2011 Black Belt Exams & Master Harrison Seminar

2011 Black Belt Exams & Master Harrison Seminar

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The weekend of November 19th-20th was one of the busiest yet for the instructors of Warrior Martial Arts, with a seminar and two sets of Black Belt examinations scheduled for the same weekend.¬†With Dan & Barry O’Mahony both required to officiate and work on the day of the regular annual Black Belt exams being held on the Sunday, it was decided that they would take their examinations, for 5th & 4th Dan respectively, on the Saturday instead, immediately prior to Master Harrison’s seminar.


Due to Master Harrison’s keen interest in history, Dan spent the morning with Master & Mrs Harrison, visiting sites of archaeological interest in the area. As always, Master Harrison was very eager to add to his already impressive knowledge on the subject and took a great interest in some of the Megalithic structures in West Cork. The afternoon consisted of Dan & Barry training with the visiting Master, getting some last-minute pointers on their techniques. Both instructors also had to write individual theses for this grade and submitted these documents to Master Harrison following the training session.


In front of a large crowd of spectators consisting of their own students, as well as friends and members of other martial arts clubs, father and son took to the floor in front of their Black Belt Examiner, Master Clive Harrison (7th Dan) at the Clonakilty club. Serving as Examination Assistant on the day was Mr. Dwayne Crowley (2nd Dan), who organised the official grading materials and communicated instructions on Master Harrison’s behalf, keeping the Examiner free to concentrate on the task at hand: assessing the standard of the two exam candidates.

The exam consisted of a variety of techniques performed in sequence along the floor, followed then by a series of 7 patterns at the Examiner’s request. Once these were complete, the pair progressed to demonstrate One Step Sparring and Self Defence techniques before then being asked to demonstrated techniques by means of destruction, ie. the breaking of timber boards. Both candidates performed breaks with Jumping Back Side Kicks, with Dan then opting for a Forefist Punch while Barry chose to break with a Ridge-hand Strike.

A brief reprieve from the gruelling test was then granted when the pair were dismissed from the floor to put on their safety gear for the final section of the exam. Once they had returned to the floor, Dan and Barry performed sets of Semi Free and Free Sparring before being instructed to demonstrate their fitness with a series of exercises. Exhausted, they were then dismissed from the floor by the Officials.

There was no time to relax, however, as the pair were immediately in action again, organising the students present into their lines to begin Master Harrison’s seminar. The Masterclass that the visiting 7th Dan presented covered a wide range of information, concerning the correct timing and focus of pattern techniques, as well as an in-depth exploration of certain aspects of the history and philosophy behind the patterns. The final section of the class was restricted to students of Red Belt and above and covered a number of suggestions for expanding the One Step Sparring syllabus and a very enjoyable session on Self Defence against a knife-wielding opponent.


Sunday morning meant an early start for a number of the students and instructors, as Master Harrison travelled to the Ballinhassig club to examine this year’s candidates for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dan. Following a similar format to their instructors’ exam the previous day, the eager group were put through their paces, demonstrating a wide range of techniques and a broad knowledge of their patterns. ¬†Particularly notable in this year’s exam was the extent to which the 2nd and 3rd Dan candidates were tested on their theory, with each student giving very detailed answers to the questions put to them, on topics ranging from the history of Tae Kwon Do and the meanings of the patterns, to the individual personal philosophy of the student with regard their understanding of the art as a means of self improvement. The depth of knowledge and understanding demonstrated by the students impressed the Officials greatly.

After hours of effort, anxiety and exhaustion, the exam finally came to a close with Master Harrison thanking the students for their outstanding efforts and their warm hospitality. The group then congregated for a photograph to mark the occasion before Master Harrison surprised Dan & Barry by announcing that they had passed their examination on the previous day.

The students departed shortly after Master Harrison, clearly more relaxed now that the exam was out of the way, but still eager to find out their results. Unfortunately for them, the suspense would last a while longer yet, as all of the marking sheets would have to be tallied and double-checked before any results could be released; more restless nights awaited!

Master and Mrs Harrison later travelled to Dan’s house where they met with the O’Mahonys, Dwayne Crowley (2nd Dan) and Claire Wilcox (2nd Dan) before later travelling on to view the beautiful Timoleague Abbey, another example of the rich history of the West Cork region.


Everyone at Warrior Martial Arts is very grateful to Master Harrison for all of his hard work and support, not only this year, but since we first got to know him. Our students and instructors alike have a great deal of respect and admiration for this man who lives and breathes his martial art.



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