SHE may be small, but Mia-Jayne Atherton has already made a big impact in the world of martial arts.
Mia-Jayne, nicknamed the Mighty Atom, has joined the elite ranks of her chosen sport of ju-jitsu after becoming a black belt at the age of just eight.
The Leigh martial arts expert, who attends Twelve Apostles Primary School, earned the prestigious belt by demonstrating the full range of ju-jitsu throws, techniques and some ability to handle a weapon as well as showing knowledge of the sport’s Japanese terminology.
Mia-Jayne started training at Leigh Ju-Jitsu when she was four to improve her self-defence and quickly ascended through the ranks of the sport with her strength and skill.
It was also a double celebration for the club as Mia-Jayne’s friend Thomas Hill, nine, also passed his black belt grading on the day.
Proud mum Jane, 37, said: “I’m still on a high from her immense achievement, anyone would think I had done it.
“Both pupils have worked extremely hard training for this, with extra sessions and preparations. Ju-jitsu has given these young children lots of confidence.
“We started taking her to ju-jitsu because we thought in this day and age it was ideal to have some self defence techniques.
“The instructors have put in hours of training, and we hope these successes will inspire other young children and encourage them to attend the sessions.”
Mia-Jayne has been training under the tuition of club owner Sensei Alan Francis, and now hopes to go on and assist him in teaching some of the club’s younger pupils.
Her preparation for the black belt grading involved learning to handle a bo staff, a six-foot long wooden stick, as well as writing essays on the history and traditions of the Japanese martial art.
She also comes from a sporting household, spending her time when not honing her skills in martial arts playing as a defender for Leigh Genesis football club in their junior set up.
Her sister Chloe is also a member of the Genesis club as well as playing rugby for Astley St Mary’s Catholic High School.
While their brother Ethan, three, will also hope to add to the family successes when he begins ju-jitsu training shortly. Training takes place at Leigh Ju-Jitsu Self Defence Studio, on Findley Street on Wednesday and Friday evenings.