A YOUNG karate student from Seahouses has just attained her black belt at the age of 14.
But Laura Leadbitter may not be the only one in her household to achieve that particular milestone, as her younger brothers Jack, 11, and Ben, seven, are both studying for their 1st Dans.
All three are members of the Seahouses Shotokan Club, who train twice a week under the guidance of instructor Ali Liddell. He has been running the club for 32 years, but admits the future is uncertain as he is currently trying to persuade some of the up-and-coming youngsters to take on a more leading role.
“I am a gas engineer and a retained fireman,” said Ali, “so it is not easy juggling my time with the karate as well.
“As a result, junior members at the club who are not black belts have to travel to Alnwick twice a week for training.
“I am currently only training black belts at the middle school and, while I will continue to do that in the future,
“I am now looking for one of the young black belts to come forward and take a more active role.”
Ali says the only conditions are that any suitable candidates must be at least 18 years of age, as that is the minimum age they can teach karate.
“The club has been thriving for many years,” said Ali.
“And we currently have about ten members, although in the past we have had as many as 30.
“Each year we still run the Junior North Eastern Championships, which attracts around 100 competitors. This year was the 22nd staging of the event and we are very keen for it to continue.”
With regards to Laura, Ali said she has been a member of the club for six years and has had to work very hard to achieve her black belt.
“It is a great achievement for her to get to this level,” he said.
“They don’t just hand out black belts, and this is all the more satisfying for Laura as it was her second attempt. She had to do kata and fight and win to get the belt.
“She had to demonstrate skills in kicking, punching and blocking and she has shown great determination. It is not only physical but also mentally demanding.”