It is the last few weeks in September S.O.U.L. family and nothing gives me more pleasure than to have a grading to write about.

 

Each one of us at S.O.U.L. have experienced our own version of the lockdown and the strange circumstances that this presented on a personal and a club level.

After what seemed like an eternity, we received a date from Ma’am that the grading was going ahead and that the belts that we had been waiting for were available again.

What incredible progress in the space of six months! If you think back to the cold evenings of the Spring when we were gathering in our ‘bubbles’ on the field, it seems like a very different world to the halls where we can train together as we are used to.

 

I would like to say a belated congratulations to everyone who turned up to Ferndown on the 4th to go for their grading. For some of you it was the first and there is nothing quite like that ‘white belt’ experience. I remember mine like it was yesterday and, in some ways, it was my hardest out of all of them due to nerves and my fitness levels. For others it was the long-awaited upgrade after holding on for much longer than normal due to the circumstances that we found ourselves in.

I was not present myself, but I heard the most wonderful feedback from the black belts (and others) that every S.O.U.L. member put everything that they had into their time in front of the table. A massive congratulations to Ella Hitchcock for achieving the Credit Pass!

 

In June 2020 I was due to take my black belt which I was ready and prepared for. A month before this I had the intuition that something would happen, and Ma’am was forced to cancel all gradings in accordance with government policy.

This September I got my opportunity and alongside Mr Baker and Mr Solly I took my black belt in a pristine new hall in the beautiful village of Charlton Marshall.

On a physical level it was everything that I expected it to be…incredibly challenging and testing to the maximum. I have had the honour of training alongside Mr Baker and Mr Solly since 2016 and I could not have asked for better grading partners. Leading up to the grading I felt like the little brother tagging along for the ride because Mr Solly and Mr Baker have just achieved their 3rd Degree black belts. They also have significant experience in other martial arts in comparison to my five years of training with S.O.U.L. Kickboxing, despite us all being the same age.

Nothing quite prepared me for the emotional side. At the end of the grading as we answered our theory a rush of emotion was felt by all of us, including Ma’am, at the realisation of what we had just achieved.

I am honoured to now be holding a 1st Degree black belt and my gratitude lies with Ma’am for being the incredible teacher that she is and the dedication that she, and the other instructors, put into our club.

 

The lockdown has changed S.O.U.L. and I feel that we have come back with a dedication and strength that each of us can feel when we gather together. It is lovely to see the new faces as well as older training partners, and I am genuinely excited to see what this coming year will bring for us.

The shorter days and darker evenings are here now so look after your bodies, your minds, your energy, and they will look after you.

 

The Rocket Race is fast approaching on the 23rd October! Good luck to everyone who is taking part.

 

See you all at training!

 

Tim Whild – 1st Degree Black Belt