Trio edge ever closer at grand finale grading

Whakatane Haidong Gumdo has capped off a great year with an excellent grading. Ten club members all successfully achieved their next belt on Tuesday night at the Ohope Hall. In his first grading, Dakoda Waikato was outstanding as he graded from white belt to yellow belt. Meanwhile, Due to some unavailable members, Ned Fairlie was the only yellow belt of five to grade through green belt. Fairlie now joins current club green belts James Caudwell and Josh Burgess.

All of the club’s black belts have really stepped up in 2022. They have lead by example and have helped the junior belts whenever support is needed. Tuesday was no different. While helping out the junior belts get through grading, they also managed to complete their own gradings, with focus. Assistant instructor Michael Harland and James Clarke, both in their matching blue outfits, took a step towards their 2nd Dan Black Belts. Shayne Robinson, Chris and Brooke Power then took to the centre floor moving towards their 3rd Dan black Belts.

“Our last semester, we focused on supporting our mental health.” said Head Instructor Danyel Degenhardt. “The way our club graded as a whole showed many of the members have benefitted from focusing on their mental health. They were composed, and performed well.”

However, the main event was saved until last. Angus Macrae, Urs Junker and Finn Fairlie all graded from red belt to Chodanbo (red/Black) Belt. In a very physical and tough grading, all three members came through strong. The trio are now just one grading from there long anticipated Black Belt. However, before that grading they must complete their ordeal. The ordeal is a test one hour of dan jeon ho (meditation stance) and 1000 cuts with your sword from a position on your knees. The trio will be joined by Alex Harland as they start training to attempt the ordeal in the New Year.

Angus Macrae was partiacally excellent as he stole the Grade of the Day award off his fellow belt brother, Urs Junker. This was the second time in 2022 that Macrae has won the award, with the first time awarded back in April.  “It was just another grading as usual, with a bit more intensity than normal for obvious reasons” Said Macrae  “but going up there to receive my belt and hear from Master Garry Carpenter I was the Grade of the day came as a shock, but it was gladly received and a could be no less honoured”.

The grading then finished off with papercutting. Everyone passed with style. It has been a tough but good year in 2022 for club. A year of highs and lows with highlights such as Head Instructor Degenhardt achieving his 3rd Dan Black Belt, to James Caudwell winning the Sword of the year award. And let’s not forgot Finn Fairlie’s heroics at the New Zealand Lightsabre Guild National championships, in which he placed 4th. The club will now enjoy a month long break before resuming their training on the 17 of January.

2023 will be a big year, with New Zealand planning to send a team to South Korea for the 2023 Haidong Gumdo World Championships. “If we are to maintain our Top International Country status at the 2023 World Haidong Gumdo Championships, we will need to work harder to develop our skills.” Said Degenhardt “We need to have more balance within our movements, and be stronger with our cuts.”

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