Sensei dispels myths around black belts

Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Fourth-dan sensei Daryl Gangell in a Wado Ryu stance on the Geraldton foreshore.
Camera IconFourth-dan sensei Daryl Gangell in a Wado Ryu stance on the Geraldton foreshore. Credit: Geraldton Guardian, Reuben Carder

A black belt makes you the ultimate warrior — so deadly, it’s illegal to go out in public without registering your hands as deadly weapons.

Worn by the martial arts hero, he or she becomes invincible and can defeat hordes of evil ninjas without a scratch. That’s the myth, anyway, fourth-dan Wado Ryu Karate sensei Daryl Gangell says.

“A black belt is just the start,” he said.

Gangell should know — about 30 black belts have come through the Wado Ryu system in the Mid West.

Another increasingly common myth is that traditional self-defence isn’t as effective as newer fighting styles like mixed martial arts, but Gangell said it still had a place in self-defence and the competitive environment.

“MMA is coming into world renown, but the feeder into that is from other martial arts,” he said.

“They just don’t walk into MMA.

“They’ve come from other backgrounds.”

He cited former UFC Bantamweight Champion Rhonda Rousey, who lost her title in a shock upset to Holly Holm in 2015.

“She (Rousey) is a grappler,” Gangell said. “She was defeated by a boxer.”

Using traditional martial arts in a competition environment with strict rules on contact is also different from a potentially life-threatening real situation.

Then, all bets were off and a trained practitioner could effectively defend themselves, he said.

Gangell said his experience in karate helped him achieve “light-bulb moments” at seminars and watching senior practitioners.

“It’s the things that you need understanding to understand,” he said.

One that stood out was realising Wado Ryu — soft fighting — was about using no muscle in techniques, he said.

Gangell has travelled the world with karate and is heading to the UK soon. Black belts could achieve higher dan — ranks — and also give back to the martial arts community, he said.

Karate will be included as an Olympic sport next year in the Tokyo Games, but will be left out for France 2024.

He said despite a lack of support from the Olympics, it remained more popular worldwide than either judo or taekwondo.

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