Teen joins black belt elite
Leighton Bagrie took up karate to improve his fitness. Five years on, the Southland Boys' High School student is a shodan black belt. Bagrie passed the first of 10 levels of black belt at a grading weekend in Dunedin last month.
Invercargill's GoJu Ryu Karate Club had four members attending, its instructor Steve Hibbs said.
"They don't give out black belts to children unless they can hold their own against adults. He [Bagrie] is quite mature for his age and definitely above average in skill."
Bagrie, 15, started karate training to get fit for motocross. His interest in the martial art grew to the stage that he gave up motocross two years ago.
"It [karate] teaches you respect for people and it helps people," said Bagrie, who is one of five black belts at the GoJu Ryu club.
The club has 75 members - 20 aged from four to six (known as grasshoppers), 35 aged from seven to 13, and 20 from age 14 and older.
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