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Karate kid Zach, 8, is UK's youngest black belt.

Byline: Carl Yapp

AN EIGHT-year-old boy who has been dubbed Wales's answer to the Karate Kid has become the youngest black belt in the country.

Precocious talent Zach Galliford achieved the remarkable feat after training for just three years in the ancient Japanese martial art.

From Borth, near Aberystwyth, he is a member of the Karate Union of Great Britain, the sport's oldest and largest association.

Of its 11,500 members throughout the country, he is the youngest to hold a black belt, its officials claim.

Zach took up the sport when he turned five because he was small for his age and feared he would be a victim of bullying in later life.

After just a year his coach and mentor Roger Sayce died, but Zach continued with his training and vowed to get the much sought after black belt in memory of Mr Sayce.

A delighted Zach, who lists one of his favourite films as the 1984 classic The Karate Kid, which sees bullied New York-born youngster Daniel La Russo (played by Ralph Macchio) train to become a martial art champion, said, ``I am proud to have become a first Dan black belt and I want to progress now and try and earn my other Dan black belts.

``It's been hard work, but I enjoy karate and look forward to training every week.

``When Mr Sayce died I decided to carry on and get my black belt for him.''

The national administrator of the Karate Union of Great Britain, Bob Poynton, said the organisation was pleased and proud of Zach. The union, based in Liverpool, has 400 clubs in Britain and 40 in Wa

es .

Mr Poynton said, ``He is certainly the youngest black belt on our books.

``It's highly unusual for a boy of Zach's age to become a black belt in karate. It's an amazing achievement and one that Zach has worked incredibly hard for.

``Zach is what we call a first Dan black belt, but he has another nine to go to become a master. He's already studying for his second Dan, but cannot take his third Dan until he is aged 21.''

Mr Poynton added, ``Zach has exactly the right attitude for karate.

``He is committed, positive, controlled, focused and puts in an immense amount of effort and hard work. Some adults take years to attain their black belt. They may have the aptitude but don't have the attitude.

``I understand for the last three years Zach has been practising up to three times a week at his local club and because his height is well below five foot he is regularly competing against people who are sometimes twice his size.

``He doesn't have the power yet but he uses evasion tactics and his speed to defend himself. The union is very pleased and proud of what Zach has achieved.''

Proud parents, Una and Robert, said their son had worked hard to achieve his ambition.

``He took up karate aged just five because he was small for his age and although he wasn't being bullied, he felt that he may be picked out at an older age,'' said Mrs Galliford.

``His coach Roger Sayce was also small and when he started the club in Borth he took Zach under his wing.

``When he died we thought Zach would stop, but he said he would get his black belt for Roger. He has done that and we're very proud of him.

``He has also reached semi-finals in karate competitions - I suppose that he's Wales's answer to the Karate Kid.''

Hi-yah! The best - and the worst - of Hollywood's mar tial arts movies

FIVE BEST MARTIAL ARTS FILMS # 1. Enter the Dragon # 2. Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon # 3. Kung Fu # 4. The Matrix # 5. Police StoryAND THE FIVE WORST MARTIAL ARTS FILMS... # 1. Karate Kid I, II, III # 2. Shanghai Noon# 3. Streetfighter # 4. Rumble in the B ro

x # 5. Nico

An ancient discipline

# KARATE can be traced back some 1,400 years to the founder of Zen Buddhism, Daruma, who developed a progressive training system, for greater strength and endurance.

# The different styles developed in the Shaolin monastery in northern China and found their way to Okinawa, influencing their own fighting method Okinawa-te (Okinawan hand).

# From early on karate was an indigenous form of closed fist fighting which was developed in Okinawa.

# This developed in three cities over the years Shuri, Naha and Tomari. # The first public demonstration of karate in Japan was in 1917 by Gichin Funakoshi, at the Butoku-den in Kyoto.

# In 1922, Funakoshi was invited to demonstrate at the famous Kodokan Dojo by Dr Jigoro Kano, founder of judo, and teach karate and Japan became the base for the art.

# Modern day karate-do in Japan has four styles, Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shotokan, and Wado-ryu. KUNG FU # In China methods of self defence weredeveloped based not only on fighting tactics, but also the principles of psychology, physiology, medicine, physical therapy and meditation. # Much of Kung Fu is based on fighting techniques observed from the animal kingdom.

*Other influential factors were the beliefs of Chinese philosophy and religion.

# Tai Chi Chuan and the softer styles of Kung Fu came from Taoism, but many of the hard styles trace their origin to the Buddhist monastery called Shaolin (Siu Lum in Cantonese).

# An Indian priest named Tamo established residence nearly 1,500 years ago. According to legend, Tamo arrived at the Shaolin monastery where he found the monks in poor physical condition. After introducing 18 exercises they were improved.

# In the 16th Century Kwok Yuen not only mastered the Shaolin art, but expanded its fighting patterns into 72 exercises.

# Later these increased to 170 and were classified into five animal forms: the dragon, tiger, leopard, crane and snake.


RIGHT ATTITUDE: First Dan Zach Galliford, 8, is 'committed, positive controlled and focused' Picture: Arvid Parry Jones
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 13, 2003
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