Finlay Church Honorary Black Belt Award July 8th 2015

Finlay Church has undergone 2 Operations to remove a brain tumour and has been undergoing Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy treatment for the last 12 months, and is presently undergoing a total of 30 radiation treatments to stop the tumour growing. In this time Finlay and his family have committed themselves to raising awareness for Birmingham Children's Hospital and Brain Tumour Research raising a total of £31000 in total. Finlay is a Guinness book of Records World Record holder for the longest line of 15534 teddy bears. Finlay has received the chief Constables Young person award by the chief Constable of Birmingham Chris Simms. 
 
Due to Finlays ongoing treatment and the effect it has had on his mobility. After much discussion over the past couple of weeks with finlay's parents Penny and Wayne, Sensei Sakagami 8th Dan myself and Selina it was decided to award Finlay an honorary 1st and 2nd Dan black belt. 
In all of our history and Sensei Sakagami's 55 years history we have never awarded anyone an honorary Black belt award.
 
Before Finlay was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour it is obvious to everyone who knows Finlay that he is a special person, his maturity (Way beyond his years), his charm, wit, kindness and intelligence was apparent to everyone who has met him. I have seen Fin at several gradings and was struck by his spirit and how hard he works in class. 
 
I then recently met Fin at a 3 hour squad training session, whilst he was undergoing treatment for the tumour, he stood out for all of the right reasons i was amazed at how hard he trained with no complaining just trained hard for the whole session. It was decided that Sensei Sakagami, myself, Selina and Sensei Jags (Fins club instructor) would award Finlay his belts and certificates at his home with his mum, Dad, brother Kenzie and both sets of grandparents present, oh and the family dog who was very interested in proceedings. This was going to be a memorable and special day for Finlay his parents and grandparents and indeed all of us.
 
We arrived and Finlay was wearing his Karate suit and greeted us at the door, we left Sensei Sakagami in the car as Finlay didn't know he was coming, we introduced ourselves to the family, and after a few minutes told Finlay we had a VIP guest coming to award him his Dan gradings, as you can imagine Finlay was duly impressed and a little bit shy. Its not every day an 8th Dan Top Japanese instructor comes round the house for a talk and to award you your Dan gradings. Myself and Sakagami sat on the sofa whilst Finlay and his family proudly talked about all of their fundraising efforts and achievements. Sensei Sakagami talked about his early karate life in Japan, his teaching career and general Karate talk. There was plenty of laughter, especially when i gave Finlay a special present of a Birmingham City football scarf, he pretended he was thrilled, Who wouldn't be?
 
As Fin is so crazy about karate we got together Karate badges, pens, a scarf from Japan, a Karate coaching pass, things that an 11 year old would like for him to keep and help make it a memorable day for Fin and his family. Mr Sakagami gave a present of a Karate grading syllabus from his own association with the words written in Japanese "Big Hope and Strong Will" We all lined up to award Finlay his 1st and 2nd dan belts and certificates. 
 
Finlay accepted his awards watched by his family, he received his 1st dan and certificate, and was then awarded his 2nd dan with a personalised Black belt. The whole occasion was dignified, respectful, very emotional and was entirely appropriate for such a brave little boy and a fantastic, supportive family. 
 
We cant think of anyone who deserves these awards more than Finlay Church, he is an inspiring young man for the spirit he has shown over and over again in his training, his fundraising, his general demeanour and of course coping with the operations, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and ongoing treatments at Birmingham Childrens hospital. We witnessed today a family full of love, hope and belief that Finlay will come through this ordeal and go on to achieve his dreams. 
 
To see Finlays journey see his Facebook Page 
https://www.facebook.com/Finlaysjourney
 
Feel free to donate money to his chosen charities and help him achieve his goals of raising £50000
https://www.justgiving.com/teams/finlaysjourney
 
We are committed to running two Fund Raising events to support Finlays two chosen charities for the rest of our time teaching Karate so hopefully that will be the next 30 years if i can follow Sensei Sakagami's example. Photos of the days events can be seen on the kombatkids web site in the gallery section they are beautiful photos which really shows the incredible support that Finlay, Penny and Wayne receive from their family.
 
Steve/Selina/Jags/Sensei Sakagami 8th Dan
WKF English Karate Federation