Bishop, 10, earns karate black belt
Zachary Bishop, aged 10, has just celebrated a martial arts milestone with the earning of his junior black belt.
After more than 350 karate lessons at The Academy of Martial Arts on Front Street, Zachary has become Sensei Bobby Smith’s third student below the age of 18 to obtain the rank in 37 years of teaching.
Karate helps to keep Zachary focused on his schoolwork.
Zachary said: “We have an opening ceremony where we clear our minds of distractions with meditation and I use this in other areas, like when I’m about to read a book for school.”
Mr Smith called Zachary “dedicated from the get-go, having attended our Lions programme since he was 5 years old”.
Mr Smith is Bermuda’s chief instructor for the International Okinawan Goju Karate Federation, the largest Okinawan Karate organisation in the world.
Mr Smith said: “We move children up to the international syllabus, which has consistent teaching and examinations across 55 countries with 75,000 students, when they are about seven years old.”
Zachary has travelled to Canada and the United States for karate training with many of the IOGKF masters and can be found in the dojo “pretty much every other day”, according to his proud parents, Gavin and Lisa Bishop.
He has won gold medals and grand championship trophies across the island’s martial arts competitions, and in recent years has been the only under-10 advanced student.
In addition to the training, Zachary had to learn vital points in Japanese and many historical and technical facts about the art.
Zachary said his grading was the same as that for the adult black belts, aside from a number of exercises “that I’m not allowed to do until my bones have finished growing”.
Mr Bishop said Zachary’s sensei had been “incredible with the children at all ages and levels and that it is rare to actually find such an experienced master who enjoys teaching such a broad range of students”.
Mrs Bishop said: “We’re glad that he has something that he is passionate about. We’ve never had to force him to attend classes and the dojo is on the way home from school, which works really well for us.”
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