2016 is almost in the books. It's been an eventful year in world events but closer to home, what have been the hightlights for Bearsden Martial Arts Club? I asked my club mates for their personal favourite moments.
Perhjaps unsurprisingly, gradings were highlights for many. Scott M had his first grading over the summer during a course in Greenock, saying he will never forget his first one. Just wait until the next one, Scott!
Diana loved this year with her highlight being getting to the end of it and feeling that she is making "steady progress even though I am even more acutely aware of the known unknowns and this has really boosted my confidence". It's always nice to feel progress is being made and I'd like to congratulate Diana on not one but two successful gradings in 2016 and she begins the new year as a blue belt.
For David, his highlight was seeing the progress that everybody has made over the year and the grading in November. He's far too modest to mention it but many of us were delighted to see David finally get his black belt. It's been a long time coming and it was thoroughly deserved for such a good guy.
Training and grading for first Dan was Emma's top moment and she specifically included the training part as first Dan is more than just a weekend course. It's a process with ups and downs along the way. Similar to Diana's growth in confidence, Emma pointed out that the praise from Hugh, other instructors and fellow martial artist has given her a huge spring in her step and also the feeling that she is capable and worthy of the grade, even when there were times she doubted her own ability. I could not put it any better myself, as that pretty much word for word my own highlight.
From a period of injury and low confidence in 2015, this year's training has been so good for me with many challenging but enjoyable sessions over the year, culminating in the grading in November. As mentioned in the last article, my enthusiasm for training has been renewed and my fitness level has been better than it has been in a very long time.
Previous articles have covered the joy so many members get from seeing others develop their skills and this was reflected in many comments. From our new black belts, junior black belts, kyu grades and kids coming through from beginners, it really is satisfying to see everybody improve. We have a club Facebook group and the supportive and congratulatory messages to each other before and after grading is genuinely heartwarming.
Hugh continued this theme, with one of several highlights. From a club point of view, so many people graded over the year and in particular the National Course in November that Hugh takes great pride in seeing the club develop their skills. It has also been a good year for the club in terms of membership numbers, across both our junior and adult classes. On that last note, we cannot rest on our laurels and will be looking to grow membership further in 2017.
It might not be training related, but Hugh also mentioned the club's Christmas night out! We might spend time hitting and choking each other, but we are actually quite a sociable bunch.
The final highlight was from Jamie and is perhaps the most inspiring, motivational story of the year.
Alan Dunn, who trains in our Greenock clubs, was awarded a special 2nd Dan at the spring Adult National. A keen and passionate martial artist, his progression was put on hold by a massive motorcycle accident. As soon as he could move in a wheelchair, he turned up at Billy Haggerty's door asking what can I do? And he kept coming back, getting on two canes, then one, then a stick, until finally walking freely which was nothing short of a miracle.
He still struggles but that does not stop him from training and coming to courses. Shoto Budo literally saved his life, and Alan being awarded for his sheer determination was one of Jamie's most heart warming and emotional moments of my year. I agree and that is a story that we can all be inspired by. Just amazing.
So that was 2016. We enter 2017 with a healthy club, lots of freshly graded members and our journey continues. Who knows what the new year will bring but let's hold on and enjoy the ride!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.