Pair happy with top achievement

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AFTER more than 10›hours of gruelling testing, Invercargill’s Steven Taylor and Tim Kennett have been awarded first degree black belts in Kung Fu.
‘‘I am pretty happy with myself. We are really in the black belt head space now. We are living it,’’ Ken› nett said.
‘‘I am pretty darn happy. It is a huge personal achievement,’’ Taylor said.
The pair, from Invercargill Chan’s Martial Arts School, were the only Southlanders among the seven students from throughout New Zea› land who underwent the annual grading in Christchurch in Novem› ber.
They were required to prepare the entire curriculum for the grading, including patterns, wrist locks, take downs, knife drills and pad work, to be performed in front of Grand Master Chan and five other masters.
Kennett said the students did not know what the tests would be until and day and it was a ‘‘gruelling’’ process.
‘‘You have really got to want it… and be a bit mad. We prepared for the worst, but we were ready.’’
In the lead up to grading, the pair underwent high intensity training three to four times a week, increas› ing as the test drew nearer.
‘‘It was a big part of our lives last year — very intense,’’ Kennett said.
Only those invited by the masters were able to go through black belt grading process, the men said. Students first had to survive a two› day Kung Fu camp in Queenstown in August where the master selected those they considered ready to be tested.
Both men said they considered obtaining a black belt as finishing their apprenticeship and they would now continue the journey and move up the through the black belt ranks.
In Kung Fu there are 10 levels or degrees of black belt. Grand Master Chan is a 10th degree black belt.
The centuries›old Chinese›based martial art form was not only about teaching self defence, but also about teaching morals, life values and respect, Chan’s Martial Arts chief instructor Brent Davidson said.
Kennett and Taylor were his 21st and 22nd students to obtain a black belt since the school opened about 22 years ago, he said.
‘‘It is a huge achievement. The black belt test is gruelling and stressful… The students’ true char› acter shows itself when they are stressed.’’

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