The long awaited 2021 ESKA Dan Grading finally took place on Saturday 13th November at the usual venue in Little Staughton.

This year, we had 19 students grading for Inter-Dan, Shodan, Nidan and Sandan. One of the busiest Dan gradings in recent times, and without doubt, one of the most successful. By the end of the day, 19 students attempted their Dan Grades, and 19 students passed. Terrific result.

The day started at 10.00am and finished just before 5pm. All 19 students came to the Bedfordshire Dojo with an exceptional spirit and a clear desire to pass. During each section of the grading they all showed, great stamina, demonstrated a high degree of competence, and during the most intense sections of the assessment, showed great resolve and character.

Dan gradings are always a very tough event and the students should be very proud of this tremendous achievement. The results of the day highlight everyone’s gritty determination, dedication and commitment to accomplish this wonderful award. Well done to each and everyone of them.

What is a Dan Grading?

A Dan grading is the name given to the exam used to asses a students ability to progress to a certain Dan grade. A Dan grade is essentially a level of Black belt. Many non-Karateka believe a black belt to be the pinnacle of Martial Arts study, however this isn’t the case and is really where the learning starts. The system was first applied to martial arts in Japan by Kanō Jigorō (1860–1938), the founder of judo, in 1883, and later introduced to other East Asian countries.

A Dan grade is symbolised usually by a gold bar sewn onto a black belt. For example, if you were a 2nd Dan you would have 2 gold bars showing on your black belt. In ESKA (English Shotokan Karate Association) Dan grading’s are used to attempt the following grades:

  • Intermediate Black Belt (No gold bar – Brown Belt with a Black Stripe)
  • Black Belt [Shodan] (After 6 months of training the student is awarded their Shodan – 1st Dan)
  • Nidan (2nd Dan Black Belt – 2 Gold Bars)
  • Sandan (3rd Dan Black Belt – 3 Gold Bars)

Junior Dan Grading

Shodan (Black Belt – 1st Dan)

  • Bridget Breheny – Westminster Lodge
  • Jenhiel Basa – St. Albans
  • Lucas Fountain – Stevenage
  • Charlotte Catlin – Stevenage
  • Oliver De Silva – Knebworth
  • Jacob Tofts – Knebworth
  • Max Galloway – Hatfield
  • Jack Galloway – Hatfield
  • Kacper Kedziak – Hatfield
  • Andreas Petcov – Hatfield
  • Jayden Basa – St. Albans

Adult Dan Grading

Intermediate Black Belt

  • Jasmine Abrey – Stevenage
  • Jake Fairbrother – St. Albans

Shodan (Black Belt – 1st Dan)

  • Cameran Harman – St. Albans

Nidan (Black Belt – 2nd Dan)

  • Nigel De Silva – Knebworth
  • Graham Fountain – Stevenage
  • Tony Bygrave – Ickleford

Sandan (Black Belt – 3rd Dan)

  • Jenny Hanson – Knebworth
  • Matt Passingham – Knebworth

Final Word

Finally, Special thanks go to the ESKA Dan grading panel for all their dedication and on going support:

  • Sensei Mike Nursey
  • Sensei Gavin Paul
  • Sensei Paul Raymond
  • Sensei Paul Grimsey
  • Sensei Owen Ramsden
  • Sensei John Gillespie
  • Sensei Tony Stones
  • Sensei Ian Walters


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