Hard work, dedication lead to black belts for local martial artists

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 3, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / Febuary 3, 1999

RESERVE – At Unified Tae Kwon Do in LaPlace Saturday afternoon, three local martial artists saw the realization of their dreams by receiving their black belts.

For Eric Harrison, Robert Fisackerly and Brennon Davis and all those who receive the coveted belt, it is not an easy journey. To receive one,practitioners of the art must go through a stages of belts, starting at white.

Between each belt, they must test before going up to the next level. Theymust then go through four stages at the brown belt and wait a year before they test for a black belt. All told, it takes at a minimum of three-and-a-half years before they can become a black belt.

In testing for a black belt, the students must demonstrate the knowledge they have learned throughout their careers, from Korean terminology to the history of Tae Kwon Do. It is extremely physical as well as mental asthe students must incorporate forms and over 300 kicks and combinations.

They then must spar multiple partners, starting with one and working up to three.

Receiving their black belts was not only special to Harrison, Fisackerly and Davis but also to Master Kirt Robertson, a six-dan (degree) black belt.

The three were the first to receive their black belts under Robertson’s lineage since he became owner of the school. For Robertson, getting toown his own school was the culmination of a career in martial arts that dates back 34 years, 25 years in teaching.

“It is the crowning point of my career,” Robertson said.

Robertson said becoming a black belt is not the end of the road but just the beginning of the learning. At first it is mostly physical beforeprogressing to 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental. It continues toprogress to the point where it is 90 percent mental.

At Unified there is a slogan – the Black Belt Way – the given of 110 percent all the time, not just at the school but in life. Robertson wantshis program to travel with his students throughout their lives.

With the help of Sensei Pete Hernandez, his associate instructor, Robertson teaches students ages 4 to adult. Instruction is not only in themartial arts but also in life skills. He encourages parental support andstresses to them to get in touch with him at any time they need to. AKarate Parent Student Organization has been formed at the school to help support the students.

Harrison is looking to give back to others what he has learned by becoming an assistant instructor at the school. He has been in Tae Kwon Do for fouryears and said he would like to stay in it until he gets to be at least a third degree black belt. On Saturday, Harrison along with Fisackerly andDavis had to go through a strenuous two-hour workout test meant to test their endurance.

“It feels great especially after today,” Harrison said of receiving his black belt.

Fisackerly has also been in Tae Kwon Do for four years. He said it is asport that you have to be very dedicated to in order to stick with it.

“After all the work, it feels good,” Fisackerly said.

Davis, 10-years-old, has been in the sport for over five years. He said heliked the sport and the people he worked with and that is what kept him in it.

“It feels wonderful,” Davis said. “It took a long time to get it.”Robertson said the three were examples of the camaraderie that is prevalent in the sport. He said he named his school Unified because thereneeds to be unity in the world today.

“They are our future in Tae Kwon Do,” Robertson said of the three new black belts.

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