Just some of the many participants who travelled to Kilkenny for the recent Evolution Martial Arts Academy seminar
The Evolution Martial Arts Academy Kilkenny was home to the first Masters and Grandmaster all styles open Martial Arts seminar in almost two years recently.
The chief organiser of the event was Grand Master and Kilkennyman Tom Foley (10th Dan), the World President of the Black Dragon Association Kokuryu Kai and the World All Styles Combat Association and a Kilkenny Man.
Started in Kilkenny by Tom in 1979, the Association now touches 136 countries across the globe. Top Masters and students travelled from all points of the country to attend this prestigious event, with the attendance boasting guests from Derry City to Cork.
With the global pandemic still present, care and safety were the order of the day. Participants were met at the front door by members of the HSE who checked all Covid passports, signed people in and took all their details. A description of Covid etiquette was explained to all before they were allowed to proceed to the event.
The first order of business at the Association seminars is to present Dan Grade Certificates to all who had been upgraded. A total of 17 people were awarded the hard to get black belt certificates, with the highest rank going to Association Executive Director Garry Bergin from Dublin who was awarded his 8th Dan black belt.
Garry was a long-time student of Prof George Canning (10th Dan), a friend and colleague of the Association, who passed away in 2021. Prof Canning was recognised by all as the father of all martial arts in the country.
Following the presentations it was into training mode, with over 30 of the top Masters in the Country on the floor. Various styles were from many styles of Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Akaijitsu, Kick Boxing, K1, Unarmed and Armed Combat. The amount of talent on the floor was amazing and very much appreciated and enjoyed by all.
Each Master/Grandmaster took the class for 10 minutes, demonstrating their way and concept of the arts. Students would practice the technique under the watchful eye of the Master.
The next Master up might follow up the last technique shown with his way of doing it and adding little pieces here and there, with others showing something completely different. In a day of learning and understanding the different styles highlighted why the seminars are held - so Masters and students can learn from each other.
The seminars, which are always open to all bona fide martial artists, no matter who they are or where they come from, can help to advance the standard of martial arts in the country. The seminars are not just for the students but for the Instructors also. At the seminar participants are required to practice with colleagues, regardless of rank, and change partner every so often to broaden their experience.
On the day every Instructor called out to teach is given the total respect of his name, rank and style - but that is as far as it goes. No-one holds any formal rank on the floor, with all participants treated on a one-to-one basis.
No instructor, regardless of rank, takes fees or expenses at the seminar. All fees are split between the host club (75% and the Association (25%), which helps to cover expenses and much needed funds for the host club.
The seminars are held several times a year across the country and are always very well attended. The Kilkenny seminar was a big success, with special thanks going to Chief Instructor of the Kilkenny Evolution Martial Arts Academy Kyoshi Mags Heffernan (7th Dan) and her organising committee for their hard work. Mags holds her classes on the top floor of the Girl Guides Den on the Bennettsbridge Road. Participants of all ages, male and female, are welcome to attend.
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