Three members of one family earn their black belts on the same day

Family affair...Debbie, Tom (13) and Mark Barber have all just gained their black belt in karate.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Family affair...Debbie, Tom (13) and Mark Barber have all just gained their black belt in karate. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

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Three members of the same family have earned their karate black belts on the same day.

Dad Mark Barber, mum Debbie Barber and son Tom Barber all earned the coveted belts at the Broughton Astley branch of the Simon Coope Karate School.

Family affair...Debbie, Tom (13) and Mark Barber have all just gained their black belt in karate.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Family affair...Debbie, Tom (13) and Mark Barber have all just gained their black belt in karate. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“It was our son Tom who started first, when he was four” said Debbie.

“We were sat there as parents for an hour-and-a-half watching, and after a while we thought ‘we might as well join in ourselves’.”

Before long, Tom (now 13 and a pupil at Thomas Estley Community College in Broughton Astley), dad Mark (58) and Debbie (50) were all in training.

“We’ve been through all the belts together, and there are 11 up to the black belt” said Debbie.

By the time the three got to brown belt level, they were all involved in teaching karate to junior members.

At first sister Emma went as well - but now she prefers swimming.

It’s been a seven-year road up to black belt standard for the battling Barbers.

“It was just something we could do together” explained Debbie.

“It’s not as unusual as you might think. Our club in Broughton Astley has even got a grandma and granddaughter who do karate!”

Mum and dad both admit that learning all the new moves takes them longer than the kids.

Debbie explained: “We’re often saying’Tom, are we doing this right?’”

And the benefits for older starters like engineer Mark and parish council manager Debbie?

“It’s just a good way to keep fit and flexible” said Debbie. “It also gives you more confidence.”

But isn’t it violent?

“It’s a martial art” said Debbie. “But there are strict rules and it’s all about discipline and respect.”