Three students from Bridgnorth Endowed School are celebrating their incredible black belt achievements in kickboxing, after a gruelling physical assessment last weekend.
Eleanor Banks (Year 11) and brother Thomas (Year 10) both moved up to 2nd Dan black belts, and their younger brother Rory (Year 7) secured his well-deserved 1st Dan black belt too.
Gruelling Physical Assessment
The weekend began with a fitness test of sit-ups and push-ups, each for two minutes, followed by the ‘Ten Hills’ that comprises a three-mile run and ten steep hill sprints.
Already difficult in itself, the pace makes it even tougher. The slower a runner is, the more hills they need to do and if they fall more than three hills behind the first runner, they’re immediately pulled out of the race.
Next came the sparring test, which was made up of approximately 16 rounds, each with a fresh partner and deploying a range of styles, including mixture points fighting, continuous sparring, full contact and grappling for five minutes. For the 2nd Dan assessment, Eleanor and Thomas also needed to coach cadet students during the sparring section.
Day two saw the students work through the full series of kickboxing techniques, from white belt to black belt; this part of the evaluation takes anywhere between three to five hours, depending on what mood Chief Instructor, Master Lee Matthews, is in.
Of the 35 that started the assessment, 25 passed – a remarkable achievement, especially as many students don’t reach black belt level. In fact, students are rarely put forward for 2nd Dan and above, as these tend to be for instructors only.
Demanding Training Regime
Dedicated to the sport, Eleanor, Thomas and Rory work hard to improve their skills and stamina. They attend classes in Bridgnorth and Tettenhall, run by instructors Nigel Gill and Clare Chapman, and put in hours of extra fitness training. In preparation for the ‘Ten Hills’, they had to run around Bridgnorth three times a week and regularly take part in park runs.
To achieve the rank of 2nd Dan, Eleanor and Thomas also needed to do a week-long level 2 instructor course, a referee course, a close quarters protection course and a mud run.
On top of that, they assisted their instructor by teaching the children’s classes and helping out with the cadets.
Mum, Karen, said: “I’m exceptionally proud of all of them, including my nine-year-old daughter Beatrice, who also achieved her children’s black belt last weekend. I passed my black belt 1st Dan last year, so I know exactly how hard it was for them.”
“They all just knuckled down and calmly did what needed to be done. Eleanor and Thomas had both been ill with the flu and felt poorly in the morning, but they still went ahead.”
The siblings will continue training at British Military Martial Arts in Telford, and both Eleanor and Thomas plan to do their 3rd Dan in three years’ time, part of which includes a parachute jump.
Congratulations to Eleanor, Thomas, Rory and also to Beatrice.