Martial arts students from the Dojo complex in Ballymena, took their skills and knowlegde to a whole new level recently.
As the students from all over Northern Ireland eagerly congregated at the Woodside Road venue, the level of excitement and anticipation was tangible.
Among them were 18 students from the junior section of Ballymena’s dojo attempting their Junior Black belt and Gold Tab Kobudo grades.
There were also three making the leap from junior to senior section Clare and Daniel Surgenor (Dojo) and Libby Stewart (Galgorm club) who, along with William Finlay, senior at the Dojo attained Shodan or 1st Degree Blackbelt.
Ryan McClean, Ryan Avery and Michael Graham, all volunteer coaches at the Dojo successfully graded to Nidan or 2nd Degree Black belt and John Rosborough who trained at Ballymena club in the 80’s and now runs his own successful club in Londonderry passed his 3rd Dan grade.
Finally Gareth Rainey – coach of Galgorm and Ballymena North Ju-Jitsu clubs, was promoted to Master instructor following his successful Godan grading.
This grading may be attempted by invitation only from the Ireland Shihan committee and president of the organisation, Shike Bertoletti.
Gareth was a personal student of Head of Country Kai cho David Toney from he was just 14 years of age, volunteering in the club from the age of 16.
“It gives me great satisfaction to see all my students progress,” said David, “but I’ve known Gareth since he was a young boy and watched him grow and progress into a fantastic coach.
“For him to now reach this momentous stage in his Ju-Jitsu career is a really proud moment.
“‘Master Rainey’ has worked so hard over the years and he really deserves this prestigious grade,” added David.