MARTIAL ARTS: FOUR members of a family have followed their father's lead by passing their ju-jitsu gradings with flying colours.
Black belt Steven McCaffrey, assistant instructor at Runcorn's thriving Mu-Shin Koryu Ju-Jitsu Club, saw two sons and two daughters step up in standard.
David was awarded blue belt and Rachel her purple/white belt while both Martin and Kayleigh received yellow.
'I was very proud of all four of them - they have trained so hard for these grades over the past four months,' said Steven.
The highlight of the ju-jitsu grading - involving more than 40 juniors and 27 seniors - was the award of 1st Degree black belt to senior member Noel Smith, a student of the club's chief instructor, Renshi David Hughes, for nearly six years.
'Noel put his whole heart into the grading,' explained David. 'At one point, he collapsed to the floor in exhaustion due to the effort he put in.
'He then plucked up all the courage and strength that he could find and, after being cheered on by his fellow students, he battled through a further 90 minutes of demonstrating self-defence techniques, competing against other black belts and completing no fewer than 10 ground-grappling fights.'
The chief instructor presented Noel with his certificate and, in customary fashion, tied the black belt around Noel's waist and invited him to stand with all the other black belts at the front of the class.
The whole club cheered and applauded Noel as he was addressed for the first time as 'sensei' - meaning teacher.
'It was very emotional at the end as Noel dedicated his new grade to his father, who sadly died two years ago,' added David.
The club also graded members to their first grade in Kobu-Jitsu (Weapons), with the highest mark being awarded to Matthew Mannion.
Special awards known as the Trophy Of Best Spirit were awarded to Ryan Barnshaw, Ellie Isherwood and Daniel Bailey by a grading panel, chaired by Martin Flett, Dave Evans and Gordon Leather and overseen by David Hughes.
John Austin also received the Trophy Of Best Spirit for his outstanding self-defence techniques and ground fighting.
Red belt was presented amid rapturous applause to Peter Achilles, who is the youngest club member at just four years old but has demonstrated great enthusiasm and courage in his training over the past four months.
The successful junior candidates were: Sean Achilles, Peter Achilles, Daniel Bailey, Kieron Barnes, Ryan Barnshaw, Jack Bindin, Richard Birch, Sophie Birch, Liam Blackburn, Joshua Bury, Leonard Daily, Ryan Davies, Josh Dimelow, Adam Flaherty, Rebbeca Hulme, Alex Hulme, Ellie Isherwood, James Ives, Scott Janion, Lewis Jones, Liam Jones, Stephen Lee, David Mayers, Jamie McDougall, Adam McGuire, Sue McNicholas, Michael Melerangi, Ricky Nestor, Daniel Quinton, Sian Rice, Sean Robinson, Oliver Rowe, Thomas Smith, Lewis Smith, Liam Smith, Adam Williams and Ashley Wright.
The senior candidates to pass their gradings were: John Austin, Chris Biggs, Tim Bindin, Lynden Brocklesby, Andrew Buckley, Lee Carder, Matty Fenn, Steven Flynn, Gary Carter, Darren Jones, Neil Marsden, Martin McCaffrey, Kayleigh Mc-Caffrey, Rachel McCaffrey, David McCaffrey, Colin Munn, Lyn Sargeant, Michael Shelley, Lee Simpson, Noel Smith and Jamie Thomas.
Passing the 1st Kobu-Jitsu (traditional Japanese weapons) grading were: Kyle Hughes, Daniel Bailey, Ryan Barnshaw, Lynden Brocklesby, Leonard Daily, Rachel McCaffrey, Ian Sargeant, Jamie Thomas, Andy Wilkinson, Lyndon Jacks, Daniel Forrester, Matthew Forrester, Matthew Mannion, Lee Carder and Peter Roberts.