THREE karate black belts in one household – that’s the proud tally of the Beard family.
In 2009 dad Geoffrey, daughter Grace and son Jason started as white belts with SAMA South-West Karate in Chichester.
We offered Grace the opportunity to join our pact, though I didn’t think she would last a year. It turned out she was a natural.
Geoffrey, 43, said: “I had done karate in my youth, from age five, after my father took me to see Enter the Dragon and I told my mother when I grew up I would be Bruce Lee! I came close, but never actually achieved my first-dan black belt (shodan).
“After seeing the SAMA (Southern Areas Martial Arts) van in Chichester, my son Jason and I went and inquired of the sensei at Westgate Leisure Centre.
“We decided we would take up SAMA karate, based mainly on the wado-ryu style, on the promise to one another that we would not quit until we had achieved our shodans.
“We offered Grace the opportunity to join our pact, though I didn’t think she would last a year. It turned out she was a natural, having achieved first place for kata twice over SAMA summer and winter courses.
“But it is the sparring where the real competition lies. Most times we do not lose any points until we meet each other in the semi-finals and finals, where it normally comes down to sudden death.
“Between us we have accumulated 17 trophies and two medals in the courses – Grace seven trophies, Jason five and me five.
“As the SAMA courses are for only coloured belts, we have begun to start training to go to the midlands and compete in the FEKO (Federation of English Karate Organisations) tournament in September.
“We came through the belts together up until second kyu (second brown), where Jason and I failed our mock gradings. Grace passed hers but failed the actual grading in May 2014.
“I passed the next mock grading but Jason (now aged 15) failed, and Grace (17) and I went on to pass the grading in June 2014 ,moving to first kyu (the last colour belt), although I passed with only a three in my grading book, a lower pass.
“Jason caught us up in the next round of assessments but had to wait a long four months over the summer when no gradings are held. He ended up overtaking us in the end, passing his shodan grading while Grace and I failed.
“Luckily we only had to wait six weeks and joined him last month to complete a trio of black belts.
“I asked my mother – does this now mean I’m grown up?!”
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