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Rare accomplishment tests spirit
Istok Tanevski has become
the first Australian to
achieve a second degree
black belt in Okinawa Ryu
Karate Do. Picture: Elesa Lee
TORRENS resident Istok
Tanevski has become the first
person in Australia to be award-
ed a second degree black belt in
a traditional form of karate.
Tanevski has been training in
the discipline of Okinawa Ryu
Karate Do Shuri Te Seibukan
for the past 11 years, starting
when he was 12 years old.
He is one of the youngest
people in the world to attain
second degree, or dan, black
belt, after completing an ardu-
ous grading weekend in Mount
Beauty in Victoria last month.
''I don't really know how to
describe it, it's definitely an
honour,'' Tanevski said.
''In the last 25 years since the
Canberra Dojo opened, only a
handful of people have stepped
up to be graded for brown and
black belts, so it is humbling to
be the first one to gain second
Tanevski said the grading
weekend was a gruelling
experience, running for about
14 hours over the two days.
He was judged by Garry
O'Connor, a ninth level dan,
who introduced this form of
martial arts to Australia.
''When you sit for a grading,
you're never guaranteed of
attaining it,'' he said.
''You need to demonstrate a
high level of skill, commitment
''The grading is physically
and mentally intense; it's a
continuous physical exam. ''It
tests your spirit, to see if you
can push through the fatigue
and remain sharp and alert.''
The Okinawa Ryu Karate Do
form of martial arts is
descended from the guards of
the royal family in Okinanwa in
Tanevski said he was attrac-
ted to it after hearing a training
session in the Canberra Dojo,
based in Torrens, when he was
''It caught my eye because it
looked like a real martial art;
you could see the tradition in
their etiquette and how they
acted. When I first asked to join
I was told I was too young, but
I kept pestering them and they
eventually let me join,'' he said.
''Other martial arts didn't
seem to have the same attention
''The training is hard and the
standard is set high, and it is
really exciting to get in and
learn new skills.''
As well as learning new
physical skills, Tanevski said he
had learned a lot about his own
character through his training.
''It has given me spirituality
and wellbeing. It opens up your
eyes to a different way of
thinking,'' he said.
''It trains the mind, body and
spirit to help develop people's
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