Seven Newport karate students celebrate black belt gradings while 'selfless, humble' sensei is given cash present

Seven karate students celebrated black belt gradings and their dedicated sensei was thanked for his hard work throughout the lockdown with a cash gift from his students.

The students at Newport-based Farmhouse Shotokan Karate Club (FHSKC) have benefited from a swift move to online classes during the coronavirus crisis.

Student Marie Shoulder said: "2020 has been a difficult year for all, but back in March, when the country went into lockdown, Sensei Wayne Butler 6th Dan instantly moved all FHSKC classes online.

"There was no break in training and the consistency helped tens of students, especially through the spring when face-to-face contact with friends and loved ones was so limited. A club WhatsApp group was created which helped keep the sense of community and the day to day chat which we all missed.

"It was also a great forum for regular instructional videos. Sensei Wayne ran three lessons every week on Zoom, until the rules relaxed.

"FHSKC is now back training at Moreton Millennium Community Centre in a Covid-secure environment, with only one class per week now still on Zoom.

"The immense support given by Sensei Wayne, who worked full time running his own business as a mechanic throughout the pandemic, was such that students rallied round and raised over £500 as a surprise thank you gift to him, not least for not charging a single penny for any of the Zoom classes he taught.

"In his true form, Sensei Wayne found a way to spend the money on the club, investing in his students.

"Despite the tremendous difficulties, the students still trained incredibly hard. Last weekend FHSKC held a special weekend course and black belt grading.

"Sensei Wayne ensured that this was Covid-safe, with full social distancing in place (except for family bubbles who helped to demonstrate how karate would be done if we were not in a pandemic).

"At the end of the course, seven students passed a technical and physically demanding black belt grading in front of a panel of senior instructors."

From left to right, with certificates, are: David Fox, Kit Halligan, Andrew Mander, Rose-Marie Shoulder, John Powell, David Webb, Andrew Stokes, Wayne Butler and Ella Ratcliff

Those students who passed their black belt grading were Ella Ratcliff, aged 12, of Burton Borough School and awarded Cadet 1st Dan; David Fox, awarded 1st Dan; John Powell, awarded 2nd Dan; Andrew Mander, awarded 3rd Dan; Andrew Stokes, awarded 3rd Dan; David Webb, awarded 4th Dan; and Marie Shoulder, awarded 4th Dan.

Marie said: “I am forever grateful to Sensei Wayne for everything he does for the art of karate and for his students. He is selfless, humble and the pinnacle of what a great teacher should be.

"His consistency, encouragement and guidance throughout this difficult year has provided a tower of mental support, both for myself and for all of his students.

"The club is like a family to me, we all build each other up and support each other through times like this.

"I am so proud of Ella, Dave, John, Andrew, Andy and David who thoroughly deserved to pass. Hard work pays off!"

Learn more about the club at

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