An Angus man has received one of the highest accolades in the world of karate during a two week trip to the Far East.
Alan Leslie, from Forfar, travelled to the birthplace of karate: Okinawa, Japan (known as the Ryukyu Kingdom when karate was first developed). During his stay he was graded a Second-Degree Black Belt from the Masters of the Jundokan in the style of Goju Ryu.
Alan said: “Okinawa is where karate was born and every single style traces its lineage there, so it’s basically the Mecca for karate.
“The dojo I attended, the Jundokan, is the Mecca for my style.”
Goju Ryu’s origins lie in the late 19th century and was officially founded in 1930. It features a combination of ‘hard and soft’ techniques and has a major emphasis on breathing.
Alan attends the Forfar Jundokan Karate Club; a branch of the Jundokan style. Members train there Tuesday nights at the Boys Brigade Hall in Queen Street, Forfar, from 7:30pm to 9pm.
His sensei there, Derek Keith, is the chief instructor for Scotland with over 40 years in the style.
Alan has trained for seven years. “There are no shortcuts in getting grades in this style,” he added. “It takes dedication.”
His grading took place in front of four masters, none of which were below ‘seventh Dan’.
“They were watching my every moment. Although it was not the most physical grading I’ve had, it was the most harrowing as I had to be as technically perfect as I could.
“I had nowhere to hide.”
Summing up his journey he said: “I was training every night of my two week stay
“It was the trip of a lifetime. The island is beautiful and so warm – both the temperatures and the people.
“Some think Black Belt is the pinnacle [of karate], but I’ve come to realise it’s just the beginning.”