Well-deserved black belts
Four hours, nine fights and a final 400m saw Bradley Lang and Alex Whytock earn their black belts in Gong Yau Kung Fu.
The 17-year-old mates from Timaru Boys' High School joined their Kung Fu club six years ago as they were looking for something different to do.
Their grading at the weekend, however, tested them to the limit with Lang saying the final three freestyle fights were the toughest part of the day.
Whytock said the last act of the day, the 400m sprint, was the hardest as he was exhausted.
Their instructor Brian Armstrong was rapt with their efforts.
"They did really well, it was not easy at all, they had to do everything they had learned in six years."
Armstrong said that included 250 press-ups, 80 sit-ups and nine fights, three with hands, three with legs and three freestyle. The club, Gong Yau Kung Fu and Street Self Defence, set up in the West End Hall about a year ago after separating from judo.
"We just decided it was time to go our own way and have 20 members, mainly family groups."
Armstrong said the difference between their discipline and other martial arts was they were "the real deal".
"We teach street self defence but the kicks are real."
The new name had also attracted several young people to the dojo, he said.
Whytock said he liked Kung Fu because the club was friendly and it was something completely different. His other sports interest is yachting.
Lang said he enjoyed the fitness and friendships.
"It is really good for you and I've just enjoyed it."
They train twice a week but stepped up dramatically in the buildup to their black belts and both will continue to help train at the dojo.
Armstrong gained his black belt in 2008 and is pleased he will no longer be the only one at the club.
Gong Yau is a southern Chinese martial art that originated in the Tang Dynasty and is representative of southern styles in being based on a low, stable horse stance. It employs many upper body techniques and most kicks are kept low.
- The Timaru Herald