Black belt Ella is top of fight club

Two pupils at Stanah Primary School now have black belts in Taekwondo.  Katie Masters, 10, is a 2nd dan and Ella Heyes, 7, is a 1st dan.  Pictured is Ella Heyes.
Two pupils at Stanah Primary School now have black belts in Taekwondo. Katie Masters, 10, is a 2nd dan and Ella Heyes, 7, is a 1st dan. Pictured is Ella Heyes.
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At the tender age of seven little Ella Heyes is already a force to be reckoned with.

The Year Three pupil at Stanah Primary School has just been awarded a black belt in Taekwondo - one of the youngest in the world to receive such an honour.

But Ella, who has a two-year-old sister Poppy, had a headstart in the world of martial arts.

Her dad, Lee, 41, is a seventh dan master and mum Laura is a second dan.

In fact, Ella’s dad was British Taekwondo champion when he was 13-years-old.

Ella, of Chequers Way, Thornton, was immersed in the world of Taekwondo from such an early age that she could count to ten in Korean before she mastered English numbers.

She was just three-and-a-half years old when she took up the discipline and soon began to shine.

Now she will spend the next couple of years training and studying for her first dan qualification.

The couple teach Taekwondo to pre-school and after-school clubs throughout the North West, including Ella and her classmates.

Mum Laura said: “Ella couldn’t wait to get started.

“We follow the Korean tradition of Taekwondo and, as a result, Ella could count in Korean at the age of two.

“Taekwondo is a great discipline for children.

“It is similar to other martial arts but involves more kicking. It teachers children self-control and helps to keep them fit at the same time.

“Children have to work through the different dans gradually and can only reach Master level at a minimum age of 21.

“Ella was a natural and because she has grown up watching her dad and me teaching classes, she was always very keen to get involved.

“Normally, we would only start teaching children at the age of four, but it was Ella was so keen to get involved that she started early.

“Now her sister Poppy is showing an interest in taking part herself.”

Fellow Stanah pupil Katie Masters, 10, was awarded her second dan belt.

The previous youngest UK black belt holder was nine-year-old Toby Walker, from Hyde, Cheshire.

Six-year-old Prateek Alkesh, from India, is the world’s youngest karate black belt holder. He started training at the age of three.

The creation of Taekwindo dates back to 1946.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea the practice of traditional Korean martial arts was prohibited.

New martial arts schools called kwans were opened in the capital Seoul.

These schools were established by Korean martial artists who had studied primarily in Okinawa and China during the Japanese occupation. Accordingly, the martial arts practiced in the kwans was heavily influenced by shotokan karate and Chinese martial arts.