Tofino and Ucluelet Purple Dragon students earn belt upgrades

“This is a community effort. It was really good to see the parents come out.”

Local Purple Dragon Don Jitsu instructor, Senpai Ian Shu, hosted a bi-annual under-belt grading event last week at the UCC.

All 29 of the martial arts students that were tested advanced to the next belt.

To facilitate the under-belt grading, Senpai Ian flew in Grande Master Prof. Don Jacob and Shi Han Anthony Thompson from Trinidad. Sensei Amber Murphy and Senpai Martina Wilschko of Purple Dragon Kitsilano also made the trek over from Vancouver to help.

“My job is not to just come and say, ‘Alright everybody, line-up and do this kick and do the splits and let’s go and win a trophy,’” said Prof. Jacob in a punchy Caribbean accent. “Let’s see if we can win respect. Let’s see if we can win life. And let’s see if we can win better courage.”

Shi Han Anthony said the under-belt grading session was catered to accommodate the local youth.

“We always like to give students a positive solution and a positive outcome,” he said. “It was catered to the kids and to the parents and to the community so that the kids would have a victory.”

One of the central pillars of the Purple Dragon martial arts system is support for each other, notes Shi Han Anthony.

“This is a community effort. It was really good to see the parents come out. When a child was struggling to find out about themselves, the parents were cheering and even their classmates were cheering. And that is what Purple Dragon is all about.”

Prof. Don Jacob observed that the dojo on the coast is growing.

“Senpai Ian is trying hard. I think he needs more help out here. Students who would grow up and be a team. We need people to assist,” said Prof. Jacob, who has trained over 40,000 students since 1970.

Senpai Ian, a third-degree Black Belt, has been teaching martial arts to West Coast youth for over 10 years.

“We are very grateful that Professor and everyone can come here from Trinidad. It’s a long way away,” said Senpai Ian.

He’ll be back, very soon.

Prof. Jacob alongside over 80 international Black Belt students will descend on Ucluelet from Aug.24 to 26 for the 145th Purple Dragon Black Belt grading. Senpai Ian himself is hoping to become a fourth-degree Black Belt.

“I would like the people here in Ucluelet and Canada to be able to experience a [Black Belt] grading, and particularly in Ucluelet I believe it will help Senpai Ian to go to the next level,” said Prof. Jacob.

“One of the other reasons we picked Ucluelet is because somehow it feels like you’re going on a journey. Maybe not to the people here because you’re used to it, but to us, it’s almost like a spiritual journey when you have to drive through all these mountains and just roll the glass down and smell the beauty of the trees and the water.

“I want my students to come from different paths and to be able to experience my footsteps,” he said.

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