In previous posts I told the story of my 1st Dan grading in 1999 and my 5th Dan grading in 2012 now I’m going to tell the story of my 3rd Dan grading which I took under Reiner Parsons (Kyoshi 6th Dan IMAF).
My previous gradings had all been very exhausting intensive tests of endurance – this grading was not like that. It was much more technical.
I met Reiner in 2003 when I was already a 2nd Dan in Karate and Nihon Jujutsu. He was one of the regional directors of Kokusai Budoin (IMAF) and had graded up to 5th Dan in the Nisseikai style with Tadanori Nobetsu (9th Dan IMAF), a style which combines Goju Ryu with Feeding Crane.
However the Shorin family of Karate was not unknown to Reiner by any means – he had trained under the likes of Wado Ryu master Kazuo Sakai, Nihon Jujutsu master Shizuya Sato (a former uke to the founder of Wado Ryu) and had taken his 6th Dan under Shoto Ryu headmaster Ikuo Higuchi (9th Dan IMAF).
However Reiner was not simply examining me afresh. I had been training under him for some time, and he told me it was time to grade. I asked my Shotokan teacher’s permission (granted) and prepared for the grading.
When Reiner started teaching me, I did not move over to the Goju Ryu (Nisseikai) style from an external point of view – but I enriched my own Karate with its principles.
These principles included relaxation, breathing, use of the waist, moving in two directions and training more slowly and smoothly.
The grading included little in the way of basics (at least contrasted with my previous and subsequent gradings) but the basics and kata I performed were all tested and analysed.
These included Gekisai, the five Heian forms, Tekki, Bassai, and Empi. I was also asked to show two more advanced forms and so I chose the two I thought had most affinity with Goju Ryu – Hangetsu and Nijushiho. These were largely pioneered in Okinawa by Seisho Aragaki, who taught the teacher of the Goju Ryu founder.
For the self defence and sparring portion of the grading I was paired with Reiner’s son Clive, also taking his 3rd Dan that day.
Because of Clive’s back problems I was unable to use the moves I loved best (throws and takedowns) and so had to resort to old school Shotokan hit and move.
I was also tested on various weapons including Sai, Bo and Tonfa and engaged in sparring with the Tanjo.
In typical Reiner fashion he did not even announce the result of the grading at the end. We went back to his house for a cup of tea. He showed me some of his old certificate and photographs and casually handed me a few 3rd Dan certificates (one for club, one for association, one for style) as I was leaving.
In terms of who had graded whom, I had been graded by Reiner, he by Ikuo Higuchi, he by Makoto Gima.
Makoto Gima was awarded his 1st Dan by Gichin Funakoshi and his 10th dan by Kanken Toyama.