Black and Brown belt course on the Isle of Wight. Sunday 5th February 2012

Training at the Dojo had been increasing in tempo for the past few months, as Sensei Merv and the other instructors prepared Liam, with joint members of Crookhorn Karate club, Rebbeca and Nathan, for their Dan gradings. Unfortunately due to illness (including Sensei Faye and Pat) the originally planned party of 18 was reduced to 11. Undaunted the party left Portchester on time at 9.00am and by 10.00am were enjoying a hot drink on the Wightlink car ferry.



One of the club members who had only recently attained his 3rd Kyu Brown belt and thus making his first Black and Brown Belt attendance describes the day's training.


Before the course
Prior to attending the Black and Brown Belt course on the Isle of Wight (Feb 2012) my only preconceptions were that it would be a hard day’s training and there would be some higher level tuition, perhaps dealing with some of the finer points on a particular subject or two.
When I got there, the first thing that I noticed was that I was starting to recognise a few of the faces, if not the names, of people from other SEKU clubs from past competitions and other such events, only now I would be training with them instead of competing against them.
I was just getting to grips with this as an experience when I was suddenly aware that I was the lowest grade there, wow, how daunting.  There were so many high grade Black Belts and I would be training right alongside them, learning at the same time as they were refreshing their knowledge and skills.  So many things to take in, that I hadn’t anticipated. This was not a new experience but was one that I had not had for quite a while now and one I was not expecting.


First Session
The first session began with Sensei Dewey and Sensei Smith taking the initial bow.  Then it was over to Sensei Mat Powell for the warm up.  One of the things that I had become accustomed to during my time with SEKU was the warm up routine.  Most instructors adopted the same or very similar style of neck loosening exercises, leg exercises and arm stretches, sometimes with a little bit of jumping on the spot to warm up the whole body. Sensei Powell’s refreshing style was most welcome and most invigorating.


The warm up left me very warm and more than just a little out of breath but I was already starting to take things on-board that may help me in the future. Then it was over to Sensei Dewey who explained that we would be working on the various types of Kumite and taking it all back to its basics. 
As expected, things started off fairly light and technical with Sensei Smith walking round and correcting people’s bad habits or in my case, inexperience.  Things soon got quite frenetic, with words like Speed, Power and Speedo being bandied about with seemingly far too much regularity for my meagre level of fitness. 
The Back to Basics approach, I found really enlightening.  I thought I had pretty much got Sambon Kumite sorted, but here I was finding out new things; the kind of new things that I had been told since I started training with SEKU but now obviously hadn’t properly understood or absorbed. By the end of the first session I felt absolutely exhausted but in another way refreshed that I had being practising the same things that I had been practising since I began training but I now had a new level of understanding. The past two hours or so, had just flown by.





Second Session

The second session was led by Sensei Smith and began after just a ten minute "comfort" break. Following the first demanding session with Sensei Dewey, I think everybody was now looking forward to a less ‘Blood and Thunder’, more technical session.  The second session was certainly just as technical as the first session with Sensei Smith emphasising the ‘Zan Chin’ of each of the various Kumite forms but was also just as dynamic, if not more so. I couldn’t understand how I was able to keep going so hard for so long and yet enjoy it all so much. Even the press-ups issued by Sensei Smith when he got the idea that people had started to lose their initial ‘Buzz’ and were not responding in as sharp a way as he would have liked, seemed more achievable then I ever thought possible after such a gruelling couple of hours.

All the way through the training sessions the need for and meaning of ‘Kimae’ had been stressed and I think it was this, in detail, explanation that was partly responsible for me surviving the course. The whole idea of controlling the breathing and only applying power where it was actually needed, all the things that Sensei had been talking about in all of our home dojo training sessions, were now explained and experienced with a different perspective.


During the technical explanations of each of the basic techniques that we had all done so many times before it was starting to finally become clearer as to what the referees were actually looking at when judging the Kata and Kumite in the competitions and perhaps why I had not done as well as perhaps I thought I should have when competing against brown belts in the past. They had obviously had this level of insight in the past and were able to put it into practice.
Whilst training at the various clubs and courses within SEKU I have often noticed the apparent gulf in skill level between some of the newer brown belts and the obvious expertise of the Dan grades and wondered how one would go about making that transition.  I think I have had my first insight into just how that might happen.  After having survived and learnt so much from just one course that was pitched solely at Dan grades’ and budding Dan grades’ (Brown Belts) level, I can start to see how that enormous transition could come about. I just hope that I can take away what I learnt and start to put it into practice with Sensei’s guidance back at the club and I am so looking forward to the next one.
My final thought was one of pity for the poor guys that had their First and Second Dan grading with just another ten minute break in between.  Anybody who is awarded a Black Belt has, without doubt, earned it and is worthy of all the respect that they are afforded commensurate with their grade.

If I were to be asked to give advice to anyone about to attend a SEKU Black and Brown Belt Course on how to survive it, it would be to go into it with an open mind and without too many pre-conceptions, listen closely to what is taught, concentrate on your breathing control and expect to absorb an awful lot of information in quite a short time.

The having fun whilst training will happen anyway."



2020 Karate Lessons

All lessons are now back to normal

Wednesday at Castle Primary School. Castle St. PO16 9QQ

Children and adult lower grades: 18.45 to 19.50hr.

Senior grades: 20.05 to 21.15hr

Thursday morning at Castle St day Centre.

Senior citizens, shift workers, etc, etc. 10.00 to 11.15hr

Friday at Portchester Community School, White Hart lane.

PO16 9BD

Under 8s: 18.00 to 18.45hr.

children 8+: 18.50 to 19.50hr.

Adults: 20.05 to 21.15hr.

Saturday at Portchester Community School, White Hart lane.

All grades: 10.15 to 11.30hr

Karate Day time lessons

Daytime Karate lessons are now being held on Thursday mornings at the Castle St, Portchester,  Day Centre. For further information please ring 07713284430 or email

These classes are for a range of people with varying abilities and in particular for the older and fairly active person that would like to benefit from the health aspects of practicing Karate and at the same time exercising their minds in the learning of new skills.

Existing students of Karate are also catered for in the lessons. In particular those on shift work and others that cannot get to their regular training lessons.

Further information

For the Portchester Karate Club and clubs in other areas or different training times, please email or telephone 07713284430.

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