A TRIO of youngsters from the Old Basing Karate Club have passed their black belt gradings.

Niaaz Hoque (14), Chris Cooper (11), and Eve Messenger (12) travelled to Hemel Hempstead to take part in their association’s December Black Belt grading.

The Old Basing Karate Club is part of Seishinkai Shotokan Karate International (SSKI), an association renowned for maintaining a very high standard to achieve a black belt pass.

There were 17 at the grading – a three-hour test – from SSKI clubs from across the country.

As progressing beginner to black belt requires a minimum of three and half years regular training, Hoque, Cooper and Messenger had to first demonstrate their mastery of basic techniques.

This was followed by an exam of seven Kata, which are set patterns of fighting movements that increase in complexity and difficulty.

With no errors, the three were next partnered up for semi-free sparring or Jiyu-Ippon, defending and attacking the head and body with sets of kicks, strikes and take downs.

The gruelling test concluded with a minute of full-on free style sparring against an opponent of their own grade.

Finally the three had an anxious wait while the examiners made their decisions as to who would or would not become black belts.

Sitting on the grading panel was 8th Dan Chief Instructor Sensei Malcolm Phipps and 6th Dan Assistant Chief Instructor Sensei Tony Bunting plus 4th Dan Chief Referee Sensei Jeff Carson.

The panel all agreed that the standard shown at this grading was the highest in the association’s history and highly commended those who took part.

It was a great relief of all three Old Basing club members when Sensei Phipps called out their names and they were thrilled to receive their Shodan certificates.

Old Basing Club Senior Instructor 4th Dan Peter Welch was extremely proud of his three students.

“Their hard work, dedication and commitment to regular training every week has led to this unprecedented 100 per cent pass,” he said.

The club trains at Old Basing Village Hall on Wednesdays and at Lychpit Community Hall every Monday and welcomes new members.

Anyone interested should contact Peter Welch on 07977 751473 or visit oldbasingkarate.com or sski.org