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Jamaican Seido veteran gets sixth degree black belt
VETERAN JAMAICA martial artist George McFarlane was recently promoted to sixth degree black belt during grading in New York by Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, a Seido Karate master.
McFarlane, a lean and muscular 54-year-old, is based in Mandeville, Manchester, and is also the father of defending Seido grand champion, Bruce McFarlane.
Close to being a senior citizen, McFarlane's physical condition belies his age, which undoubtedly played a role in him getting past the rigorous grading, which elevated him to sixth degree, which only one other Jamaican, Tony Robinson, holds in the Seido art.
However, McFarlane, who owns and operates a gym in Mandeville, said physical attributes were only a part of the big test.
Whole lot more
"It's a whole lot more than that," he told The Sunday Gleaner. "First, you have to stay the course of time in training and second, be able to master the basic principles of the art and at the same time understand the spiritual path the principles offer," McFarlane said.
"In our system, it takes a while to be promoted. You don't just get there. I have been training for more than 30 years. That speaks for itself having gone through intense training and fighting at tournaments. However, upon reaching this point in karate, we are expected to start looking deeper in ourselves to understand the fundamental disciplines."
The sixth degree, whose title is now Jun Shihan, said there is a lot more to karate than kicking and punching.
"How you carry yourself, present yourself to the people you teach. You have to constantly check yourself to ensure you hold up to the ideals expected of an individual at this level," he said.
Become better person "The average person would not understand, expecting its all about kicking and breaking bricks. In Seido, what the masters embed in us is to be a far better person, take that and become the best.
"It's not to use karate to hurt people, but lift them, make them a better person. That, to me is more important than how high you can kick. If a person learns how to think calmly, they will become smarter and learn faster," McFarlane pointed out.
The Seido expert spent two weeks in New York undergoing mental and physical tests.
"The final day of grading took the cake," he said. "We started from three in the evening and went until two in the night. We had an hour and a half to rest and were back on our feet until the following day.
"We did a lot of katas, punching and kicks, but we were also tested mentally, doing most of the things with our eyes closed," he explained.