A young Keweenaw girl is celebrating an achievement today as she enters a martial arts ranking system.
Second grader Flora Reitz was recently awarded her first belt, and she is the first child under the age of 15 to receive a belt from the Keweenaw Jiu Jitsu Academy.
“It’s a grey and white belt. It’s my first belt that I’ve earned,” said 8 year old Flora, who’s been learning martial arts for some time.
“She’s been with us for a little over six months. She’s been training jiu jitsu overall for a year and a half and she’s also trained karate in the past, so this is a good transition,” said Jiu Jitsu instructor Stan Myaskovskiy, who says that the academy recently became eligible to participate in the children’s belt ranking system.
Myaskovskiy said, “Really excited because just a few months ago I was given the ability to start promoting the kids and working on belting them the way to blue belt.”
Green/black belt is the highest rank that a child can receive before reaching the age of sixteen when he or she would enter the adult ranking table.
Myaskovskiy said, “This builds confidence, it builds discipline. You know the goal is to never actually use this in the street but just knowing that you can defend yourself gives you a confidence unlike anything else.”
Flora says she has only had to defend herself against a sibling. “Well, I have had to get out of chokes from my brother. He likes to try to get me, and we like to wrestle.”
She also says that she’s looking forward to earning many more belts as part of the program.