Welcome back to Sensei's blog with our annual review 0f 2019.
When you look back over a year, it’s amazing the amount and variety of activities we took part in as a martial arts club.
As a not for profit Community Amateur Sports Club, our doors are always open to outside clubs and organisations, and last year we welcomed Cubs and Beavers from St Francis, Abu Hanifah and St Leonards to take part in free martial arts sessions. St Francis repaid the compliment by putting on a fundraising cake stall for us later in the year.
Recognition is a great thing and it gives students a real sense of achievement.
In February our prestige Adults Awards Night at the Dunkenhalgh saw
Dave Cottam take the Top Student Award, with runners up Karenne and Asma also present. Sensei’s Phil & Steve also received a special recognition award for the success of our Blackburn Academy.
In March, the Mayor of Blackburn was our guest of honour at our sold out Junior Awards Event at Ewood Park, with around 100 junior students recognised in a variety of positive rewards Top Student Award went to Amy who received a specially engraved bokken.
In May, our black belt Jake Maginn won a national award
– Student of The Year – at the NEST Management event in Nottingham. This was a fantastic achievement and a great recognition of the dedication & commitment we see each week
Competitions are a great opportunity for students to set goals, test themselves and make friends from all over.
Our fundraising Defibrillators for Schools project is in its fifth year now. It allows our students to focus on a good cause and give something back to our local community. We donated five defibrillators to Blackburn primary schools this year, St James Lower Darwen, Intack Primary, St Anthony's, Shadsworth Juniors and Meadowhead Infants. With each device costing over £800, students have been busy bag packing at Asda and writing letters to businesses.
Our Junior Awards event is also used to support this cause and 2019 saw our 21st defibrillator donated. Our staff also provide Basic Life Support & Defibrillator training for free to schools.
In March, in support of our students training, we launched our Masters of Martial Arts Blackburn YouTube channel, with training videos to support practice at home. Our Little Dragons programme saw several students reach their top Dragon belt, before progressing onto our junior classes, and our Dragon Tots pre school class for 3 & 4 year olds was launched.
You all know how seriously we take our responsibilities. This year our coaches requalified in their coaching level 2, 3 or 4 certificates, with some attending the National Referees Course too.
Plus we created some new Sensei’s – Mathew, Zain, Jaun, Fateh and Rayyan. We also welcomed Sensei’s John Forshaw (star of Homes Under The Hammer), Ali Shah & Elle Fox to the coaching staff .
In June, the club was awarded the nationally recognised Safeguarding Code in Martial Arts ‘mark’, in recognition of having all the correct policies, procedures and practices in place. This is something we are very proud of as few martial arts schools locally have this.
Students welfare is always a priority, so we had a visit and input from Blackburn With Darwen Well Being Service, who gave some very interesting talks on reducing sugar reduction. We introduced our Academy water bottles, free to members when they pledged support, to encourage a healthier water drinking regime.
We’ve put plenty on for our members and outside organisations too, with plenty of birthday parties for our students, a Samurai Summer Camp, Halloween party, courses for Blackburn College, Tauhudeel Islamic Girls School, Youth Action and Children’s University. This summer we stayed open right though the school holidays to provide activities when everything else closes. Our social events - the Family Sponsored Walk at Witton in June and the social meal in December at Roomali was a great opportunity to get to know each other outside of the dojo
Our students have progressed too.
We held three junior gradings this year with over 150 junior Blackburn students progressing at each, and two gradings for the adults with about thirty at each, we really can say that our students are improving.
We invited Sensei Lynne Randall, 8th dan, one of the highest-ranking females in the country, to visit in December to inspire our ladies class and Sensei Nigel Whitehead supported our competition students in October.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, we put on some great activities for our Open Day in September where we invited the public to come and see what a fantastic venue and set of
students we have.
Our popularity does have its downsides. We’ve had to close two classes on Saturdays to newcomers as they are now full, but we still have 26 other sessions throughout the week so it’s not all bad.
2019 saw our student base grow by over 20% and as can be seen, a great range of activities above and beyond martial arts.
We aim to produce not just good martial arts students, but fully rounded, confident individuals with a good sense of what is right and wrong, and an ability to know how to do the right thing.
There’s loads more success stories we could have told too.
Here's hoping your New Year has got of to a great start and we wish you a great and productive 2020.
Keigu (Kind Regards)