Earlier this month, Goulburn local Paul Parlett scaled a height in karate which very few practitioners ever hope to reach.
The 41-year-old returned from a trip to Okinawa, Japan, on Sunday, June 4, where he became the youngest Goju-ryu sixth-dan black belt in the world.
Having practiced karate since the age of six, it was a well-earned reward for Parlett's lifelong commitment to the art.
"It's cool," was Parlett's response when asked how it felt when he was awarded his belt.
"It's a great achievement, but it sort of sunk in after I spoke to other senior grades after the grading results were read out and I realised that I passed.
"Just talking to them and having the senior grades say 'this is quite a big thing, don't underplay it'.
"This is real."
Though the grading itself took place on Thursday, August 1, it was accompanied by a week-long event in which a number of seminars, lessons, and training sessions took place.
This, Parlett said, was to ensure that the grading nominees not only had the requisite knowledge and technique required to progress to the next level, but also had the appropriate bearing and mindset required of a senior blackbelt.
"The grading went for three hours on Thursday, but you've gotta do the training to start with," he said.
"Everyone knows, unofficially, your grading starts with the first session. Eyes are on the senior guys to check them out and make sure they're not saving themselves for the grading."
The grading marked the first time Parlett had returned to Okinawa for several years.
Traditionally, blackbelts in the Goju-ryu discipline travel to Japan once a year to reconnect with their peers and train, however personal commitments had precluded Parlett from doing so.
He noted that the hardest part of his return to Japan's southernmost island was dealing with the intense heat and humidity.
Now that Parlett has achieved sixth dan, he intends to continue teaching at his school, the Institute of Traditional Karate, where he instructs students ranging from five years old to those in their 60s.
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