In a commanding Caribbean accent, Professor Don Jacob addressed a standing line of earnest martial arts students at the Ucluelet Community Centre last month.
“Anything you start, you should start with the end goal in mind,” said the ninth degree black belt and founder of the Purple Dragon Don Jitsu Ryu martial arts system.
“I came here to make champions. Work hard and get your black belt.”
Twice annually, Prof. Jacob travels to the West Coast from Trinidad and Tobago to conduct belt grading for Senpai Ian Shu’s Purple Dragon students.
Senpai Ian told the Westerly he is so grateful the Professor makes the trip.
“It [Ucluelet] is a long way. We’re at the end of the road here,” Senpai Ian said.
This time around, nine locals were tested, and all of them passed.
Ottis Crabbe was one of the students to undergo testing. He said he had been preparing with Senpai Ian for the last six months, practicing kata routines, sparing, and self-defence exercises.
“You have to stick with it and really have motivation to get your next belt,” said the grade 10 student who achieved his orange belt on testing day.
In the authentic Purple Dragon grading system, white is the first belt, followed by yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, and brown. Black belt is the highest and there are nine degrees of black belt.
Prof. Jacob explained how Don Jitsu Ryu sets itself apart from other forms of martial arts.
“It was born in the Caribbean, so when you see it in action it’s very rhythmic. Almost like a dance rhythm,” he said.
“The lifestyle philosophy to the system is awesome. The difference is, whenever we do an exercise we want to be able to think something before we do it. When you are doing the push-up you’re thinking about moving up in life, being more healthy, being a good husband, a good wife, a good citizen… It’s not like you’re just doing the exercise to get your muscles developed, but get your mind to develop in a productive way.
“We take on a thought and in the thought we exercise throughout that thought process. It’s not just movements, it’s movements with a purpose.”
Students of Don Jitsu Ryu are required to wear a white uniform called a ‘Gi’ to class.
“We believe in the uniform we wear,” said Prof. Jacob.
“When we put on this uniform we feel we are covered by a uniform that encourages respect, honour and integrity. It’s not just a karate suit.”
Prof. Jacob will return to the West Coast in the spring to conduct another round of belt grading and a special workshop.