A Fife martial arts instructor has become one of only a handful of people in Scotland to achieve a top award in his chosen discipline.
Darren Clark was awarded a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in front of more than 50 of his students.
The 32-year-old from Kirkcaldy was presented the coveted belt by his ‘professor’, world champion Braulio Estima. Darren - who became a father for the first time two months ago - has now earned the right to be called ‘professor’ himself by those he teaches.
The award also makes him the only resident BJJ black belt in Fife.
But it’s all a far cry from his club’s early days in a Glenrothes sports hall some 15 years ago.
Darren’s dad Dave Clark - who has already got a BJJ black belt after more than 30 years in the sport - ran a club in an industrial warehouse with just a handful of students.
It was particularly grim in the winter when ice would form on the inside of windows and the heating rarely worked.
Darren has since upgraded his gym and now runs Gracie Barra Fife, one of Scotland’s most successful BJJ teams - based at the Mitchelston Industrial Estate, in Kirkcaldy.
His students regularly collect gold medals at UK wide events and flies the flag for Scotland at some of the world’s biggest martial arts tournaments.
He explained he now hopes to conduct joint seminars with Dave - the first father and son to do so in the Scotland - whenever his dad is back home from the Middle East where he is based.
British champion Darren said: “It’s been a crazy couple of months for me with the birth of my daughter and the black belt presentation. I’ve been striving for this moment for more than 12 years and it’s very special.
“There are not many black belts in Scotland and none who reside in Fife, until now. I’m hoping to use it as a springboard to get more people into the sport because it changes lives for the better.
“The popularity of BJJ has gone through the roof thanks to UFC superstars like Connor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov and we even have Fife-based fighters who have made it on the big stage. This can only be great for the sport and show local people that anything is possible if they put their mind to it.”
“All fights in the UFC octagon start on the feet but invariably finish on the ground when BJJ or ‘Jits’ techniques are often used.”
- Gracie Barra Fife runs classes every night with competition training every Friday and Sunday. For more information visit the club Facebook page or call Darren Clark on 07783 668609