Martial arts students raised to black belt status in Sunday ceremony

Back row, from left, Sensei Paul Podstaka, Sensei Dean Goddard, Renshi Craig Mason, Hanshi Yogi Israel Segarra, Kyoshi Alice Rodley-Segarra, Renshi Dan Fletcher, Sensei Craig Bentley and Sensei Given Cortes pose with new blackbelts Sempai Mackenzie Cortes and Sempai Brian Boyle. photo by Rebecca Wood

LITTLE CURRENT— The Manitoulin School of Martial Arts hosted a Black Belt ceremony on Sunday, October 18 at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Center where Sempai Brian Boyle (age 38) and Sempai Mackenzie Cortes (age 13) were both awarded their Black Belts in Go Ju Ryu karate.

Both Mr. Boyle and Ms. Cortes have been training with the Manitoulin School of Martial Arts (MSMA) for six years under the guidance of Renshi Dan Fletcher.

“They are both original members of MSMA, training and learning with me since I began the karate school here in Little Current. We have a close core group in the school, a lot of them family members, and it was nice to see everyone come out to the ceremony and support Brian and Mackenzie in their accomplishment” the renshai said with the conclusion the black belt ceremony.

Also in attendance, besides family members and fellow karate students, were a handful of Black Belt teachers from Northern Ontario. According to Mr. Fletcher, “We invite each other to attend events such as this, not only to endorse our students and sign certificates, but to show support for the martial arts in Northern Ontario. We are a close knit group. We grew up together, train together, and it is nice to get together and reminisce. Hanshi Yogi Israel and Kyoshi Alice were my karate teachers since I first started karate when I was seven-years-old. It gives me a sense of pride to have my teachers here at my school and evaluate my students as they earn their black belt.”

Sempai Mackenzie Cortes and Sempai Brian Boyle lead the class in a kata. photo by Alicia McCutcheon
Sempai Mackenzie Cortes and Sempai Brian Boyle lead the class in a kata.
photo by Alicia McCutcheon

After a quick warm up, the karate students showcased their abilities in blocks, kicks and katas, then Sempai Mackenzie and Sempai Brian had to individually perform two katas for the visiting Black Belts and spectators.

“The two of them have already been graded by me prior to this day. They had to spar in class, perform self defense moves, and I am always evaluating them with their kata. However, until today’s ceremony, they did not know whether they had passed or not. Apparently the not knowing part was causing Brian to lose sleep and Mackenzie was quiet and nervous,” explains Renshi Dan.

The two black belts were handed out along with a white belt and a framed certificate. “I always give a white belt when a black belt is earned so that they don’t forget where they came from. Someone once said that a Black Belt is simply a White Belt that didn’t give up. I firmly believe that. Just because you have a black belt in karate doesn’t mean that you stop learning. I have probably learned the most since I became a black belt when I was 17-years-old. I am very proud of them both and look forward to learning more with them in the future,” explains Renshi Dan.

The entire Manitoulin School of Martial Arts would like to extend their congratulations to Sempai Brian Boyle and Sempai Mackenzie Cortes on earning their Shodan (black belt) and Shodan-ho (junior black belt). Keep up the good work.