AGE is no barrier to success, as six-year-old Alec Cross has proved.
The Farlington youngster has just become the youngest person in the UK to earn a black belt in taekwondo.
Alec worked through the gradings needed to achieve the rank in just over two years.
To get the black belt he had to perform a series of routines or ‘forms’ and complete a sparring challenge.
Alec said some of the moves he had to master were: ‘palm, punch, chop, side-kick, front-kick, jump, spin and spin-kicks’.
‘It’s great fun,’ he said.
Alec said a challenge where he had to break a piece of wood three-quarters of an inch thick was the most difficult part.
He said: ‘You have to smash it really hard and it hurts, because it’s really thick.’
Alec’s mum, Sandra Cross, said her son’s love of taekwondo started after they saw the sport at the London Olympics in 2012.
She said: ‘They had an area where children could practise and have a go.
‘He took to it straight away.’
The martial art has since become a family affair.
Mrs Cross and Alec’s brother, five-year-old Calan, also took up the sport at the start of the year and are currently at senior green belt level.
Mrs Cross said: ‘The fact that we can we can all do it together is really nice. It’s important to be able to defend yourself, it’s good exercise and we enjoy it.’
Alec trains twice a week with the TaeKwonDo Academy, which has classes at the Hillside and Wymering Centre in Paulsgrove.
Taekwondo comes from Korea and is a mixture of other martial arts including karate.
His instructor, Travis Bottriell, 25, said Alec had a gift for martial arts.
He said: ‘He’s a kinesthetic learner and seems to have a mind for physical things that many much older people don’t have.’
But getting his black belt doesn’t mean Alec can rest on his laurels.
Mr Bottriell said that while there were 10 levels below black belt there were also 14 ranks above it, and it could take 50 or 60 years to master them all.
He said: ‘It’s really just the start of your journey. Now Alec has got to work at perfecting everything he’s learned and taking it further.’