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A Neligh youth received an unexpected Christmas present this year, his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Thomas Johnson has been working towards his goal since 2012 when a YMCA class inspired him to begin taking classes.
Two days before Christmas The 12-year old received the news that he had earned his Black Belt, an honor that only about 1 in every 10,000 ever achieve.
"He had a couple of hiccups in the road," mother Christy said, "but he was determined to get this, so I have to really take my hat off to him for that."
"It was exciting, it was unexpected," Johnson said.
One of the challenges he has faced was having to find a new instructor. His mother said this transition from one style to another set him back about 8 months.
"He wanted to keep going, and I'm very proud of him for that," Christy said.
Johnson said that he has learned a lot from his current instructor, a 4th Degree Black Belt Master.
"She really explains things, like if it's a block she teaches you what it's for and how to use it," Johnson said.
There are 9 degrees of Black Belt from the 1st Degree all the way up to a 9th Degree Grand Master
Even though Johnson has reached his goal, he plans to continue and attend more tournaments to improve his rank.
Johnson said he has considered taking up Karate as well. Johnson is currently in 6th grade at Neligh-Oakdale.