am currently throwing myself nice and hard at learning all the new purple belt stuff in preparation for June when hopefully I’ll get a shot at taking yet another step in the right direction.

In other words, nifty! :)

(P.S. You can view photos from the grading here)