Fall 2013 Black Belt Promotions

Fall 2013 BB_014

(l-r): Sensei Jill Chastenay, Sempai Cathryn Gallione, Tim Cunningham, Shidoin John Cunningham, Isaiah Stephens.

Rising Sun Martial Arts in Newport, NH, held their semi-annual Black Belt promotion ceremony on Saturday, October 12, 2013.  This followed an intensive examination on Saturday, October 5th.  Six individuals from Claremont, Newport and New London were awarded degrees of Black Belt or teaching grades.

Those honored included the following:

  • Jill Chastenay – Sandan (Third Degree Black Belt) & Sensei (Licensed Instructor)
  • John Cunningham – Joshu-Yonban (Fourth Degree Junior Black Belt) & Shidoin (Apprentice Instructor)
  • Timothy Cunningham – Joshu-Yonban (Fourth Degree Junior Black Belt)
  • Isaiah Stephens – Joshu-Shoban (First Degree Junior Black Belt)
  • Cathryn Gallione – Sempai (Assistant Instructor)
  • John Hall – Shidoin (Apprentice Instructor)

According to school director, Brent Baker, these are significant accomplishments that were years in the making.  “It takes a minimum of three years to make a [First Degree] Junior Black Belt, four years for a fully licensed adult Black Belt.  And these belts are not gifts.  They don’t get them just for showing up to class; they work hard to earn them.  To see people reaching adult Third Degree and Junior Fourth Degree Black Belts says something about their level of commitment and dedication.”

This event was significant for the school, as well.  “I have taught karate for a little over twenty-four years now,” said Baker.  “Jill is only my third student to earn the title of Sensei, and she’s my fourth Sandan.”  And only two of his students, aside from the Cunningham brothers, have reached the level of Junior Fourth Degree Black Belt.  The small numbers are not unusual – statistically, only a small number of those who join a karate school stick with it long enough to earn their Black Belts.  And the higher the standards are, the lower these numbers tend to be.

Baker is quite proud of his students.  “They are quality people.  Their positive attitudes and great work ethics have served them well both in the dojo and in their lives outside the dojo walls.”


Media Link: Article in the New England Flame