Pupil ready to fight for black belt

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She may have only started competing in karate a few years ago, but Ella Mercer-Black has already got her eye on a black belt.

Ella (16) recently attended a national karate competition in Wellington and came home with two medals.

She won a silver medal in kumite and a bronze in kata.

Kumite involves fighting an opponent to score more points than them, while for kata, competitors perform a routine.

She said she found kata more difficult, as she was competing against more people, but she said it could vary depending on the tournament.

“Sometimes you just have a bad day in one or the other.”

Kata was performed individually, which meant it could be more nerve-wracking, she said.

She was surprised to win a silver and a bronze, as most athletes have usually been competing for three to five years before they won a medal.

Ella has only been competing for two and a-half years.

The Columba College pupil took up karate about five years ago with a friend as something fun to do. Now, she trains five days a week, or 11-12 hours, and increases it to 15 hours if she is preparing for a competition.

She is part of the Otago Goju Ryu Okinawa-Kan and said while it was sometimes hard to balance training with school work, she planned to stick with karate.

Later in the month, she will attempt to upgrade her brown belt to a black belt.