What makes a 7th Dan?

August 2016

In March this year, Tukido’s Founder and Chief Examiner, Grandmaster Teh, was extremely pleased to announce the promotion of Master William Davie to Black Belt 7th Dan. Teh’s Institute of Tukido has now been established for over thirty years, and Master Davie is only the second member in its history to have been accorded this honour, the first being Master Lee. Promotion to 7th Dan is a rare honour and reflects the extremely high level of contribution made to the organisation by both Master Lee and Master Davie. Many of these contributions may have gone unnoticed by Coloured and Black Belt students training hard every week in Tukido classes. However, there are many, often complex processes which happen in the background which allow Tukido as an organisation to function, and thus to provide students with the highest level of quality possible, whether that be in weekly classes, seminars, gradings, competitions, international training courses or summer camps. The award of 7th Dan reflects not only involvement in the front line of coaching, umpiring and examining, but also years of diligence and energy being placed into the many aforementioned tasks being conducted in the background. Thus, for those newer members, who may currently be asking themselves the question “Why has an Instructor whom I’ve never met been awarded such an honour?”, keep reading and you will soon understand why.

Master Davie joined Tukido in late August 1984, training at the Kingspark, Glasgow and Gourock clubs. Immediately displaying a passion and dedication to Tukido, he quickly progressed through the ranks to achieve Red Belt Black Tags at the beginning of 1986. On that occasion, he obtained an ‘A’ pass meaning he could sit his Black Belt grading after 3 months, rather than the normal time period of 6 months. Receiving an ‘A’ pass when attempting the grade of Red Belt Black Tags was then, and still remains, a very unusual achievement due to the high level of performance it requires in a range of Tukido skills. Following this success, Master Davie continued to show a tireless dedication to training, and three months later, passed his 1st Dan Black Belt grading with flying colours. Thus, his journey from first stepping into a Tukido class to achieving his 1st Dan was completed in the record time of only 21 months.

However, this did not satiate Master Davie’s hunger for Tukido challenges. After obtaining his Black Belt he applied to become an Instructor, and started his role as a trainee Instructors at Glasgow City Halls under Mr Leong Teh, honing the skills he was learning from Mr Teh by performing duties as an assistant coach at the Livingston and Coatbridge clubs. It did not take Master Davie long to successfully face all the challenges presented by the Instructors’ Training Course Examinations, and he successfully earned his Instructor’s certification in 1988. From there, Master Davie moved onto the various other targets in his sights, and within only a few years, achieved the grades of 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dan successively with his by now customary aplomb, as well as completed the stringent training and tests required to qualify as an official Teh’s Institute of Tukido Examiner. It is worth noting that during this time Master Davie was running his own Tukido clubs, as well as coaching at a variety of others around Scotland, including sometimes covering classes for Grandmaster Teh when he was travelling internationally. In addition, he was raising a young family and working full time in a job which often involved very long hours. It was often the norm for Master Davie to arrive bursting with energy to teach or train directly after having just finished a ten or twelve hour shift. Thus, his continual, extremely well earned grading achievements are even more impressive.

Tukido seminar

Pick a Tukido event from 1984 to 2008. Look at some of the photos. Chances are Master Davie will be there. In this case a seminar held by Grandmaster Teh in Crammond. Master Davie sitting on far right.

By the mid-1990’s, Master Davie was one of the key figures in British Tukido, so much so, that he was given the rare honour of being ‘sparred with’ by Grandmaster Teh during the filming of the BBC’s ‘My Britain’ television documentary.

The phrase ‘sparred with’ being used here, since even a 4th Dan with a wealth of championship medals and a meteoric rise through the ranks of Tukido was still left overwhelmed when faced with attempting to touch gloves with Tukido’s Grandmaster. This was the same year as the very first International Tukido Tournament, for which a team of UK students were selected to travel to Malaysia to take on the best of Malaysian Tukido. As always, Master Davie was at the fore and was a key player in the overall success of the event.

Pick a Tukido event from the 1990’s and early 2000’s and the chances are Master Davie will have been in attendance. Visit a Scottish Tukido club during that time, and the chances that Master Davie will have trained or taught there at some point. In fact, look at any set of photos from Tukido events during that period and the chances are you’ll see Master Davie posing with his usual happy grin in at least one of them.

Training at Tukido Camp

Cambeltown era Camp Tukido. Grandmaster Teh standing tall on his bespoke platform in spite of the chilly overcast day. Master Davie, back row, second from right, following Grandmaster’s lead.

However, behind each smile in each photo, there was often large amounts of hard work being done and unseen by the majority of Tukido students. For example, for many of the British Tukido Championships, Master Davie was in charge of collating all the application forms, developing competitor lists, designing seeding tables, and creating score charts. An extremely time consuming and complex series of tasks with strict attention to detail required. He was also often tasked with ensuring a qualified first-aider was present during the event, as well as being responsible for ensuring the less-senior Instructors were all fulfilling their various duties on the day, be that setting up the hall, sorting out the medals, bringing in the all the power test materials, or sorting out the various documents which had been prepared. Another example would the Tukido Summer Camps which were at that time held annually on a remote area of the Scottish coastline near Cambeltown. Anyone who had the good fortune to attend one or more of these week

long camps will remember seeing Grandmaster Teh upon his custom built platform, bursting with energy and vigour, taking the students through their paces whether he was being scorched by the sun or pelted with horizontal icy- cold rain. Less of the attendees may remember that Grandmaster Teh’s platform was built for him by Master Davie. Even fewer are likely to know that Master Davie would actually take a truck up to Campbeltown a week prior to Camp to drop off the sections of the platform, and then, one week after the Camp make the trip up again to bring the sections back to Glasgow, since it was impossible for him to keep the truck there for the duration of each Camp. Glasgow to Cambeltown is a minimum six hour round trip each time, not to mention the time and effort required to load and unload large amounts of cumbersome scaffolding material.

Our organisation is extremely blessed in that its Chief Instructor and Founder, Grandmaster Teh, is so visibly active in coaching, examining and umpiring. This is an extremely rare occurrence in the world of martial arts, and it means that almost all Tukido students, either Malaysian or British, will at some point have had, or will have, the honour of training or grading under Grandmaster Teh and being infected by his endless positive energy and dynamic spirit. Master Davie has clearly attempted to emulate this spirit, and has provided positive encouragement to a countless number of Tukido students, be they Yellow Belts still scared of their own shadows, or students aiming for their 3rd Dan certificates. The influence has not stopped with students, and Master Davie has frequently been a source of sound, patient and positive advice when fresh trainee Instructors or Instructors of decades experience have had questions or concerns. Even when some of these questions have come via sudden phone calls late at night!

Master Davie referees sparring

Master Davie in action as a referee at one of the International Tukido Tournaments in Malaysia.

By the late 1990’s, Master Davie’s career was taking him further afield, at one point seeing him stationed in northern England. However, this did not reduce his involvement in Tukido, still travelling up to: act as Examiner at gradings in Grandmaster Teh’s absence; help organise championships; or even on occasion, suddenly appear in Glasgow mid-week after having made a three hour drive up, in order to attend classes under Grandmaster Teh.

By the early 2000’s, his job had brought Master Davie, by now 5th Dan Black Belt, back to Scotland again, although still requiring him to frequently travel to east, south, west and north of the country. Almost immediately on his return he resumed his previous routine of teaching and training in a variety of the Scottish clubs, proving one of the main pillars in Scottish Tukido. At this time, a club was running in Ireland and Master Davie would even make trips over there to act as Examiner at gradings and to take classes. He continued to prove a positive force among Instructors and students alike and a cornerstone in the planning and organisation of Tukido events. In addition to this, he also took an increasing level of responsibility during Grandmaster Teh’s then frequent extended absences from the UK. This level of diligence and contribution did not go unnoticed, and it is during this time Grandmaster Teh decided that Master Davie had earned the title of “Master”, his 6th Dan certificate (at that time, only the second ever to have been awarded, and up until now only the second of three in total), and his accompanying black shoulders.

Tukido Camp fun

During the Cambeltown era Camps, Master Davie, front left, was always good at lifting people’s spirits. You had to be careful though, as he also had a tendency to lift students for a nice cold bath in the sea.

In 2009, Master Davie’s career developed again, this time taking him to Dubai where he continues to live and work. Since his move to Dubai, he has continued to practise Tukido regularly and has maintained constant communications with Grandmaster Teh, being constantly involved in discussions and plans regarding Tukido. In addition, during his return visits to the UK, whenever possible, he will participate in classes under Grandmaster Teh, assist with the training of Instructors at Umpire Training Courses, attend gradings or help with the organisation and running of the British Championships; his dedication and enthusiasm never waning.

Hopefully it should now be clear that achieving the grade of 7th Dan in Tukido requires a huge level of commitment and an immense contribution to the organisation, both of which Master Davie has over his thirty years membership clearly demonstrated via his assiduous hard work and tireless reflection and promotion of the spirit of Tukido.

Many congratulations to you Master Davie from all the Tukido members!!!

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