VERNON — Nine students from the Vernon Valley Karate Academy put their skills, strength and determination on the line as they tested for Black Belt rank on May 20. Each student demonstrated proficiency in all of the necessary aspects of this martial art. This included performing kata, prearranged forms that demonstrate karate technique, kumite, sparring against other black belt level students, and application of their skills in self-defense situations. Sensei Shull, owner and head instructor at the Vernon Academy commented, “All of my candidates rose to the occasion and made me so very proud. After years of preparation and commitment, these students found that they have what it takes to achieve the coveted rank of Black Belt. I praise their commitment, devotion, spirit, and strength.”Promoted to the rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) were: Frank Antonini, Beth Sanders, Paul Doumanis Jr., Zachary Trost, and Cody Williams. Promoted to Nidan (2nd degree black belt) was Talia Jean Borkowski. Promoted to Sandan (3rd degree black belt) was Monica McGovern. Promoted to the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) were Jose Gomez and Paul Doumanis.