Rachel Fairbank, 5th degree black belt

To read on Local 12 website:

Woman with Down syndrome is 5th degree black belt

Rachel Fairbank

Getting a black belt is no easy task, but a woman with Down syndrome has put in all the years of hard work and is now a fifth-degree black belt. Rachel Fairbank, 38, can now be called « master » because of the accomplishment. (KUTV)

LAYTON, Utah (KUTV) – Getting a black belt is no easy task, but a woman with Down syndrome has put in all the years of hard work and is now a fifth-degree black belt.

Rachel Fairbank, 38, can now be called « master » because of the accomplishment.

« I just really like it, » she said. « I love it. »

According to her master, Johnny Aranda, he has never met a fifth-degree black belt across the country with Down syndrome.

« Never ever in my life. I’ve never seen one to this day, » Aranda said.

Master Aranda is heading to a world championship competition and is a seventh-degree black belt.

He has been teaching for 45 years and currently teaches mixed martial arts in his USA Karate Studio in Layton, Utah.

Fairbank’s mother brought her to the studio 20 years ago, thinking she might like karate.

« I thought that she would really love it and she really did, » said Marsha Fairbank. « She just took to it right away and once she started coming, she wanted to keep coming back. »

Fairbank admits she was pretty scared at first, but she was not about to give up.

« I didn’t know anybody, » she said. « I didn’t want to quit because I really like doing martial arts. »

« I knew that something about her was special–the way she was talking to me, the way she was acting, » said Aranda.

Fairbank’s parents have seen a huge difference in her over the past 20 years.

« It helped her tremendously, » said Tom Fairbank. « It’s helped her with her social skills; it’s helped her with confidence. »

And Fairbank earned every notch on her black belt.

(…)

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