Local karate champion receives top recognition

2017-04-19 06:02
Sensei Clayton Thom was awarded the prestigious shihan title.      Photo:SUPPLIED

Sensei Clayton Thom was awarded the prestigious shihan title. Photo:SUPPLIED

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AN Eastern Cape sensei was awarded the prestigious shihan title, which is only bestowed to selected karateka who dedicate themselves to martial arts.

Clayton Thom formed part of a delegation who visited Japan for two weeks (March 28 to April 10), where he was awarded the shihan title. The delegation participated in intensive traditional training with the President of Goju-kai karate, Seiko Shihan Goshi Yamagutchi, and other senior members.

Thom is the first person from Eastern Province Goju-kai Karate to receive the title.

“Karate is not just a sport or art to most of its practitioners, it becomes a way of life. A karateka continues to strive towards improving physically, mentally, emotionally daily. The growth of oneself and realizing your full potential is always the objective. Although one does not practise the art for any form of recognition, to receive an accolade like this is an honour not bestowed on many,” said Thom.

He is the sensei at the Goju-kai karate dojo in Hillside, Port Elizabeth, and has trained in karate for 30 years. He holds the World Champion senior kumite in Goju-kai Karate (fighting) title in 2009. He currently has a 5th Dan in Goju-Kai karate. Thom is also the team coach for Karate South Africa as well as Eastern Cape Karate and a former team member of Karate South Africa.

“Potential candidates are recommended for the new ranking, which has to be agreed to by the majority vote by all shihan of the country of recommended candidates. The president then has the final decision,” explained Thom.

Some of the criteria to meet for the shihan title includes the minimum rank of 5th dan and effort put into growing and developing martial arts.

Thom was recommended based on all past efforts made, including his roles as Provincial head for Eastern Province Goju-kai, Provincial and South African team coach, among others.

As a sensei with over 100 students at the dojo, Thom said that he hoped his shihan title would encourage and motivate his students to continue with karate.

Thom took up an existing dojo in 2000 and although it is difficult to recall the number of students he trained, he can confirm that among his students 35 black belts were awarded (up to 4th dan), 15 Goju-kai world champions, 21 goju-kai world medallists, four commonwealth medallists, four zone six champions, 10 zone six medallist, one All-Africa games medallist and several Protea karate team representatives.

“I always tell my students that karate is about peace and not fighting. They come to learn about discipline, respect for themselves and others, personal growth physically, mentally and emotionally as well as pride and humility,” Thom concluded.

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