Gore Karate Club broke a 17-year drought recently.
Three club members received their black belts after years of training.
After training with the club’s head student Mark Payne, Reece Stephenson and Kingsley Sim were awarded their senior black belts, while John Steeghs (14) received his junior black belt.
This was the first time more than one person had received a black belt since 2000.
The belts were presented at the three-day grading event at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin after the trio completed challenging tests.
The black belts had to complete physical and theory tests.
Stephenson said it was tough.
“It’s physically and mentally challenging no matter what way you look at it really,” Stephenson said.
“It is hard to train for because you don’t know what we are going to be put through.”
Stephenson said he had been focusing on gaining his black belt for about a year, “but the six weeks leading up to the grading were pretty intense”.
Steeghs said he also found the lead-up tough.
“There is so much to learn and you have to train for everything because you have no idea what they will throw at you.”
“I think that is why it is so mentally draining but we are good, we got through it.”
Sim said all of the training paid off in the long run.
Head student Mark Payne said he was pretty stoked for his students.
“I am really happy for them. They were in top condition leading up to the grading.”
Payne said being in top condition meant being well versed in anything that could be thrown their way.
“They did a lot of training and showed a lot of commitment. It was thoroughly deserved.”