Hard work pays off

Don’t mess with me: West Otago Karate Club’s three new black belts are, from left, Cherise...
Don’t mess with me: West Otago Karate Club’s three new black belts are, from left, Cherise Thomson (15), Megan Finlayson (14) and Sinead Cormack (12). Picture: Supplied
Tapanui and Blue Mountain College are definitely not places where you would be advised to pick on anyone, especially with the West Otago Karate Club having produced three black belts this year.

Club secretary Robbie Finlayson said three of the club's young girls had just completed their black-belt gradings.

Mrs Finlayson said if anyone wanted to know what it took to get a black belt in karate, they could ask Cherise Thomson (15), Megan Finlayson (14) and Sinead Cormack (12).

‘‘They will tell you it takes about seven years of training hard with Sensei Gabriel Phillips, 4th Dan,'' Mrs Finlayson said.

She said all three girls gained their 1st dan black belts last week at the Otago University Gym.

The panel of judges included Kazuo Terauchi, 8th Dan from Japan and a former bodyguard for Japanese Emperor Hirohito, and a 6th Dan and 5th Dan from the North Island.

‘‘There was a big build-up to the blackbelt grading, which involves a written and physical test.

‘‘They undertook extra training sessions with Sempai Jacob Finlayson, studied the history of Goju Ryu Karate and learnt Japanese terminology,'' Mrs Finlayson said.

She said the girls agreed it was ‘‘cool'' to have three from the dojo grade together, but it was still a bit nervewracking.

‘‘For Sinead, she was thrilled to be the fourth in her family to have a black belt. Cherise is the first in her family to get her black belt and Megan the second.''

Mrs Finlayson said the girls would continue with their karate training, ‘‘as you never stop learning''.

Fourteen students from the West Otago Karate Club have passed their black-belt grading over the past 11 years.

All have been or are pupils of Blue Mountain College.

There are six pupils with black belts attending the college at present.

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