Hawke's Bay Special Needs Taekwondo director Ben Evans described Johann Landkroon as a "walking library".
"If I lost my mind and forgot my theory one day Johann would be the one to help me," Evans said.
He was reflecting on Landkroon's successful verbal theory segment on his way to gaining first degree black belt status during a day-long examination this month.
Various patterns had challenging words but Landkroon, who has Down syndrome, remembered every word in the correct sequence.
The day began with a floor performance involving several physical requirements which was followed by a fitness test before the verbal theory segment.
Among the physical assignments was breaking a 20mm piece of wood with a kick.
Landkroon, 23, also had to demonstrate several self defence moves in a circle situation where he was surrounded but with his eyes shut until approached.
He had to defeat his attackers in different situations.
"Johann put his heart and soul into his training and deserved his every moment of success with regards to everything he performed to the best of his ability. The fitness test involved a great deal which again, for everyone grading, felt like the never-ending grading," Evans said.
Landkroon also had to submit an essay-style article about what taekwondo had done for him. He explained how it helped him to function more positively, in a non-aggressive manner and how it helped him gain more respect for his seniors.
Taekwondo also helped him to understand younger children better and the importance of working together as a team.
Evans said Landkroon was already talking about his determination to gain his second degree black belt.