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Busy modern-day Britain
is full of families trying to find time for each other.
But could sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience
solve their problems?
Four families went to Japan to be immersed in the ancient culture,
and learn karate -
a traditional martial art that teaches discipline and respect.
But will the intense training regime bring them closer together...
-This is one of the first things I've done with my dad.
-I love my Dad!
-He's everything you could want from a kid.
-..or will the challenges
-force them apart?
-You must communicate.
You always go on about it.
She has to act like a grown-up.
Can this unique experience give them the fighting spirit they need
to earn a place at the World Karate Tournament...
-He'll be upset if we don't.
-..and improve the relationship?
This is gonna be tough.
It's the day of the World Karate Tournament, and some of the group
are up early for a swim.
-Since the four families arrived in Japan
less than three weeks ago, they've had many ups and downs.
The families have travelled to the mystical island of Okinawa,
the birthplace of karate,
for an intensive crash course in the martial art,
taught by world-renowned Grand Master Higaonna,
and teachers Brent and Kuramoto.
The aim was to get the families good enough to get their yellow belt -
an achievement that would usually take months - so they could perform
at the World Karate Tournament.
We're desperate to go to the Championships after so much pain!
But at the belt grading, it was clear the parents were nowhere near
as good as their kids. All four children were given belts,
but of the adults, only Joe made the grade.
That means only five of the eight will perform -
Jedd, Chloe, Mikey, Phoebe and Phoebe's dad, Joe.
For the first time in weeks, there's no early-morning training
for the families. Instead, they get the morning off to prepare
for the World Tournament.
They won't be performing for a few hours yet, but Jedd
is starting to have doubts.
-What are you thinking?
-It's gonna be scary.
No, nothing to be scared of. I think you'll be good.
That's right, Paul, there's nothing to be scared of.
Unless you count the fact they're competing
at the biggest traditional karate competition in the world,
lining up alongside 6,000 kids and adults from 43 different countries,
performing in front of a huge audience, and coming face-to-face
with some of the most skilled karate experts on the planet.
Let's not forget that a couple of weeks ago, they knew
absolutely nothing about karate.
Good luck to them, especially Jedd.
-Are you nervous?
-A little bit.
I'm scared too, cos I don't know what to expect.
Go out there and do your best. The nerves will go away.
Jedd has always admired his tough dad, who regularly boxes
with his elder brothers.
My dad don't give up, he keeps it together, works hard. A fighter.
But at the belt grading, Paul failed to get his yellow belt,
which shocked the group.
Practising, I knew it off by heart. I froze a bit. Don't know why.
When my dad didn't get his yellow belt, I felt really upset,
and that he'd let me down.
Jedd came to Japan to bond with his dad so performing without him
is the worst possible outcome.
He'll be there but in a seat, he won't be next to me.
That makes it all different.
It's lovely that he thinks of me, but he's come all the way now,
so he's got to do it on his own.
So, will he, or won't he?
Sit on the coach, we'll have a talk to you, try and relax you,
and get out there and do your thing.
-You can entertain. You like entertaining.
That'd be good, yeah?
With Jedd on board, the Grand Master wants to teach the family something
that will help them focus on their performance.
There's a breathing technique called sanchin, and it's scary to watch.
The idea is to empty all the old air
from your lungs, and bring in new air, focusing the mind,
and giving you courage.
Experts use this technique to achieve the seemingly impossible.
It has taken the Grand Master years to perfect this technique,
and if the families learn it, he is certain it helps calm their nerves.
TRANSLATOR: In everyday life, you can use this.
If you have worries, use this breathing, get rid of your worries.
Now it's the families' turn to give it a go.
As usual, their version isn't quite the same as the Grand Master's.
It's not even close.
Rather than them bringing new air in,
Mark just looks like he let one go.
< Control your throat, don't use your mouth.
It's a shame the families haven't quite grasped it.
They will have to rely on something else if they want to take
the audiences' breath away.
Now the yellow belts must get ready.
This is it, now! 6,200 performing,
no pressure, though, eh?
You're going to do brilliant. I'll be there for moral support.
-How you feel about today, then?
-Not really worried.
-Phoebe and dad Joe
are the only family pair who qualified.
-Did you think we'd ever get to this stage?
-No, probably not!
I just thought it was a long road ahead,
and somehow, we're near the end of it now.
The duo have been on a rocky journey.
She's talking to me like a piece of poo, and I'm not having it!
-Joe never thought he'd get his belt.
-I think I'm the worst of everyone.
But at the grading he pulled something special out of the bag.
And as the only adult to make it through, he's the driving force
-amongst the yellow belts.
-Are you ready?
-Do it with passion,
-and feeling. Are you READY?!
HAI! That's how you should do it.
This is the routine that the group will perform.
It's a complicated sequence of moves called a kata.
The chosen five will have to do this in front of thousands of spectators
and the world's media, but that's not all.
They will be expected to do it in perfect time with each other,
and 800 black belts.
Now, THAT's pressure.
The family have arrived at the arena that hosts the World Tournament.
Gaining yellow belts in just three weeks is an amazing achievement.
Being amongst the best in the world is a whole different experience.
47-year-old Joe can't help feeling a bit silly.
It's very humbling to be a yellow belt, when you see tiny little kids
who are also yellow belts, as well as our troupe,
and you do feel a bit like a freak.
Because I am the only adult here with just a yellow belt!
Thought we were better off with a white one, you know?
I am literally the joker right here and now.
But despite Joe's pre-match entertainment,
yesterday's tough belt grading is still weighing on everyone's minds.
Chloe has always been the best at karate.
But her mum is pretty shocking.
And Chloe hasn't really helped her.
I'm not doing it for Mum, cos I will get through anyway.
And at the grading, the Senseis had some tough words for Chloe.
-Your spirit is weak.
-If the Sensei had not said I had a weak spirit,
and maybe put it in a nicer way, I'd have felt more confident,
like I wouldn't have been knocked down, and I haven't got over that,
it still upsets me a lot, maybe I'd have carried on karate but
I think it's not for me any more.
But now is not the time to give up,
as the group must join the other performers for their warm-up.
-It's Karate World, here!
While the five yellow belts prepare, the parents who didn't make it
are having a more relaxing time,
and Sandra is confident that her daughter won't let the side down.
The Sensei's comments did knock her, and it really hurt her,
but I think once Chloe gets out there, the professional
performing part in her will come out.
CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUDS
Inside the stadium, the opening ceremony has begun.
And karate experts from all over the world are gathering.
This is a really big deal! I didn't expect this! I really didn't.
I couldn't imagine this...
I am from India.
We are from Serbia.
'The United States of America!'
-We're from New Mexico, United States.
-It's a very great honour.
Our performers aren't representing a country, so they get to chill out.
Well, that's what they think.
Kuramoto Sensei has arranged a surprise for the kids
to join the Okinawan under-16s in one of the opening displays.
Which means learning some extra moves very quickly.
I'm a bit confused about what we've got to do.
Memorising these baffling new moves on top of the routine they rehearsed
is the last thing the kids need.
It's different - he's teaching us
differently to what Grand Master taught us. To go quickly, and all!
Inside the arena, the parents are wondering what the kids are up to.
Probably enjoying themselves. Ain't seen this yet, so...
-I'd hate for them to start being a bag of nerves now.
Don't worry, the boys are happily mingling with the Okinawan kids,
and wowing them with the Japanese they've learned.
HE SPEAKS IN JAPANESE
Jedd and Mikey have had to deal with the fact their dads didn't qualify
for the tournament, something they are both disappointed about.
I wish I was with my dad, cos if I was with him and performing,
I'd be less nervous, and a bit more confident.
Mikey has always questioned his dad's lack of commitment.
-To be more passionate!
-He needs to double his effort.
He's not trying 100%,
-and I need him to try 100%.
-But over the last few days,
he was impressed with the effort his dad started to make.
Woke up last night thinking about the kata, going through my head.
And at the belt grading, he finally showed some passion.
Good to see I was going for it, as I did really try yesterday.
He was really upset for me. He even gave me a kiss last night.
Don't think we've ever done that before.
We've got into hugging and bonding, it's fantastic.
It's really brought out a different side of both of us.
But there's no time for hugging now,
as the kids need to get ready for the opening ceremony.
Phoe... She's seen me.
Yes, Sandra, she can see you.
-'And everyone in the stadium can hear you.'
The only English kids amongst the whole lot, it looks like.
Incredible, seeing them there. Amazing.
These children have been doing it for ages. It's brilliant.
INSTRUCTOR SHOUTS IN JAPANESE
Will they fit in when they've just been shown the moves?
The Grand Master is watching.
SENSEI CALLS, CHILDREN RESPOND
It was a shaky start, but they're now looking the part.
DRUMBEAT AND CALLS FINISH
Very good. Strong spirit.
They survived the first test, but that was just the opening ceremony.
Performing with the adult black belts will be in a different league.
That was fun!
It was different, and it felt like we were all connected.
Now you're doing the kata with the adults.
Three weeks ago, four families came to Japan to gain their yellow belt.
Their aim was to perform at the World Karate Tournament.
There's been blood... Well, kind of.
A lot of sweat...
and even some tears.
But five of the group proved good enough to be awarded the belt.
This is what they've been training for.
They are going to perform a kata routine
with the best black belts on the planet.
Rather them than me, if I'm honest.
TRANSLATION: In karate, you battle not an opponent, but yourself.
Never give up on yourself.
Our families have struggled to get their yellow belt.
But that is only the first grade in karate.
Now they'll perform the kata routine
alongside the finest black belts - the highest grade.
They have a lot to live up to.
Just allowing them to perform with experts
is a big deal for the Grand Master.
His reputation is on the line.
The group have just 20 minutes to brush up on their routine.
Every black belt in the room is watching.
-It's so intimidating, isn't it?
-It's very, very big.
No extra move.
With only minutes to go, the Grand Master is satisfied they are ready.
If you do a mistake, doesn't care. Just continue.
Try your best. Good luck.
Time to show their routine to the world.
It's a great opportunity I'll never get again.
I'll be cheering everyone else on. They'll be cheering us on, too.
I want to make Sensei proud, so I won't mess up!
I'm going to make my dad proud, Sensei proud.
Going to make everyone at home proud.
I'm proud of them.
Better than me. Fresher.
I just want to see them out there now. I'm getting a bit more nervous.
Hopefully, I won't dishonour him. I hope to put on a good performance.
Come on! Go.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
-There they are! Over there, look.
-Oh, yeah, yeah!
-At the back.
-I see Chloe. I see Phoebe.
They've got their hands down, good.
Oh, look at that - sharp! Look at them!
Yeah. They look good, they look good.
-Oh, this is brilliant. They're making the cup of tea.
Look at Joe!
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
But one important question remains. Is the Grand Master happy?
It looks like the answer is "Hai".
Oh, you are bigger!
ALL TALK AT ONCE
-Did you love it, babe?
-You really did well, honestly.
You did so well.
-She did well.
You was dead right. Bang, bang, bang, every one.
I very proud of them. Very proud.
And you deserved to be there.
You really deserved to be there.
Really proud. Really, really proud of you.
ALL: Hai! Karate!
So of the eight that arrived in Japan three weeks ago,
five became good enough to perform at the highest level.
So that's the end of the story.
It IS the end, right?
The journey is not over yet.
Tomorrow, you face the most important challenge yet. The kata battle.
In your family pairs, you will perform the kata gekisai dai ichi
in unison, against the other families.
The final challenge will be a karate battle between the families
to see who has the strongest bond.
They will perform face-to-face in a knockout competition.
Only one pair will win.
You will be judged on your teamwork rather than individual abilities.
Not only did you come to learn karate,
you came to make your relationship stronger.
The winner will be the family pair
who have the strongest bonds and fighting spirit.
Parents, let's see if you can rise to the occasion.
Don't let your children down again.
Let's go training. Go.
Just moments ago,
the families were unified as one team.
Now, they're pitched against each other in a knockout karate battle.
Now they're such good friends.
So you'd expect them to play down their chances.
-We're going to win!
-We're going to win!
-Everyone shut up - WE'RE going to...
-No, WE'RE going to!
-We'll just see what happens.
-We've got to be focused, that's all.
-In the zone!
-This one's going to be a really tight battle.
-In the zone.
One person who isn't taking part in the banter is Chloe.
After Sensei's words at the belt grading,
she'd rather give up than be tested again.
I am going to lose, cos I ain't got no spirit.
I've got a weak spirit, so he said,
you will be tested on if you as a family pair can prove it.
Just do what you can do, and that's it.
Chloe has taken Sensei's words personally.
Maybe Brent can explain why he made the negative comments.
The grading is not just about what happened in the grading.
It's about the whole journey we've been on.
It just sounds like I'm not really into it.
I tried my best and it wasn't good enough.
But he was criticising her for giving up on her mum.
I've seen your mum practising while you were laying there.
You could have helped more. You've got it, but your mum hasn't yet.
-That's a sign of a weak spirit.
-It's hard teaching your mum. I can...
Exactly. That's a weak spirit. this is what the whole meaning of it is.
Take this on board, make yourself a better person.
It's not a negative thing.
-It's a good thing that you can use for life.
-Have a look inside.
It's hard. OK, I'll help my mum, I'll be strong and help my mum.
And your spirit gets strong.
Brent's words have had an effect.
It looks like Chloe is up for the challenge.
We're going to train hard,
keep our spirits strong
and just...just do our best in the challenge tomorrow.
The pairs have 24 hours to work on their routine
and show the Grand Master who has the closest relationship.
As they sit down for a meal, the fighting talk begins.
Oh, yeah, friendship - that goes out of the window, when it's competition.
In terms of bonding no-one can beat Paul and Jedd. No-one.
I think...we haven't won a challenge yet.
I've let him down every time so far. The others might up their game.
Naturally, we've got the best relationship.
That'll shine out tomorrow.
We know that Chloe's got a competitive streak.
She would like to win and be at the top.
I just want to get through it!
Be great to win. I'll say I really want it - why not?
The plan is to get into unison so it looks smooth between us.
If we don't argue, I think we've got every chance of bagging this one.
Next time on Hai! Karate - Journey To Japan.
There's tension as the group prepare for the kata battle.
Time to find out who's the best team and who has the strongest bond.
Only one family will be victorious.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd