Tiger Martial Arts black belt candidates undergo final round of testing Friday

Black belts are well earned

About two dozen Kamloops black belt candidates who have been training for years will see their hard work pay off on Friday.

A group of students from Sahali’s Tiger Martial Arts will face their final round of testing Friday, aiming for their deputy first degree or second degree black belts.

Blake McCallum, chief instructor, said the black belt candidates have already passed two earlier rounds of pre-tests to make it to Friday’s testing — and many have faced their own personal journeys, including family struggles, injuries and other setbacks, to hit this milestone.

“The select group that is making it here this Friday, it’s very, very exciting — because they've all made it through a lot to get there,” McCallum said.

Myah Dueck, 15, is aiming to get her first degree black belt. She said she has been practicing martial arts for about three and a half years.

“I was dancing, but I decided I didn't want to do that anymore and I wanted to find something more myself,” Dueck said. “Dancing didn't really make me happy anymore — but I found this and I was way happier.”

Dueck said it took a lot of work to hit this level in martial arts.

“I came home really tired some nights. ...But I put in this much work, and I wouldn't quit going this far,” she said.

She said she’s been practicing her sword form, tiger forms — including kicking, punching, and blocks — and self defences in preparation for Friday’s test.

“It’s really exciting. I'm proud that I've stuck through with it for this long, and I'm just excited to be able to tell people I have my black belt.”

The students at Tiger Martial Arts are taught a mixed style of martial arts, rooted in Taekwondo and including elements of kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and teuk-gong. Black belt candidates will be tested on the basics, like fundamental kicks, punches and strikes, as well as their cardio and mental strength.

McCallum said testing is an intense day, filled with nerves and excitement, but is also a celebration.

“These guys have already put in all the work. …Friday should be a day that they're going to come in and celebrate all the hard work they've put in the past three to five, almost 10 years for some people,” he said.

Lincoln Campbell, 11, is getting his second degree black belt.

“I’ve just been practicing, and getting ready for Friday. And I guess I'm just a little bit nervous about it, too. Because it's my second degree,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to do it on the actual day. But I know I can do it.”

After this round of testing, many students have set goals to achieve higher black belt levels. Some are helping to teach classes as coaches in training, working to pass their skills on to others.

McCallum says he’s proud of how hard these students have worked to get to this level.

“They all deserve the shine that they're going to be getting on Friday,” he said.

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