The Purple Dragon Cayman Islands School of Martial Arts recently acquired their first female sensei (3rd degree black belt) along with four new 1st degree black belts, all aged 10 or under!
The team consisted of four children, nine-year-olds Jabari Campbell, Kray Foster, Corey Mellaneo and Stephen Rivers, ten with Karen Baptiste, 39.
They travelled with their coach, Sensei Floyd Baptiste, Karen’s husband and their family supporters to grade or test for their new ranks in Trinidad and Tobago at the Purple Dragon World Headquarters.
In order to become a Purple Dragon black belt the students had to participate in three days of gruelling and intense physical activity, as well as acquire further knowledge on their style of martial arts, Don Jitsu Ryu, through listening to various lectures from senior ranking officials. They also had to demonstrate their knowledge of the system and its history.
The grading or testing began on 31 July and was completed on 2 August. The first day comprised of intense physical activities and lectures, the second day was katas which is a form of fighting against several imaginary opponents, running, weapons, breakfalls which is showing your ability to protect yourself while falling or being thrown by an opponent and self defense against multiple opponents.
The third day comprised of a long distance run followed by various types of competition fighting including point fighting and kick sparring in which the legs only are used.
There were also additional lectures and finally the results.
Little Jabari Campbell found that Sensei Nicole Thomas’s workout and drills the first night was the hardest but he enjoyed the fighting on the Sunday.
Antoinette, Corey’s mother said of the experience: ‘It has been proven again that we have children right here on our Islands that are just awaiting an opportunity to shine.
‘With the intense fitness drills that were conducted by one of the officials (Sensei Nicole) from Trinidad on the Friday night was heartbreaking to watch, but, the children wanted their black belt so we offer them what we know best our motherly love and encouragement.’
The Cayman team was part of a group of 23 candidates all vying for their black belts or varying degrees.
Besides Cayman, the group included candidates from Canada, Tortola as well as Trinidad and Tobago. At the end of the grading, all candidates were successful with the Cayman team all passing. Sensei Karen said: ‘No matter your age or your circumstances once you put your mind to it you can achieve your goals.’
Myrnet, Kray’s mother said: ‘The black belt grading was a phenomenal experience, emotions were running high and I was on the edge of my seat watching our nine year olds perform at the level that they were.
‘The Purple Dragon family support and camaraderie was amazing and I’m looking forward to 2012 when Kray will try for his 2nd degree black belt.’
Denise, Jabari’s mom said: ‘Black belt grading far exceeded my expectations, in a positive way. Prior advice from Sensei Floyd, Sensei Karen and past participants helped. As the parent of the smallest student, at times I felt like shouting ‘he is too small for this, he is just a kid’. But he is a Purple Dragon karate kid and they teach that he should persevere and never give up and failure will not be his payment for his struggles.
‘I was also privileged to witness again that at any Purple Dragon event it is a family affair. That really warmed my heart.’
Sensei Floyd said: ‘All of the students worked hard and made Purple Dragon Cayman Islands proud.’
- The Purple Dragon School of martial arts operates out of the Largatos Building on the West Bay Rd. They can be reached at 946-1241 or [email protected] for more information on their programmes.