A MOTHER and son martial arts duo became the first members of their club to achieve 1st dan black belts.

Barnard Castle Chungdokwan Taekwondo Club was founded in 2012 by Katey Wallace, 5th dan.

And after six years of studying both the physical and philosophical elements of the martial art, members Helen and Thomas Overfield, 13, were awarded the prestigious belt.

Mrs Wallace said: “In some clubs, students can get their black belts after two to three years. However, martial arts are not a race, when you are ready you are ready. It depends on how often you train and your attitude when you are here.

“Both Helen and Thomas have massively ramped up their training in the last six months and really deserve this moment.”

Katey praised Thomas for persevering with training even when, at times, he was the only child in his age and grade group.

She said: “It would have been so easy for Thomas to quit. He started with friends that have dropped off, sometimes he's been the only child training his age and grade, but still he's persevered and trained hard and attended everything he could. I'm really proud of him and this achievement. Both him and Helen will make great role models and black belts."

Mrs Overfield, whose husband also trains, took up martial arts slightly after Thomas but has since thrown herself into her training and now loves it.

She said: “I can't imagine not training now. Getting my black belt is a dream come true but it's only the start for me. I can't wait to learn more and help teaching.”

Three other members of the Barnard Castle Taekwondo club which primarily trains in Weardale and Darlington also achieved higher dan grades. Anita Mokryj, from Weardale, was awarded her 2nd dan and 17-year-olds Max Tams, from Darlington, and Daniel Graham, of the Weardale group, were promoted to 3rd dan black belt.

Little Kicker classes for six to 10-year-olds, adult lessons and over 50s sessions are available with Master Katey at the Hub in Barnard Castle. For details on classes call Katey on 07901-650796 or visit chungdokwantkd.co.uk to book a free taster session.