Determination has driven Louis Sardyga to earning a blackbelt in karate

Determination is what has pushed Grose Vale's Louis Sardyga to being awarded his black-belt in karate after 20 years of training.

The 29-year-old trains out of the Sammyroo School of Freemans Reach where he is taught the Szlagowski branch of the sport.

Blackbelt: Years of dedication and hard work have paid off for Grose Vale's
Louis Sardyga, who has been awarded a blackbelt in karate. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Blackbelt: Years of dedication and hard work have paid off for Grose Vale's Louis Sardyga, who has been awarded a blackbelt in karate. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Louis has down syndrome which is why it has taken him a longer period of time to reach the high level of karate.

Originally welcomed in to the school by Master John Cook, who founded it in August 1989, Louis quickly fell in love with the sport.

"Karate has been a massive part of his life as he has done it for 20 years," said Louis' mother Kerrie.

"It's also a health aspect 'cause these kids can get very big but Louis has his practice area and he will come home and practice.

"It's been a great discipline and it has been great for his health, his coordination and it has just been a win-win."

Sadly Master Cook passed away earlier this year and the school was taken over by his friend Steve Erixon who helped found and build the school.

"We would've really liked to have John here to see Louis be awarded his black-belt because it would've meant a lot to him and to all of us since he was the one who welcomed Louis in to the school," said Kerrie.

Karate has made up a large part of Louis' life as he trains at least three times a week as well as a day at Active8 Gym at Richmond Club.

"Louis will train in the seniors group at the school," said Steve.

"But he comes along each night and helps with the juniors, holding the bags to teach them some basic moves.

"That is a part of his progress and growth to becoming a black-belt, to actually be able to teach what he has learnt himself."

Master and student: Steve Erixson with Louis Sardyga. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Master and student: Steve Erixson with Louis Sardyga. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Everyone has seen improvements in Louis' day-to-day abilities as he has progressed in karate.

"Louis is quite quick and once he knows what he has to do he is quite efficient and quick, he doesn't do it slowly, once he knows, he's away," said Steve.

Louis has learnt a large variety of the discipline.

"We train by breaking bricks and tiles," said Steve.

"We spar each night, we do our katas, our forms, our basic technique and then we will do some self defence and weaponry.

"We don't really compete in this style, it's more self defence."

Louis holds a job at Cafe Relish in Richmond where he helps clean the tables and do different jobs around the cafe.

"He has gradually gone and gotten more skills, he has done skills courses to help develop," said Kerrie.

"It has been great since it means he has something to do which is very important.

"If they don't have something to do it can be very demoralising and they can get very down.

"But if they have a job to go to and a reason to get up and get dressed and go do something that makes them feel apart of the world ... Louis loves it."

Kerrie credits Steve and John's teaching ability for why Louis has been able to excel in the sport.

"Steve has been tremendous ... It's not easy to teach a kid with different skills in a class," she said.

"He's found a way around it and has just kept plodding on and kept trying and if some way of teaching Louis didn't work then he would find another way around it.

"I think they all love Louis up there and they have a good time.

"He started in primary school and that's when John welcomed him in.

"He could see that Louis could do it and that he just needed a little more guidance ... he was very encouraging.

"In some ways he needs to learn a unique way but in some other ways he could keep up.

"Louis' greatest blessings are that number one he has really good health and number two he can remember.

"Louis remembers and if you have a good memory it makes it better.

"Especially since some of the sequences they do are quite long and I thought 'oh my goodness how is he going to remember this'.

"But he can remember, so I think he is lucky to have it and it has served him well, because if he couldn't remember the sequence he wouldn't have been able to get really far."

Proud: Louis being awarded his black-belt at Freemans Reach Public on Saturday, November 23. Picture: Supplied.

Proud: Louis being awarded his black-belt at Freemans Reach Public on Saturday, November 23. Picture: Supplied.

Karate has given Louis more than just skills.

"It's also a social thing which is very good for him," said Kerrie. "It has given him a whole group of friends.

"It has made him confident because its something that he can do. He has never used it in an incorrect manner, which Steve is very strict on.

"It's made him fitter and healthier which I see as incredibly important. The teaching boosts his self-esteem. They have to find something that they can do and this is something that he could always do.

"We did try other sports. He tried soccer and he got really good at going the one way and we had it all worked out but it really all fell apart after halftime when you go the other way ... that really stuffed it. So Louis would be scoring goals for the opposite team in the second half.

"We tried horse riding, we went to riding for the disabled but Louis didn't see any sense in just riding around the paddock."

Louis received his black-belt at his school, Freemans Reach Public School, on Saturday, November 23.

Louis, his family and Steve were incredibly excited for him to receive his black-belt after a determined 20 years in karate.

Black-belts: Louis with some of his class mates as they are awarded with black-belts. Picture: Supplied.

Black-belts: Louis with some of his class mates as they are awarded with black-belts. Picture: Supplied.

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