What? Not those Waltons? Sorry...
Hideously dated cultural references aside, I just wanted to say a big congratulations to Eric, Ross and Kate Walton on their grading successes at this past weekend's Adult National course in Larbert. After an intense weekend of training, Eric is now a 4th Dan black belt, Ross is a 3rd Dan and Kate moves up from brown belt to 1st Dan.
I've enjoyed training with all of them over the years, with Eric and Ross being part of the club since I joined back in 2007 and it's been great to see them advance through the grades. Eric has been a great teacher and has given me plenty of encouragement and tips over the years. Mind you, he is a sneaky so-and-so and you always have to be on your guard when training with him.
Ross would have been 14ish when I started training so to see him now as a third Dan is really cool. He's also a lot bigger and stronger than he was back then and has developed into an excellent training partner and coach.
Kate started with the club as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award and enjoyed it so much, she stayed with us and now is a black belt. As was the case with me back in November, she was delighted to get this.
Now you may be thinking, this is one crazy family. And you'd be right, but despite eight Dan grades between them and the photographic evidence, they genuinely are really good people. Well done all of you!
As mentioned a few weeks ago, the club launched a Women's Self Defence Course on 22nd February. Run by Emma and I, this was intended to teach some simple self defence moves, without the potentially intimidating atmosphere of a martial arts club.
We tried a variety of routes to publicise this, handing out flyers to parents at our junior classes, on the Bearsden Community Facebook page and an article in the local newspaper. This generated a good level of interest, with the most hits over a week that this website has ever received. Nevertheless, we were unsure how many people would actually turn up. What if nobody came? For a first attempt, we thought we might get six people and we would have been delighted.
Instead, we had 16 people join us for the six weeks. Wow! We'd better get to work.
Emma and I had worked on a schedule of beginning with pads and then teaching a couple of skills each week. The following week would feature a recap of the previous session before moving onto the new skill.
The first week took a little longer to get started, getting everyone registered and explaining the aims of the course. We started with some pads and then some basic contact and movement. Everyone was a little tentative, which is to be expected. We hit pads and have contact every week but when it's new, it can feel a bit weird. One thing that became apparent - 45 minutes was going to pass very quickly.
Week 2 focused on reacting to a wrist grab, making use of some of John's patented quick and effective moves.
The third seek featured being grabbed from behind and a variety of ways to escape. Also notable is by this time we were remembering everyone's names!
In week 4, a real life policeman joined us to give a talk on things to look out for and how some of these moves may be perceived, for example on CCTV. We also practiced moving through a crowd when you do not know where a threat may come from. This borrowed from an excellent practice that Pauline Walmsley has taught at courses.
Into week 5 and we covered being pushed against a wall and being choked. The latter element can feel quite uncomfortable and we advised anyone who did not like that to focus on being grabbed instead. This was the one session we felt had too much in it given the time constraints so we'll look to rework this a bit.
Lastly in week 6 we put it all together and invited Fraser and John to join us, to give everyone someone different to practise the moves on. We closed out with Emma and I doing a short demo of a typical club practice, with some pads, sparring and takedowns. Hopefully nobody was too intimated by this and might even come and join the club.
So that was our six weeks. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the session and we received some lovely feedback forms from the class. Emma and I had an absolute blast putting it together and running the course, so much so that we are going to run a second block of six lessons, starting on 19th April. We're looking forward to it and hope to see some of our originals return and some new people joining. See you on the 19th!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.