Black belt No 2 for 12-year-old prodigy

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She is thought to be the youngest person in New Zealand to hold two junior black belts in karate at the same time.

Samantha Marsh (12), of Tapanui, is making waves in the karate scene after receiving her black belt in Goju Ryu karate in Dunedin at the weekend.

The young prodigy spent three days completing an “intense training regime” and a written test on the history of the sport.

“We trained for two hours, then I completed a theory test, which was followed by more training with basic kicks and punches.”

“We then did katas [movements put into sequence], fighting, and then it was more push-ups and sit-ups,” Samantha said.

She was the youngest person to receive her black belt at the weekend; the next youngest was 18.

“It’s been a goal of mine since I was little to get my black belt.”

She received her black belt in Karate Do in New Plymouth last year aged 11.

Samantha said there was no real difference in the two styles of karate, it was just that karate was run through two different organisations in New Zealand.

Her second black belt meant more to her than her first, she said.

“I’ve been training for this black belt for eight years – I was finally at the age where I qualify to be graded for it,” she said.

“After waiting so long, this one means more to me.”

When she turned 18, she would need to resit her black belts at a senior level and then wait four more years to move on to the next style, she said.

Samantha trains at the West Otago Karate Club and her sensei, Gabriel Phillips, said he was proud of her latest achievement.

“She’s an absolute legend – she’s going to make history that girl.”

The pair had been training together for about eight years and they had her training down to a fine art.

“We’re quite strict – she works very hard.”

Samantha said she took up karate when she was 4 as a result of having been dragged along to her brother’s training in Tapanui

“We all had to go to his trainings.”

“I used to do the moves off to the side of their trainings, watching my brother, and when I turned 4, sensei Gabriel said ‘you can finally join in’.”

She credited Phillips with her success.

“He’s helped me improve so much.”

She had recently taken up tournament karate and travelled to Dunedin every weekend to train for it.

“I just love karate so much – I want to compete at nationals in the future.”