A KARATE tutor had a shock when a former pupil flew back from San Francisco to congratulate him on achieving his sixth Dan black belt.
Vauxhall Motors shift duty officer, Sensei Mike O’Connor, achieved his grading aged 59 after returned to the process having not been graded since 1983.
There are only 10 sixth Dan grades in the UK and news made it across the Atlantic to Kevin Little, formerly of Newton in Chester, who trained with Handbridge Shotokan Karate Club stalwart Mike in 1979.
Now teaching in two dojos of his own in San Francisco, he got his US students to sign the stars and stripes and surprised Mike with a visit to his class.
“He had grown a lot but facially he looked the same,” said Mike.
“It was great to see him and train with him again.”
According to Kevin, the feeling was mutual.
“It is a great achievement to get your sixth Dan and as he is still at the Handbridge Club, I knew where to find him,” he said.
Mike said he may yet take his seventh Dan, but that may be where he stops grading as time marches on.
“Usually there is 10 years between the higher grades,” he said.
“I may make seventh but eight may be too much at 79.”