Ashington black belts make the grade

Ashington Shotokan Karate Club is proud to have had six students recently progress to their next black belt grade.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 21st June 2021, 12:13 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 12:13 pm

At a recent ceremony, the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain) held a black belt grading in Sunderland which was part of their first series of black belt gradings since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Several students from Ashington Karate Club sat the examination to grade for their black belt, or their next Dan (degree). All of these students have been working hard over the last year and a half towards this grading, with all of them having been due to grade much earlier but unfortunately having to wait due to no gradings taking place during the pandemic.

The grading focussed on all three aspects of karate – kihon (basics), kata (set forms) and kumite (sparring) and was conducted by KUGB senior instructors Sensei Frank Brennan, 8th Dan, Sensei Billy Higgins, 8th Dan and Sensei Garry Harford, 8th Dan.

Four students from the club passed their Shodan (1st Dan Black Belt) grading – Charlotte Reason (10), Callum Caldwell (13), Georgie Lawrence (20) and Katie Knox (23) – and will now join the ranks of the club’s black belts.

Denny Shy (15) passed his Nidan (2nd Dan) grading, and Gemma Gibson passed her Sandan (3rd Dan) grading at the minimum possible age of 21, a whole seven years after she passed her previous grading in 2014.

All six club members train twice a week with Sensei Jill Kelly, 6th Dan and Sensei Trish Bruce, 6th Dan and passed their gradings on their first attempt.

Senior club instructor Sensei Jill Kelly said: “It has been extremely difficult for all our students to maintain their training during the pandemic restrictions, but these new black belts have put in extra special efforts to maintain and improve their standard and fitness. We are especially pleased to welcome Gemma Gibson, 3rd Dan to our ranks of high-grade instructors.”

Ashington Karate Club trains at Ashington Leisure Centre on Saturday morning’s and Thursday evening’s and welcome new beginners of all ages. Contact Sensei Jill Kelly on 07930324556 or visit for further details.