A DELIGHTED grandad has become one of the oldest karate club members in Chingford to achieve his black belt.
Dad-of-four Roger Rayner, of Colvin Gardens, has been going to weekly karate classes at Rush Croft School, Rushcroft Road, since 1999.
The determined 53-year-old finally earned his black belt during a gruelling grading ceremony on March 27. He was tested in a sparring session, had to show off punches, kicks and blocks and ran through 40-odd moves in a strict routine in front of top Japanese sensei Master Enoeda.
Mr Rayner decided to try karate when he took 16-year-old daughter Sarah to her first classes with the Chingford Karate Club at Rush Croft five years ago.
He said: "I just thought, I might as well take part too if I'm going to be bringing her to the lessons every time.
"I wanted to get a bit fitter but once you start you get so addicted to it. Sarah eventually stopped going to the club and took up kick boxing instead, I don't think she liked the discipline needed for karate.
"I ended up more or less working my life around the karate, I was going four times a week at one point. I started at 49 and am now helping to teach some of the beginners' classes at the school.
"I guess I was a bit old but there are older people than me at the classes and I'm not expected to be as flexible as an 18-year-old. Allowances are made for that and if you show you are putting 110 per cent into it they accept that."
The BT engineer, grandad to four-year-old Sean, the son of one of his other daughters, is now hoping to continue learning karate and over the next six years reach the Third Dan grade, where he will be able to teach classes on his own.
His instructor Rod Butler is delighted with his success and believes the grandad is an ideal role model for others wishing to take up the sport.
He said: "It's most difficult to achieve this level when you compete with people much younger than yourself.
"Roger was determined to achieve his black belt and he is a great example for people of any age to start karate and achieve success. I'm very proud of his efforts."
Karate classes take place at Rush Croft School on a Tuesday or Thursday from 7.15pm or at Larkswood Leisure Centre, New Road, at midday on Sunday.
For more information visit www.karate-london.co.uk or call 8364 3606.