Kyokushin karate-Verghese, Françoise promoted to fifth dan black belt


Shihan Phillip is flanked by shihan Phillip Verghese (left) and shihan Francis Françoise

Last Saturday in front of a large crowd of fellow members who were taking part in a kyu (coloured) belt grading at the Young Lions Dojo in Belonie, local Kyokushin branch chief shihan Phillip Moustache, sixth dan, informed the two senior karatekas that they had succeeded in the grading they undertook under Kyokushin grandmaster Kancho Shokei Matsui in Reunion on September 30.

Shihan Moustache informed them that they had been promoted to the grade of fifth dan (Godan) black belt in Kyokushin karate. This signifies the attainment of a mastery of the deeper meaning of Kyokushinkai karate – the techniques used at basic and advanced level – and all katas of Kyokushin karate. In Japan, only karatekas who hold the rank of fifth dan or above are permitted to use the title of shihan which signifies master. This news was met with rapturous applause by their fellow karatekas.     

The two karatekas did their grading for their fourth dan in February 2005 and were eligible to grade for their fifth dan in 2011. In August last year, they went to Japan and along with 10 karatekas from other countries, they attempted their fifth dan grading under Kancho Matsui during the Mt. Mitsumine Training Camp. They were later informed that no one had passed the grading, thus attesting to the difficulty of obtaining this prestigious grade and the title of shihan.

Though initially disappointed, they resumed training with more determination under the tutelage of their branch chief. Part of the preparation involved attending the early morning training sessions from 5am to 6am every day at the Young Lions Dojo and additional training sessions in the evenings. They also had to do additional personal training. 
During the grading in Reunion, the Seychellois karatekas were the only candidates attempting their fifth dan and were subject to greater scrutiny by Kancho Matsui. This time, he was impressed enough to confer upon them the long-awaited promotion.

With this promotion, the Seychelles Kyokushin karate school makes history by becoming the only Kyokushin school in the Indian Ocean region, let alone in Seychelles, that boasts three shihans who continue to train actively, and on a daily basis. This achievement is even greater when one considers the size and population of Seychelles compared to other countries especially as the local Kyokushin school has been in existence for only 27 years.

With a total population of about 50.5 million people, the Kyokushin karate organisation in South Africa has three shihans (one seventh dan and two fifth dans) while Seychelles with a population of only about 90,000 people also has three shihans (one sixth dan and two fifth dans).

The Seychelles Kyokushin karate school also has the highest graded Seychellois karateka in the world.               
Hearty congratulations to shihan Phillip Verghese and shihan Francis Françoise who continue to make Seychelles proud.