Gaining a black belt in Yushinkai Aikido has been years in the making for Arcadia Dix. The 18-year-old completed a series of tests on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2 to achieve the first level of the black belt, known as Shodan. Not only did Dix make it through the eight hours of intensive techniques and movements but the North-West teenager now holds two "internationally-ranked black belts". While her nerves were high ahead of the grading experience, Dix had been preparing for quite some time. "My father introduced me to Aikido [when I was 12]. It took me a while to warm up to it but it was mainly the people I stuck around for," Dix said. "It has definitely made me more confident and it has helped my self esteem. [Getting my black belt] means another step in my goal." Learning the ropes at Penguin Budo from instructors Jade Masters and Brad Palmer, Dix's grading was also performed under the watchful eye of international chief instructor, Peter Kelly. Detailing the rigorous nature of Yushinkai Aikido, Kelly said it was a mixture of mental and physical elements. "It's about control and controlling the spaces around you. Martial arts in general is about reading the room just as much as your ability to do something technical," Kelly said. "It's not just about physically remembering each body movement but remembering what each word means. If you're asked to do something it won't be in English but Japanese." Speaking on the grading experience Dix underwent, Masters said there was a lot to remember. "On Friday she did a lot of weapons work and had the chance to throw us around," Masters said. "Saturday was the really big day - Arcadia did something like 70 different techniques and a bit of Randori, which is a multiple attack. "It was really tough and it [the grading] was more of a body of work of everything she has done since she started." Masters, Palmer and Kelly agreed that Dix had a bright future in the Martial Art, encouraging her to continue working through the 10 levels of the black belt.