With his dad starting a karate school, it was only natural that at the age of seven, Jackson Youl was the first student.

Fast-forward five years and Kāpiti Karate Academy now teaches over 130 students at two premises in Raumati and Paraparaumu and Jackson has gone from a white belt to a black belt.

"Jackson is Kāpiti Karate's first home-grown black belt," Kāpiti Karate head instructor Allan Youl and father to Jackson said.

"Last week he became the first student to complete the whole journey from white belt to black belt at Kāpiti Karate Academy.

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"It seems fitting that the first person to go the whole way in this club is Jackson, the first member and the son of the founder."

Edmond Otis presenting Jackson Youl with his black belt.
Edmond Otis presenting Jackson Youl with his black belt.

The rank of Shodan (first degree black belt) was given to Jackson in Napier after an intense grading where no mistakes are allowed.

The tests are conducted this way to teach a self-defence mindset as they must be able to remain calm and in control under intense pressure.

There is only one chance to get this right, which resembles a real life situation where your life or wellbeing is threatened — one chance, no mistakes.

If a mistake is made, a minimum of three months is required until the test can be re-taken.

Shotokan International Alliance chairman, chief instructor and 8th degree black belt Edmond Otis ran the grading and awarded Jackson the promotion.

"It's been a privilege to coach Jackson through this journey and it's hard to believe he is actually wearing a black belt now," Allan said.

"He's a great student and a role model to the many students that will follow in his footsteps in the near future.

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"Quitting has always been an option for Jackson, but he's quietly worked away at his karate, continuously improving and this is the result.

"I get to be doubly proud, as coach and father."

To reach black belt there are 10 levels of skill you need to reach which are all marked by different coloured belts.

Starting with white and gradually getting darker as you progress through the ranks, each level requires a test be passed before you can wear the next coloured belt.

The levels go from white to white with a stripe, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, three levels of brown belt and then black belt.

"There is a specific test for each colour which gets progressively getting more challenging and complex, looking at attitude and behaviour as much as physical skill.

"People with perfect karate can fail a belt test because their attitude is poor."

Jackson put many hours and effort into training for his black belt.

"It took lots of hours of extra training," he said.

"But it's fun and was a relief to get it."

"I haven't done karate under anyone else before so I don't really know what the difference would be," Jackson said of their father-son working relationship.

"I have trained under some of our other instructors when Dad's not there and it's the same."

"In the dojo, I am sensei and at home a mixture of Dad and Sensei — mostly Dad, so he gets away with a bit more cheek," Allan said.

"He takes karate seriously and can distinguish between the expected behaviour in both environments.

"He's naturally assumed a leadership role in the club and I can depend on him to help out whenever needed."

"We're a good team."