MILLEDGEVILLE — History was made on Thursday, May 22 at Drouillard’s Karate Studio, as the school’s first mother-daughter combination in Mary Beth and Lindsey Atkinson tested and achieved the pinnacle black belt status on the same night.
It has been a long road for the pair, but both dedicated themselves to the task of reaching their black belt, as well as helping other students reach their full potential—ultimately leading to an emotional night on May 22.
The two not only participated in their own testing, but also volunteered to assist other students in their testing throughout the session.
“Mrs. Atkinson, the mother, was constantly on the floor going through testing with all the different belts and everything, and that’s a lot of work plus testing on your own,” studio instructor and owner Dewey Drouillard said. “Black belts have to do all the form moves; they have to demonstrate all the self-defense moves. They’ve got to demonstrate everything, so for her to go ahead and volunteer, and her and her daughter jump up and spar when it’s time to spar, they were a worn out pair when they got done. Just like mom said, she can look in her heart and say, ‘I earned this belt and nobody gave me nothing.’”
Mary Beth and Lindsey set the mood for the testing session, performing their form routine in unison in front of the entire school.
“They did a little demo during testing,” Drouillard said. “They started standing back-to-back, and then when they did their form they went through their whole form step-by-step with perfect timing and when they got done at ready-stance, they were both back-to-back. That was really cool because they had practiced it once or twice, and they came up to me and asked if I would let them do it. So, they didn’t really plan on doing it, and they didn’t know I was going to let them do it, but I said ‘go for it and make it look good.’”
Embracing each other after the final task, Drouillard admits it was a special site to see the mother and daughter’s expression following their breaking of the boards.
“The last thing they had to do was break boards and I let daughter break first, then when mom broke they just both turned around and hugged each other tremendously,” he said. “I mean, what an accomplishment—‘mom and me are both together.’”
Lindsey, now 11 years old, began her quest for the black belt in August of 2011—five months later mother Mary Beth, currently 43 years old, joined her daughter in the journey that culminated with both reaching their goal on May 22.
Ahead of her mother, Lindsey actually sat out two testing sessions to let Mary Beth catch up in rank so that the pair could test for their black belt together—sacrificing the glory of achieving her goal before her mother for the chance to experience it with her instead.
“Ms. Atkinson, the daughter, was two belts ahead of her mom, so theoretically she would have got the black belt and mom would have still been a red belt, but she sat out two testings so mom could catch her and they could get their black belt together,” Drouillard said. “I thought that was very nice of her to do that. That was really tremendous of her to do that; because, a lot of people would have wanted the glory of getting it ‘now’ and on time.”
With the full support of husband and father, Larry Atkinson, the pair made history, becoming the first mother-daughter combo at Drouillard’s Karate Studio to begin at while belt and go all the way to black belt at the same time.
“We’ve been here for twenty-five years and I don’t remember a mother-daughter combination going all the way through,” Drouillard said. “This is very unique, especially with a mother and daughter. Most of the time the father is the second member of the family or first member of the family with a son or daughter, but with a mother and daughter it’s highly unusual. It just doesn’t happen all the time. For both of them to be hungry for it is unique and outstanding, truthfully.”