TWO members of Handbridge Shotokan Karate Club passed their black belt examinations with flying colours.
Instructor Mike O’Connor watched on with pride and delight as Dave Craggs and Laura Pelleymounter wowed Sensei Master Andy Sherry and Sensei Bob Poynton in their grading tests in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Dave, a computer consultant from Westminster Park, was the first to put his months of preparation to the test.
He gave an excellent performance demonstrating speed, power and fighting spirit to be rewarded with his first dan black belt - the gold standard among karate practitioners.
Dave, who joined the club last year after a 30-year break from the martial art, said: "I had worked hard over the year to prepare myself for the grading.
"Sensei O’Connor is a sixth dan with over 40 years of experience. The club also has regular visits from some of the top Masters from the KUGB, all of which ensured I was well prepared for the event.
"I have kept myself fit over the years playing squash and cycling, but at 55 I was getting more and more injuries, mostly from playing squash. Karate has been fantastic for improving my flexibility and strength and since I have started, I have had no more injuries, even playing squash.
"I am now looking forward to working toward my second dan."
Better was to come when Laura, a research scientist who moved to the North West from the Midlands earlier this year, achieved her second dan black belt with a strong and polished display.
Laura, who had been a first dan for six years, said: "The classes at Handbridge are at a very high level, focusing on technical excellence and fighting applications of karate techniques.
"Mike has great in-depth knowledge and his training sessions make karate come alive for karateka of all levels."
Handbridge Shotokan Karate Club, which is based at Queen’s Park High, has members aged from seven to 70 and is fully affiliated to the Karate Union of Great Britain.
For further information visit the website www.hskc.org.uk