Club trio gain black belts after arduous grading

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by Claire Allison

Three Kyokushin Karate Club members have gained their black belts after completing a gruelling six-hour grading in Auckland.

Bob Drummond and Amber Willis (16), from the Timaru club, and Liam Mackay (17), from the Fairlie club, were the only South Islanders among the 14 taking part in the national grading event, where they were put to the test for six hours with just one-minute water breaks.

The grading involved a written exam, a 3km run, stamina tests, demonstrating self-defence techniques and breaking blocks of wood.

After five and a-half hours, the three then had to spar against 20 fresh opponents, sometimes two at a time, leaving them bruised and physically and mentally exhausted.

They said they had completed various gradings before but none had been as involved or intense.

At 61, Drummond was the oldest to be attempting his black belt. He joined the Timaru club about five and a-half years ago with his son.

“He got his green belt and then pulled out, so I stayed on to show that you don’t just give up. And as you get older, it’s good to get into something that exercises your body and your mind,” Drummond said.

Much time was involved in preparing for the grading, and he would not have been able to achieve it without the support of his employer, Shore Construction.

Amber, a pupil at Mountainview High School, said her father already had a black belt in taekwondo.

The two joined Kyokushin Karate seven years ago, and her father planned to go for his black belt next year.

Liam is is in his final year at Mackenzie College, and will be heading to university in Canterbury next year.

“It was more of a confidence thing when I was younger, but it’s great for fitness as well,” he said.