NEWS

Malta Karate Federation athletes reach black belt milestone

By Michelle Conti | In Achievements, News | on October 31, 2022

On Saturday 15th October, eight diligent Maltese students of karate stood poised to receive their hard-won distinctions in a Black Belt grading ceremony held at Mgarr Dojo.

In a testament to their relentless dedication, three advanced athletes, namely Damian Vella Lenicker, Charles Axiaq, and Lino Spiteri – who has been practising karate for 50 years – were awarded the incredible honour of 4th dan. Commenting on their achievement, Damian Vella Lenicker acknowledged that the dedication required was “tough”, while Charles Axiaq thanked the Senseis for their efforts and assistance.

Five youths aged 14-15 years old also achieved 1st dan: the first step in the ranking system that denotes the various levels of Black Belt mastery. Exemplary for their generation, Francesca Saliba, Francesca Caruana, Gabriel Borg, Ryan Pace and Gregory Camilleri proudly lined up to be accredited for their efforts after many years of intensive training and rehearsal.

Going through this process generally takes athletes five to ten years depending on the frequency of training. Francesca Caruana recounted “10 years of discipline, dedication and drive”, while Ryan Pace, Gregory Camilleri and Gabriel Borg credited a joint effort that involved training together and encouraging each other along their shared journey. Achieving a black belt was an emotional accomplishment for these young athletes, but is far from the end of the journey – although an incredibly impressive feat itself, there are usually nine further stages or ‘dan’ of black belt. The testing process is painstakingly particular, with only the most dedicated students being able to progress after being examined by a board of respected and high-ranking Senseis.

All grades were awarded by the examination board comprised of Technical Director Sensei Jesmond Schembri, Chairman Sensei James Galea, Sensei Anthony Zammit and Sensei Jason Edwards.

Part of the requirements for advancing to a higher level is the assessment of a student’s ‘kata’ – a sequence of moves of increasing difficulty that must be executed with total perfection. In the same weekend, between 13 – 15 October, Maltese karate students had the privilege of receiving a three-day training seminar from world-renowned Maestro Santo Torre, who has achieved the prestigious 8th dan. As Foreign Technical Consultant to the Malta Karate Federation, Maestro Torre spent a total of 17 hours training the elite groups of the federation. Blue belt students benefited from an open class, while brown and black belt students honed their skills in an intricate kata named ‘kururunfa’, and in a process of extracting fighting techniques called ‘bunkai’.

The seminar served as valuable training for the federation’s competing kata athletes. Daniel Spearing, Jessica Vella and Francesca Saliba will be travelling this weekend to Konya, Turkey, as contenders in the upcoming World Karate Championships to represent the Maltese nation on a global scale. Speaking about the experience, Daniel Spearing commented that it had “widened his knowledge and perspective on karate”.

Promising younger members of the federation will also be competing with kata in the World Karate Federation Youth League, due to be held in Venice this December.

Atleti tal-Malta Karate Federation jilħqu livell ta’ Black Belt 1st Dan u 4th Dan

Tmien studenti diliġenti tal-karate rċevew gradi differenti f’ċerimonja tal-eżami tal-Black Belt, is-Sibt 15 ta’ Ottubru ġewwa d-dojo tal-Imgarr.

Bħala turija għad-dedikazzjoni inkredibbli tagħhom, it-tlett atleti avvanzati Damian Vella Lenicker, Charles Axiaq u Lino Spiteri – li ilu jipprattika l-karate dawn l-aħħar 50 sena – rċevew l-unur tar-raba’ dan fil-black belt. Damien Vella Lenicker sostna li d-dedikazzjoni neċessarja kienet “iebsa”, filwaqt li Charles Axiaq irringrazzja lis-Senseis għall-ħila u l-assistenza tagħhom.

Ħames atleti oħra żgħażagħ li għandhom bejn 14 u 15-il sena akkwistaw l-ewwel dan: il-pass inizjali fis-sistema tal-gradi differenti tal-black belt. Francesca Saliba, Francesca Caruana, Gabriel Borg, Ryan Pace u Gregory Camilleri huma kburin b’din il-kisba eżemplari, li hija frott ħafna snin ta’ taħriġ intensiv u kontinwu.

Il-proċess sabiex atleta takkwista black belt ġeneralment jieħu madwar ħames sa għaxar snin u jiddependi fuq il-frekwenza tat-taħriġ. Francesca Caruana issemmi “10 snin ta’ dixxiplina, dedikazzjoni u motivazzjoni”, mentri Ryan Pace, Gregory Camilleri u Gabriel Borg jenfasizzaw l-importanza tat-tim li ħadem id f’id matul dan il-vjaġġ kollettiv. Il-kisba tal-black belt kienet waħda emozzjonali u bla dubju straordinarja għal dawn l-atleti żgħażagħ, pero hija wkoll biss il-bidu ta’ dan it-traġitt, li jinvolvi disa’ gradi oħra ta’ dan tal-black belt. Il-proċess tal-eżami huwa iebes ħafna peress li jkunu biss l-iktar studenti dedikati li jirnexxielhom jkomplu javvanzaw, wara li jiġu eżaminati minn bord ta’ Senseis tal-għola livell.

Il-gradi ġew mogħtija minn bord ta eżaminaturi magħmul mid-Direttur Tekniku Sensei Jesmond Schembri, miċ-Chairman Sensei James Galea, Sensei Anthony Zammit u Sensei Jason Edwards.

Waħda mir-rekwiżiti sabiex studenti jkomplu javvanzaw hija bla dubju l-perfezzjoni fil-prestazzjoni tagħhom tal-kata. Din tinvolvi sekwenzi differenti li jvarjaw fid-diffikultà skond il-grad. Fl-istess weekend bejn it-13 u l-15 ta’ Ottubru, studenti Maltin tal-karate kellhom l-unur li jipparteċipaw f’seminar imħejji mis-Sensei internazzjonali Maestro Santo Torre, li saħansitra laħaq it-tmien dan tal-black belt. Bħala konsulent barrani tekniku għall-Federazzjoni Maltija tal-Karate, Maestro Torre mexxa taħriġ ta’ 17-il siegħa għall-gruppi tal-għola livell tal-federazzjoni. Studenti tal-blue belt kellhom l-unur li jattendu klassi miftuħa, filwaqt li l-istudenti brown u black belt ipperfezzjonaw l-abiltajiet tagħhom fil-kata kururunfa u fil-bunkai – proċess ta’ estrazzjoni u analiżi ta’ sekwenzi fil-kata.

Is-seminar serva wkoll bħala taħriġ prezzjuż għall-atleti tal-federazzjoni. Daniel Spearing, Jessica Vella u Francesca Saliba ser jirrapreżentaw lil Malta fuq skala internazzjonali fil-Kampjonat Mondjali tal-Karate, li se jsir dan il-weekend f’Konya ġewwa t-Turkija. Daniel Spearing qalilna li s-seminar kien esperjenza li mhux biss għallmitu iktar fuq il-karate, imma li wkoll fetħitlu għajnejh fuq bosta aspetti ta’ din l-arti marzjali.

Membri oħra żgħar tal-federazzjoni ħa jkunu qed jikkompetu bil-kata fis-sezzjoni taż-żgħażagħ tal-Kampjonat Mondjali tal-Karate, li se jsir f’Diċembru li jmiss ġewwa Venezja.

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