Wednesday 5th November 2008 by C. Freeman
Lee Stockley is one of the youngest students in the country to be awarded his 3rd Dan in karate which he passed on a training course in Dubai. Lee, who is 17, attended the week-long Masterclass with other high-graded students and instructors from TISKA, the Traditional International Shotokan Karate Association.
The Association, which was founded by Sensei Gursharan Sahota, has many clubs in the country and Lee has been learning the art since he was just five years old. He gained his black belt aged 11 and was 14 when he got the higher graded 2nd Dan. When he achieved his 3rd Dan, Sensei Sahota told Lee that he was youngest student in the Association's history, and maybe even in the country, to be awarded that grade.
Lee said: 'Age isn't important, the achievement is enough and the best bit was when I passed my grading because 3rd Dan takes a year's full concentration. When you've done it it's so emotional and probably the best feeling I've had in a while.'
Lee and the others got intensive tuition from Sensei Sahota with five hours of daily training where they went through various karate moves known as kihon, kata and kumite techniques, and a total of 15 students graded at 3rd, 4th and 5th Dan levels. The gradings took place over several days at Dubai where the training area, known as a dojo, looked out over a swimming pool, palm trees and beach.
Lee, who is in Year 13 at Brooke Weston, said: 'By breaking the techniques down we had the opportunity to analyse everything involved so it was a great experience for learning and for life. Sensei Sahota went back to the very beginning and then straight through to the most advanced katas we know and broke them all down, emphasising things like positioning that would give you strength.'
Karate is as much about self-control and spirit as about self-defence: Lee said: 'Anyone can kick, anyone can punch but you need to have the right mind-set. Because you've been trained in karate you can control it as well. Anyone can lose their temper but controlling it is a different thing.' Lee, who attends at least four sessions of karate a week, would ideally like to become a full time karate instructor. He already helps out by training some of the lower graded students and says that the sport boosts fitness and self-confidence.
'Confidence is a big thing. I find it much easier now to get up in front of an audience and it's also helped with GCSEs as well because you're more focussed, you know what to aim for, you know what your goals are. I feel really good to be a 17 year old who doesn't smoke or drink heavily because karate lets you keep your head. They are obviously the main two advantages as well as the friends I've made. I've never known a sport you could do where you could meet so many people through gradings, competitions and courses.'