High-kicking karate kids will be flying the flag for England at European championships later this year.
The dedicated squad are honing their skills at the Kazen Kai Academy, at Fitness 2000, Roker, ahead of the WUKF European Championships in Italy.
Among the team members are Amelia Robson, nine, from South Hetton; Rachel Young, 10, from Gateshead; Sean Gorringe, 10, from Farringdon; Jess Walsh, nine, from Washington; Cameron Roper, nine, from Washington and Leah Potts, 16, from Durham.
Sensai Ed Gillespie, a 6th dan and former England All Styles international champion, says he thinks they have what it takes to bring the title home.
“At the minute we have the strongest squad we’ve ever had,” said Ed, who is joint national coach and regional coach for the English United Karate Federation.
He added: “Their dedication is amazing. They don’t just train once or twice a week, it’s every other night.
“As well as martial arts skills, they train like athletes.
“They’re incredibly disciplined, and it’s a discipline which they can take into other areas of their life, like schoolwork.”
The squad will compete against some of the best martial artists in the world at the WUKF European Championships in October.
The event takes place in Montichiari, not far from Milan in the north of the country.