CANNING Vale’s Ramon Lawrence has become the first Australian to become a seventh Dan in the swordsmanship sport of seitei iaido at the age of 71.
He has spent the past 30 years doing the sport and has been doing mixed martial arts for 56 years.
His son Russell has also just become a sixth Dan, one of only three in the country.
Ramon passed his exam on November 19, the National Examinations, held at the Edogawa Sports Centre, Tokyo while Russell achieved his earlier this year.
In order to become the sixth or seventh Dan, one must travel to Japan to take a six-minute exam demonstrating their skills in the sport and with their swords.
According to Ramon, there is an 8 per cent pass rate and it took him 10 attempts in order to do it, while Russell had five goes at becoming the sixth Dan.
Dan means a Black Belt rank, the higher the number the higher the grade.
The top grade in seitei iaido is currently 8th Dan but this is not available to foreigners as yet.
Each time they had to travel to Japan.
Ramon said one of the main things he got out of doing martial arts was concentration and commitment.
“It’s all about the journey, the achievements are just a dot point so other people can understand,” he said.
“When I passed, hundreds of people sent me emails congratulating me from all around the world, all within 30 minutes of passing.”
He said he started getting into martial arts 56 years ago when he joined the navy and he was boxing.
“It was compulsory and I didn’t like being hit so I went on to become the navy boxing champion by knocking them all out,” he said.
Along with seitei iaido he also has been involved in judo and was on the shortlist for Australia to go to the 1972 Olympics. He founded the Budokan Academy in Canning Vale and is trained in 11 martial arts.
Ramon also teaches in Canning Vale and around the world. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 2011 Australia Day Honours for his service to martial arts.
When Russell – a former City of Gosnells councillor – became a sixth Dan, that made their dojo Budokan one of the most powerfully trained dojos in Australia.
The 52-year-old will need to wait another six years to do the seventh Dan, as he will need to become eligible.
He said his gaining a sixth Dan and his father a seventh was a big thing for Australian martial arts.