Three generations of family earn karate black belt

David, left, and Chris Ewing are put in their place by ten-year-old black belt Neve. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
David, left, and Chris Ewing are put in their place by ten-year-old black belt Neve. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Pity the burglar who tries to target the high-kicking Ewing family.

Not only would the intruder face karate master David Ewing, 57 – a fifth Dan guru – and his 34-year-old son and knockout champion Christopher, but also little Neve, who at ten is among the Capital’s youngest martial arts maestros.

The karate kid, who earned her black belt on Saturday, has created three generations of combat experts and sparking the burning question: is this Edinburgh’s hardest family?

It’s not a quandary anyone is brave enough to dispute, and as if three ninjas weren’t enough to contend with, Neve’s five-year-old sister, Maia, is quickly working her way through the karate rankings.

“It’s only a matter of time before there’s another one,” says grandad David, a karate disciple of 26 years.

The family passion for karate ignited when, aged six, Chris attended classes at Meadowbank.

A martial arts dynasty was born when his father decided he didn’t want to just watch from the sidelines.

“I thought, ‘if I’m going along there, I might as well join in’,” said David. “In the space of three years I actually achieved a first black belt.”

By the time he was 14, Chris had also won his first black belt, going on to win Scottish, British, European and Commonwealth championships. He has now achieved a fourth Dan.

“I don’t know any other families with three generations of black belts, and I know quite a few people in the karate world,” said Chris.

Karate is now the family business, with professional instructor Chris running nine clubs bearing his name across the Lothians and Borders from his home in Tranent.

And David and Chris’s wives are also involved, ruthlessly grappling with business memberships and paperwork.

Despite sharing the same passion, there hasn’t been any father-son rivalry between David and Chris. That harmony hasn’t extended to the younger generation, with Neve and Maia sometimes drawing on their karate skills to help settle the odd sibling quarrel.

“When they start arguing, there’s plenty of kicks and punches,” said Chris. “They’re not too bad, but from time to time I’ve got to split them up.”

And if they want something from their dad, the preferred tactic for Chris’s daughters is to gang up and try and pummel their dad into submission. But Chris said: “I can still show them how it’s done.”


NEVE Ewing isn’t the youngest person to attain a black belt in karate in Scotland.

Colin Clapperton, from the Scottish Karate Federation, says that children as young as eight have passed the exam, while the youngest person in the Lothians to reach second Dan – the next highest ranking within the black belt – is believed to be Chris Karpacz from Musselburgh, who passed the test in 2009 aged 14.

A black belt examination involves performing a series of kicks and punches to perfection in front of a five-person technical committee, who also test students on Japanese names for moves.