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Two new black belts at Dunbar BlackBelt Academy in Forres


By Garry McCartney

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Lennon Porter and Gary Mackintosh who recently gained their black belts.
Lennon Porter and Gary Mackintosh who recently gained their black belts.

A LOCAL martial arts school has produced two new black belts.

Dunbar BlackBelt Academy – based on the Greshop Industrial Estate – offers taekwon-do instruction to age specific classes: four to six-year-old Little Ninjas; seven to nine-year-old Kicking Kids; 10 to 12-year-old junior taekwon-do and adults.

And 4th degree taekwon-do black belt and instructor for more than 15 years, Maree McDonough, is proud to announce that two of her students recently passed examinations to earn black belts.

She said: “Lennon Porter (16) and Gary Mackintosh (43) have 17 years combined training. Both had obstacles and challenges to overcome along the way which only strengthened them.

“They set a great example of what can be done and we couldn’t be prouder.”

Lennon Porter 1st degree black belt...Dunbar Black Belt Academy in Forres...Picture: Becky Saunderson..
Lennon Porter 1st degree black belt...Dunbar Black Belt Academy in Forres...Picture: Becky Saunderson..

Forres Academy student Lennon has trained with Dunbar for 11 years, progressing through the junior programmes.

Lewis, Sam, Toby and Ella with dad 1st Degree Black belt Gary Mackintosh.
Lewis, Sam, Toby and Ella with dad 1st Degree Black belt Gary Mackintosh.

Civil engineer Gary has trained at Dunbar for nearly seven years, leading the way for fellow martial artists, daughter Ella (11), and sons Lewis (13), Sam (9) and Toby (4).

Maree said: “They are affectionately known as Team Mack! The younger members’ eyes are now well and truly on dad’s black belt.

“Having accepted that if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em, Gary’s wife Joanna has now joined the new adult beginner class along with several other parents.”

Black belt members Donna McLean 2nd degree, Gary Mackintosh 1st degree, Alan Thomson 4th degree, Lennon Porter 1st degree, Barry Scrimgeour 3rd degree and Maree McDonough 4th Degree.
Black belt members Donna McLean 2nd degree, Gary Mackintosh 1st degree, Alan Thomson 4th degree, Lennon Porter 1st degree, Barry Scrimgeour 3rd degree and Maree McDonough 4th Degree.

Dunbar BlackBelt Academy moved from Kinloss to the Forres in 1983. Owner and founder Master Sandy Dunbar, 8th Degree, now runs Inverness Taekwon-do Dunbar Blackbelt Academy.

Byron Johnson.
Byron Johnson.
Fletcher Preston.
Fletcher Preston.

Dunbar children’s sections students achieve belt stripes for teamwork, fitness, kicking, control, balance, discipline and more, graduating up to new belts. Teenagers and adults take part in “pure” taekwon-do classes involving sparring, patterns, power test and self defence.

Sienna Cook.
Sienna Cook.
Arran Dingwall.
Arran Dingwall.

Students also learn the tenets of taekwon-do: building blocks which instil and promote spiritual and philosophical aspects such as courtesy, integrity, perseverance and self control.

“The importance of this moral framework has been shown no more so than this last year and a half,” said Maree. “Navigating lockdown has been challenging but we have worked hard to provide our students with as much support as possible.”

Younger members of Dunbar Black Belt Academy in Forres.
Younger members of Dunbar Black Belt Academy in Forres.
The Junior Taekwon-do section.
The Junior Taekwon-do section.

During lockdown, Dunbar organised one-to-one, fitness and mixed class sessions online, then outdoor classes once restrictions eased. Full-time classes have been running since April.

The Academy now has nearly 100 students training and waiting list for new members to start classes.

“The popularity of taekwon-do is booming,” Maree added. “After both lockdowns we have had waiting lists for all classes and at the moment we have over 100 students training. Students and parents say we are their taekwon-do family. Our club has loyalty, inclusion, opportunity and development for all at its heart.”

Dr Alan Thomson 4th degree black belt.
Dr Alan Thomson 4th degree black belt.
Donna McLean 2nd degree black belt.
Donna McLean 2nd degree black belt.
Ella Mackintosh at Dunbar Black Belt Academy.
Ella Mackintosh at Dunbar Black Belt Academy.


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