A MARTIAL arts enthusiast has become the first person in Sunderland to earn a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Aaron Naisbet was given with the accolade in a special ceremony in Cheltenham.
The 38-year-old, from Hylton Castle, said: “Becoming a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu isn’t the same as in karate because there are no tests.
“There’s only four belts – blue, purple, brown and black – and you only move up to the next belt when your instructor decides you’re ready.
“It’s taken me 11 years to get my black belt and I’m over the moon with it. As there’s no way to really know when it’s coming, it’s always a bit of a surprise when you move up.
“I was presented with the belt by Ricardo Vieira who’s a nine-times world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so it was a great honour. I’ve trained with him and he decided to move me up to the black, so it was even better.”
It takes an average of 10 to 12 years to earn a black belt in the martial art form.
Aaron began training with Ricardo in 2004 and travelled to Brazil every year to visit his famous academy, Ricardinho in Rio de Janeiro.
This is the fourth black belt that Aaron has earned, having already made the grade in Shotokan karate, Goju-rya karate and his own style of martial arts Okinawan-boxing, which he has just had certified.
Aaron, who teaches martial arts at The Dungeon in Castle View, Castletown, said: “It’s all about putting a brand on your teaching style.
“There are only so many ways you can punch and kick, but having your own style is about your training methodology.”
As well as four black belts, Aaron also holds two European titles.
He said: “It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’m pleased it’s all paid off. It’s such an honour to be given the belt.”