Thursday 10th December 2009 by C. Freeman
Sixth Former Olivia Hogan is probably the youngest person in the country to gain her 3rd Dan in karate after practising the sport for 11 years. Olivia, who trains with the Traditional International Shotokan Karate Association, had a gruelling grading session where she had to spar with 3rd and 4th Dans, as well as perform countless katas (sequences of set moves).
She first started karate at the age of five and her parents got involved as well. Her dad is now an instructor and her mum is a black belt so it has definitely been a long-term family hobby. Last year former student Lee Stockley attained his 3rd Dan at the age of 17, but now Olivia has beaten his record as the youngest student in the club history, and probably the whole country, to attain the grade.
Olivia was presented with her Sandan certificate by TISKA club founder, Sensei Gursharan Sahota at a celebration ball alongside hundreds of other karateka who had all attained black belt level or above.
Olivia's dad also gained his 3rd Dan and so the two supported each other in the run-up to the grading. She said: 'We helped each other out and practised every night. I didn't really feel under pressure I just looked at it as a hobby. I enjoy doing it and I was just going to take it as a bit of fun. I was training up to five times a week coming up to the grading which was quite intense. The adrenaline kicks in because you have to go against the higher grades, like 3rd and 4th Dans and they're all fully-grown men so I had to fight them. It was scary. You get a few hits but I didn't come out with any bruises so it wasn't too bad.'
It will now take about four years of training before she can get to 4th Dan level but she recommends karate as a hobby: 'It's a really good atmosphere at the club, you make loads of friends, it keeps you really fit and you're always learning something new.'