Even though they have stayed for long without a coach, the Sir Seretse Khama Barracks Judo Club members recently passed their national grading.
For a long time, the club’s members were forced to find other ways and means to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to pass the grading. Among members who passed the Brown Belt grading are Major Henock Lowani, Mpho Mmatli, Chalebgwa Mabua and Ashailen Naicker.
Naicker, who was also the youngest amongst the candidates, took top honours and achieved a pass rate of 90%. The annual national grading was recently held by The Botswana Judo Federation for judokas who qualified to be graded for Brown belts.
President of Botswana Judo, Estony Hattingh, told The Sunday Standard that grading is an important aspect in the world of Judo.
“An important aspect of the world of judo is its grading system, because it represents how the institution of Judo, through its various organizations and members, recognizes the development of knowledge and skills in a person, as well as his or her contributions to the sport and discipline of Judo,” she said.
She added that by using the grading system, the various ranks of judo are conferred on students upon attainment of the knowledge and through contributions, as evidenced through many areas of the students’ life. These may include competition performance, daily practices, contributions to the Judo club and others.
Hattingh further explained that rank is symbolized in Judo through the various colours of the belt.
The ranking system in judo includes two types of ranks, kyu (coloured belts) and dan (black belts). The dan grades are the more senior, and are signified by the wearing of the black belt.
She further explained that though each country and organization has its own criteria and policies for the conferring of rank, there is a general consensus that the change from kyu to dan, or from brown belt to 1st dan black belt, represents a qualitative development in the student.
“The student awarded the black belt has developed some degree of proficiency in the various techniques of judo and will have demonstrated its effectiveness in competition against same rank opponents. More importantly, this student will have shown enough maturity, commitment, and fortitude to be a serious student of judo, having internalised some of the values and ethics of the educational system of judo,” she explained.
Hattingh noted that the general public perception that wearing a black belt means that one is an expert is not really true.
“In reality, the awarding of the 1st degree black belt in judo signifies that the student is now truly ready to begin learning judo,” she said.
Grading Masters who were appointed by the Federation to officiate at this event include Sensei Willie Paulsen, Sensei Gilberto Portuondo Feil and Sensei Estony Hattingh, all of whom are qualified in their field as grading masters and have high expectations of the members being graded. Hattingh further revealed that it is the first time in the history of Botswana Judo that so many members have been graded for brown belts at the same time.