Best of the best at Shotokan championships

Namibian Shotokan Karate Academy management, from the left in the back row, Senseini Valdemar Swart, Wikus Oberholster, Willem Burger, Georg Schurz and Hermie van Zyl. In the front are the Men’s Open Division winners, Arno Pretorius, De Wet Moolman, Marvin Mbari en Stefan de Jager.

A very successful karate project was completed by the Namibian Shotokan Karate Academy when they held their national black belt grading and national championship last weekend. FNB Namibia came in as the major sponsor helping the Academy to stage the FNB Shotokan National Championship.

The proceedings leading up to the championship started at the end of July with the national Shodan (Black Belt) grading.
According to the Namibian Shotokan management committee under leadership of Sensei Willem Burger, the Karateka were tested for Shodan and had to have a minimum of five years’ experience, with some of them even having as much as twelve years training, in karate.
“The syllabus which they had to comply with is very stringent, and this resulted in all of them training and preparing five days a week, since the beginning of the year, for the Shodan grading,” he added.
“Before an attempt could be made for the grade, all karateka had to undergo and pass a theoretical test, a fitness test and a gruelling pre-grading where all technical aspects were finely scrutinized by four senior instructors. Once this has been successfully completed, only then could they attempt the official grading which this year was held last week just before the national championship. The official grading was the ultimate test of the karateka’s proficiency and skill.
The grades ranged from ages 15 years to 65 years of age and the following karateka were successfully graded: Junior Black Belt (under the age of 16 years: Keanu Stuurman, Retief Theron Rene Gilomee, Mayvonne Swart and Kyle Burger.
Junior NiDan (2nd degree black belt under the age of 16 years): Nicolaas Swart
Shodan (Senior Black Belt); Janus Botes, Rae-Luke Erasmus; Devano Diergaardt, Ryan Kruger; Keith Openshaw, Yolande de Beer, Cindy Sabattie, Marchelle de Jager, Wilke-Mari Hamman, El-Maree Kotze, Maiko van der Bijl, Lisa Liesching, Kelly du Plessis and Jean-Pierre Bottazolli.
Sensei Willem thanked FNB for their sponsorship and commitment in the development of karate. “First National Bank really lives their motto of “How can we help you?,” he concluded.