U-E students receive black belts after years of hard work and training

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VESTAL, NY – Two Union-Endicott students are becoming masters in karate.

For the past 4 years 9 year old Madden Ballard has been training and studying the traditional Korean martial art.

He’s been training 3 to 5 days a week with his cousin, Tory Lombardo, who is the owner of Tri-City Karate Academy.

Ballard became a black belt candidate 1 year ago, and on April 16th and 17th he successful completed the testing, receiving his first degree black belt.

He received his black belt in Tang Soo Do karate.

Ballard says one of his tasks was to write a 1,000 word essay on what martial arts means to him.

“It gives me knowledge of martial arts, it gives me discipline. It shows me respect, it treats me how to stand up for myself, it helps me get muscles,” says Ballard.

Ballard’s next step is to test for his second degree black belt in two years.

Over that same weekend, 7th grader Leah Farmer tested for her second degree black belt.

She has been at Tri-City Karate Academy for 5 years now and also trains 3 to 4 days a week.

Farmer says she had to work to become physically and mentally prepared for this test by studying Korean and practicing her kicks.

“I was very happy when I got it because I felt like I put a lot of work into it and I was very happy I got such a good accomplishment,” says Farmer.

Farmer says martial arts has helped her gain strength and confidence to protect herself.

As for her next step, in 3 years Farmer will begin testing to become a 3rd degree black belt.

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