More than 50 martial arts students made the grade earlier this month, when they demonstrated their skills in front of visiting masters.
Don Jacob, the creator of Don Jitsu Ryu, and Anthony Thompson came to Cayman to witness 52 students earn new belts ranging from white all the way to brown belt on 14 June.
Don Jitsu Ryu is a combination of karate and jiu jitsu that focusses more on striking than grappling, and the students ranged from children to teenagers and adults.
The group performed at the John Gray High School gymnasium, demonstrating their forms in front of Jacob, a ninth-degree black belt, and Thompson, an eighth-degree black belt.
“I’m extremely proud,” said Floyd Baptiste, the local master who has taught the students. “A lot of them have worked really hard. We’ve had kids who have really had some challenges. To see them progress and not be given special treatment has been really satisfying.”
Three of the students – Lenari Seymour, Rayon McCook and J’hadri Lumley – were chosen to test for a black belt at the Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, from 19-21 July.
Baptiste said there were eight adults in the class, six of whom were over 40 years old, and he said he was especially proud of the way they fought to learn new skills.
“A lot of people think, ‘I’m too old for this,’” said Baptiste. “Their courage shows everybody that it’s never too late in life to do it.”