Barry Govan celebrates new high in incredible karate trip | The mail

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At 77, Ballarat Karate Club founder Barry Govan pulled a bunny out of his hat and successfully completed his sixth dan. Govan, who spent his professional life as a magician, has been one of the key players in the sport in this city and in his 56th year he has now been awarded the prestigious sixth Dan title. To meet his demands, Govan had to perform two tests that were conducted over a series of weeks, the most recent having taken place earlier this month. The first was a demonstration of the full program up to the Sixth Dan included in Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito’s Fighting Art – Australia. This was done under the watchful eye of 9th Black Belt Dan Hanshi Barry Packham and 7th Degree Black Belt and Chief Instructor Kyoshi Wayne Reddrop. As a result of this exam, Govan completed the required test kata followed by 11 combat sequences that were developed from his extensive hand-to-hand combat and security work over several decades. Govan said that while the tests weren’t physically taxing, learning so many requirements was a big test of memory. “Each Kata contains 30-35 movements, so it’s more a matter of memory than a physical thing,” he said. It has been an amazing year for Govan, who was one of eight people to start the Ballarat Karate Club in 1965. “I did judo for five years before opening here,” he said. “We opened with eight people and seven of us are still in training.” Govan also created the Shin Shi No Kai (Old Warriors) group with fellow instructor Renshi Gary Robinson. Both were instrumental in shaping the club’s extensive unarmed combat course based on decades of practice and teaching in the fighting arts, incorporating judo and boxing in which they both excelled. Although it took Govan 56 years to reach his Sixth Dan, he takes pride in the fact that many of those he has taught over the years have reached the mark sooner. “If the student becomes better than the teacher, then the teacher has done a great job,” he said. “The last two years I’ve been working to get to the next level, confinement has prolonged things a bit.” Govan said he was happy to finish in Sixth Dan but would continue to train. “It will take still at least five years before I can attempt a seventh Dan, so who knows where it will be until then, “he said.


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