Lifestyle

Pensioner pals take up karate and end up with black belts


These pensioners are cooler than all of us (Picture: SWNS)

These two pensioners are not only two of the oldest people in Britain to be awarded karate black belts, but they may be the only women of their age to do so.

Sheila Stewart, 72, and Isabel Murray, 77, took up karate in 2015 when Sheila began taking her grandchildren to classes.

The fighting fit duo, from Dalgety Bay, Fife, went through twelve grades, starting at white and reaching the coveted black belts.

Under the guidance of instructor Sarah Queen, who created a class for the pair to develop their skill, Sheila and Isabel were able to thrive.

The pensioners reached the highest martial arts rank after four years of honing their fighting techniques at the Japan Karate Shoto Federation in Fife, Scotland.

To honour the milestone, both were given black belts from Japan with their names embroidered on them.

Sheila, a gran-of-three and former hairdresser said: ‘My grandchildren do karate and I went along and Sarah was willing to do a class for seniors, so I thought I’d give it a go.

‘We were a bit hesitant about our first grading but she [Sarah] thought we could do it and we passed, so we did the next one.

‘It’s just gone on from there – it’s been amazing.’

Isabel and Sheila are among the oldest in Britain to achieve black belts in karate (Picture: SWNS)

Sheila didn’t fathom that they could go as far as they’ve done.

‘We never ever thought we’d get to the stage we’re at now,’ she added. ‘Words really fail me, it was just wonderful – we were ecstatic.

‘We couldn’t believe we’d got this far. If we could’ve done somersaults we would’ve done.’

Isabel, a former delivery driver, added: ‘It was exciting, something I never thought I’d achieve, but perseverance and hard work I got there – I’m quite happy.

‘At our age the brain sometimes likes to go to sleep.

‘It started off as fun and just a hobby, but we didn’t realise Sarah would take us further. It’s an achievement for her as well.’

‘It’s fun, exercise and a bit of self defence. People say “I don’t want to get on the wrong side of you now”.’

Despite achieving black belt status the pair show no sign of stopping.

Sarah, who coached Sheila and Isabel for four years, said: ‘They’ve been fun to teach.

‘They’ve had to learn a certain group of techniques and come in and do them, which can be quite daunting at that age.

‘They’ve progressed pretty quickly through it. I’m glad to see them achieving black belt.

Sarah, their instructors, runs a class for serniors where there are others between 50-60+ joining in (Picture: SWNS)

‘Originally it was never an aim to achieve black belt but I pushed them to achieve it as quickly as they could.

‘You need to encourage them to do some things but it’s been good for them and for me.’

Sarah adds that it’s quite common to see people starting karate in their late 60s-70s.

In 2015, Phyllis Rowley from Dudley, West Midlands became Britain’s oldest martial arts expert after achieving a black belt in karate aged 78.

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