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January 08, 2014 - Ryan Berry of Davisburg finished the year 2013 by achieving a long-time goal, earning his Black Belt in karate after four years of work.

"I'm very proud of him," said Hayme Serrato, his teacher and Seventh Degree Black Belt. "He's actually very good. He's worked hard. I'd like to get him on the competitive team if I could."

Berry, 9, received his Black Belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean style martial art, on Dec. 14 at Hayme Serrato Martial Arts in Ortonville.

With him were his parents, Julie and Kurt Berry, and his brother, Blake, who will receive his Black Belt in June. Ryan is a fourth grade student at Springfield Plains Elementary.

"His father and I are so proud," Julie said. "He has done this for four continuous years and accomplished this, learning karate and Korean terminology. He likes being real physical, and it helps with his balance, power, and focus in school."

Ryan trains three times a week at the studio, and up to every day in the summer. Training includes more than what to do and how to do it.

"When to use techniques is a very important part of the training," Serrato said.

It's never for use against the helpless, Ryan said.

"It's to defend people," he said."He teaches us right way, showing us how to do it. He's taught me a lot of discipline. I enjoy it. I'm never bored."

Ryan learns techniques and forms for blocking, punching, and kicking against up to three opponents, as well as weapons. He likes learning to wield a set of kama, a traditional martial arts, sickle-type weapon.

"I chose these because I like how there are two of them in case I lose one, I have another," he said.

His goals include continuing to train for more advanced Black Belts and helping others learn karate.

"Maybe until I'm at least 30, I think," he said.

His awards include first place in forms, 2011 HSMA Invitational; third place in forms and sparring, 012 HSMA Invitations; Academic Excellence Award for all A's in school for 2011, 2012, and 2013; and second place for 8-9 year olds, 2013 HSMA 5K race for Team USA.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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