Thirteen-year-old local Jess Ashcroft has been presented with her first degree black belt after her annual Kumiai-Ryu grading.
Jess has been training in the Kumiai Ryu martial arts system since she was five, along with brothers Mitchell and Daniel who have achieved their black belts.
Jess also had her sights on her black belt 12 months ago, but was held back by a broken wrist.
This year’s successful grading was achieved over an intense weekend, which started with a high-level demonstration of set kata (a system of individual training exercises or series of moves) incorporating board or tile breaks.
On the same weekend, Jess also had to complete a 6km run, knife defence and 40 two-minute sparring sessions.
She had to speak about her training history and write about the qualities a black belt should possess.
Jess, who has been a junior instructor for four years, says she continues to enjoy the fitness and friendships that martial arts training provides her with.
She trains two nights a week in senior and junior classes in Forbes, with Shidoshi Nathan Lynch or Shihan David Schulze. She also trains with her brothers.
She says the long journey from white belt to black belt requires hard training and listening to instruction.
Jess continues training this year and will be eligible for her certificate next year. She has to study and train for two years to qualify for her second degree black belt.
Jess’s next step is to compete at the system’s national competition in Cootamundra, in point (non-contact) sparring and team kata.
“Kumiai-Ryu is more than just karate, it is integrity, respect, pride, strength, discipline, determination, passion, leadership, confidence and honour,” she said in her essay for grading.
“Kumiai-Ryu has become a way of life for me and has taught me many lessons, my instructors and everyone who has helped me on my black belt journey have taught me a wealth of wisdom over the years.”