7-year-old joins older brothers as black belt in karate

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

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SALISBURY — The Bristol Brothers have been practicing the discipline of martial arts for almost nine years at SideKick Karate in Salisbury. Tom, James, John and Michael — ages 19, 16, 14 and 12 — have all received their black belts and their 7-year old sister, Emily, has just joined the Bristol Family Black Belt Society. She was promoted to her Screaming Eagle Black Belt on March 13. That makes five black belts in one family.

Emily is the daughter of Dr. James and Claire Bristol of Rockwell. Emily started her karate in the fall of 2020 and attends the SideKick Karate after-school program. Her father explains how busy his daughter has been, “Not only does she participate in karate classes four times a week, she participates in pep squad and sings in the choir as a second grader at Sacred Heart Catholic School. She is enrolled in piano classes and Irish dance classes.”

Her mother adds, “The inner strength and physical discipline she is learning from marital arts is improving her overall confidence.”

Edie and Ricky Smith are the owners of SideKick Karate. Edie says, “Not only are they all black belts, but Tom and James are Eagle Scouts, John is working on his Eagle Scout, and Michael is a First Class Scout. They are all very disciplined and high achievers. Tom, John and James, are all 17-Kata Tomoe Holders.”

This is a karate test which you must perform with only three mistakes or less.

“They are all sparring, forms and weapons karate tournament champions, run track and cross country, play tennis and are competitive swimmers. James and John are in the National Honor Society and Tom attends N.C. State University maintaining an ‘A’ average,” Edie adds.

Ricky Smith, their karate Sensei, says, “This family is an example of what martial arts can do for kids. They learned to focus and reach goals at an early age through their karatedo discipline. They are not only good martial artists, they are exceptional in everything.”

Their father says, “My brothers and I did not have anything like this to do when we were growing up. Karate has elevated my children to a higher level of focus and discipline and I am very proud of all five of them.”

Edie Smith concludes, “It has been an awesome journey watching the Bristol students grow up in our dojo, bringing us so much joy and leaving us with countless memories.”