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By Pete Bryant
June 17, 2011

AN EIGHT-year-old girl from Aldershot became one of the youngest people in the country to achieve black belt in mixed martial arts on Sunday.

Toni Bridgeland passed the gruelling three-hour examination process at Blackwater Academy after three-and-a-half years at Precision Martial Arts school.

Having attending classes in Aldershot and Camberley, Toni was tested on fitness as well as martial arts routines.

She and her classmates were watched by martial arts experts along with her mentor Master Paul Bernard, WPKA World Kickboxing Champion and Sky One’s Fight School champion.

Although it is uncertain whether she is the youngest black belt graduate to come through the school, Precision can find no record of any younger student to have achieved this.

The journey to becoming a black belt required Toni, of Sebastopol Road, Aldershot, to train three times a week for two hours a night.

Toni’s father, Peter, revealed it was the influence of he and wife Debbie that convinced her to take up martial arts aged just five.

“I had seen the confidence martial arts can give to young people and with that confidence you can do almost anything in life,” he said.

“She is very disciplined at her classes but also very controlled, and when she comes home she is just a lovely girl.”

Nicknamed Toni the Tiger, she is the youngest in her class at Precision. She also attends a fight club on Friday nights, stepping into the ring to face opponents often much older than her, and already has six trophies and three medals to her name.

“We’ve sorted her out a two-day trip to Chessington World of Adventures as a reward,” added Mr Bridgeland. “As soon as she comes back she has said she wants to start training for her 2nd dan, and of course we’re 100% behind her.”

Source: get Hampshire