A karate instructor and his students are celebrating after picking up five medals at European karate championships.
Mark Purcell, who runs South Tyneside Yamaguchi GoJu Kai Karate Academy, at Perth Green Community Association, in Jarrow, travelled to Norfolk with his pupils for the eighth European GoJu-Kai karate Championships.
The 41-year-old, who has been practicing martial arts since he was 17, brought home a bronze in the kata event and was also awarded his 5th Dan by Grand Master Shiko Shihan Goshi Yamaguchi and the European GoJu Kai Shihans.
He said: “My pupils have competed lots of times in competitions throughout South Tyneside but this was their first big contest so it was very exciting for everyone.
“It’s the European championships but also a big karate seminar, so lots of the students went along to take part.
“The parents came too and they could go off and do their own thing but once they started watching the seminars they couldn’t take their eyes off it.”
Even the ones who didn’t come away with medals are winners to me because it takes real guts to get out their on the mat and compete against other people from across Europe.Mark Purcell
Mark, from Calf Close, Jarrow, took over the class in 1997 when he was a brown belt. His new 5th Dan status means that he’s the highest ranking GoJu Kai Karate instructor in the North East and third in the country.
He added: “The pupils and parents absolutely loved it, it was a great experience for them and I’m really proud of them all.
“Even the ones who didn’t come away with medals are winners to me because it takes real guts to get out their on the mat and compete against other people from across Europe.
“Doing karate has lots of benefits. Not only are they learning a martial art, but they’re gaining confidence and learning how to defend themselves, and going to the European championships to compete was a huge confidence booster for everyone who took part.
“Hopefully, we’ll be going along again next time.”
Mark runs karate classes at Perth Green on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and at Attic Studios, in Jarrow, on Fridays. They are open to children aged four through to adults. Anyone hoping to get involved can turn up or contact the centres.