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Tuesday, 21 May 2019 02:28 pm

Ben, 12, youngest junior black belt

Apr 21st, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News, Sport

KARATE KID: Ben Toner-Symons demonstrates a karate block and stance.

KARATE KID: Ben Toner-Symons demonstrates a karate block and stance.

TWELVE-YEAR-OLD Ben Toner-Symons has become Wellington’s youngest black belt in his form of karate.

Ben’s goal was to earn a junior black belt before he was 13 in Go Kan Ryu (GKR), and he has easily made the grade.

Ben says becoming a black belt is be a way of showing others, and himself, how much hard work he has put in over the past six years.

Ben’s previous karate achievements are not small, having competed in the GKR Karate World Cup 2009 in Melbourne, where he took home a bronze medal for kumite, or sparring.

He said being at the World Cup was a fantastic experience and he would love to compete again.

“I’d like to regain my title at the worlds and hopefully better it,” he says.

Ben is also the reigning GKR New Zealand national champion in his age group for both kumite and kata, which is a sequence of self defence moves.

Ben still remembers his first karate class, when he was only seven years old.

His mother, Donna Toner-Symons, describes watching him at his first class and thinking he would never go back.

“First class ever I sat there on the sideline and watched him, laughing, thinking that he would never ever go back to karate,” she says.

Then when he left the class she says she was so surprised when he said how much fun he had and couldn’t wait to go back.

However, Ben’s whole karate journey hasn’t been smooth and he has faced challenges to getting to where he is now, and there was even a time where he felt like quitting karate.

When he was a blue belt, Ben’s first instructor, Sensei Scott MacKenzie, had moved dojo (hall) and Ben felt like he wasn’t progressing anywhere in his training.

Donna described it as the “blue belt blues”.

“Ben was very low in his training and very disillusioned.”

They managed to track down Sensei Scott and Ben was able to move forward and grade to his red belt.

In the future Ben says that he would love to train in Japan, where karate first originated.

“I’d like to go to Japan to study karate, that would be really awesome.”

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  1. That is so true Tory. One of my instructors at karate is 65 years old! I don’t think age is a factor at all in if you get a black belt or not. One of my favourite quotes is “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.”

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