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Shotokan Namibia grades karateka

In a landmark event for karate in Namibia, the Shotokan Karate Academy – Japan Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA) Namibia, held their first official dan grading certification at Swakopmund on Saturday.

The event symbolised a significant step in the academy’s affiliation with JSKA Japan, JSKA Africa, and the Namibian Karate Federation.

“We are immensely proud to have the first official JSKA dan grading certificate handover in Namibia,” said chief instructor and style head of JSKA Namibia, sensei Valdemar Swart during the event.

“Our decision to make this move is rooted in creating opportunities for every karateka to compete nationally and internationally. We are opening doors for our practitioners to evolve, and our focus is on doing what’s best for them.”

In March, the academy hosted sensei Soon Pretorius, eightht dan and head of JSKA South Africa and chief instructor of JSKA Africa.

Pretorius conducted the national senior dan grading for students of the JSKA Namibia at Swakopmund.

He also represented the Japan Shotokan Karate Association’s grading panel, which was present online for the sixth dan gradings.

Pretorius asserted that the academy was “100% on the right track”, and praised the dojos for their high standard of karate and expressed excitement for JSKA Namibia’s future.

“It’s been a long road for many, and each graduation exposes karateka to different elements of the sport discipline. The process demands a lot from an individual, but such exposure is always good,” Swart said.

The preparation process for the dan gradings was no small feat, he said.

Karatekas trained for extended hours, and those aiming for first dan and higher grades submitted theoretical papers on a broad spectrum of subjects.

The grading evaluations also included assessments of ethics, values, character traits, technical proficiency, karate form, fitness, sport etiquette, discipline, positive attitude, concentration, and self-control.

The ceremony saw two karatekas, sensei Swart and sensei Wikus Oberholster earn their sixth dan.

Four karatekas received their fourth dan, six achieved their third dan, one earned this second dan, and four achieved their first dan.

Additionally, two junior karatekas were awarded their black belts.

According to Swart, the ceremony underlined the values embedded in a black belt – loyalty, honour, courage, self-respect, and discipline.

“A black belt signifies constant self-development to confront life’s challenges and opportunities. It also embodies a commitment to sharing these skills and values with others to help them navigate their paths,” he said.