On Saturday the 4th of December at the Dragons Lair dojo the Kilkenny Jiujitsu club held a grading for both junior and senior students. This was a special one for the club and a pivotal moment in its twenty-year history as a group of female students graded for brown and black belts. The grading was overseen by international instructor and head of the Jiujitsu International Federation, Hanshi Olu Bamgbose 9th dan Jiujitsu.
The club is known as a family club with lots of members being related, there are father/son, father/daughter training duos, and one special case of four sisters all training together. On the day of the grading the Brennan family from Clogh, Co. Kilkenny stepped onto the mat to grade for their respective belts. Anita and Danielle were first to begin training in the club many years ago and were ready to take on the challenge a black belt grading, they passed and were awarded their black belts. Their sister Emma graded for her green belt and youngest sister twelve-year-old Orlaith graded for her junior purple belt with both passing the test. On the day the youngest member of the family, five-year-old Jamie Brennan graded for his yellow tag belt and was excited to watch his mother Danielle grade for her black belt. The girls are avid jiujitsu enthusiasts and train up to three times a week. They bring a great energy to the class and often the ones to get the students pumped up for class. As is custom now that the girls have received their black belts, they have earned the title of Sensei and begin the next phase of the jiujitsu journey on becoming instructors.
The grading took six hours to complete with everyone getting their chance to shine and impress the judging panel. Along with the Brennan family on grading day Sensei Bonnie Fennelly earned her 3rd dan in Jiujitsu, she has also earned black belts in Taekwondo and Yamabushi Ryu Kenjustu (art of the Samurai sword). Bonnie has been a part of the club since she was a teenager, her goal was to learn self-defence which progressed to her starting the jiujitsu syllabus and grading for every belt in the book until she had completed it. Years later she is still to be found on the mat instructing and training with the students that pass through the doors. Two other teenage girls also graded on the day, Zoe and Guste progressed to brown belt level, and as mentioned before the club aims to have a family atmosphere with both girls having family members that train. Zoe and her father Martin are both brown belts, and Guste has two younger siblings that train in the kid’s class.
The club has gone out to teach self-defence in several schools in the city and county, the goal of these being to take care of oneself if a situation arises. There are also women’s self-defence classes held at the club for any lady who wishes to learn to protect and defend herself. The Dragon’s Lair is a not-for-profit club and all proceeds made go back into the club to buy equipment, recently the club received a sports grant award that will be used to buy new safety mats, equipment for the Kyujutsu club (Japanese archery), punch bags, and grappling dummies. The Kyujutsu club is part of the Dragons Lair and has a group of ladies that train regularly. Pre Covid, they had taken part in international competitions and won in their respective categories and hope to do so again in the future, senior brown belt Nicki Kenny is currently training for her black belt. Before Covid hit the club members travelled all throughout Europe to Jiujitsu and Kyujutsu seminars to enhance their training and learn new techniques that can be brought back and taught to the students. These trips were often full of eager students of all grades as the club has fostered good friendships with several clubs in Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, and Sweden.
The Dragons Lair Jiujitsu club has been running in Kilkenny for over twenty years under the watchful eye of Shihan Larry McEnroe 7th dan Jiujitsu instructor, 5th dan Kyujutsu instructor, and 1st dan Yamabushi Ryu Kenjutsu instructor. His achievements in the martial arts are many but his main goal is to teach people of all ages self-defence and Jiujitsu. The club has had thousands of students pass through the doors over the years with many earning various belts, however the coveted black belt requires a commitment that only very few are willing to make. Make no mistake getting a black belt in the Dragons Lair means that you have earned it as those who have done it all say it is one of the toughest physical days you will go through however the achievement of completing a dan grade and having the black belt put around your waist is a rare moment that only few will experience.
The Dragons Lair club is open to new members, classes run for adults on Monday and Wednesday from 8pm to 9.30pm and Friday 7pm to 8.30pm. The children’s classes are run on Monday and Wednesday from 7pm to 8pm and on Saturday morning from 10am to 11.30am. The Kyujutsu (Japanese archery) is on Monday 8pm to 9.30pm and Friday 7pm to 8.30pm. This is open to new members and is for anyone who would like to try a martial art but feel they wouldn’t be able to take a fully physical form of exercise. We have a full twenty-meter archery range and provide all equipment needed for class.
The club is run in accordance with the government guidelines on covid, so we do require masks to be worn within the club and proof of covid certificate is needed to train. If you would like to try something new for yourself or a family member please contact Larry McEnroe, head instructor at the Dragons Lair for more information on 087 246 5442.