For four young individuals, the culmination of years of training at the highest level paid off when they were each awarded one of the highest honors of martial arts – the black belt.

A.J. Cummings, 14 of Midlothian, Thomas Miller, 11 of Midlothian, Colin Dacy, 12 of Waxahachie and Maddee Bradford, 14 of Midlothian all received a black belt in American Tae Kwon Do on Feb. 8.

The word Tae Kwon Do itself is made up of three Chinese/Korean words: Tae, meaning to kick or jump; Kwon, meaning fist or hand; and Do, which means “the way.”

Loosely (if not literally), it can be thought of as “The Way of the Hand and Foot” according to the American Tae Kwon Do Association’s Website.

The quartet are members of Wade Buie’s Superkicks Karate where they became the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh members of Buie’s Superkick group to receive a black belt.

Jaemin Goh and Jake Goh were awarded black belts in June 2007, while Layla Buie, Wade’s daughter, earned hers in October 2007.

Buie, who is the head instructor, currently holds the rank of 3rd degree Black Belt in the art of American Tae Kwon Do, began his martial arts training at the Grand Prairie Community Center in 1979 at the age of 14, according to the Buie’s Superkicks Karate Website.

Cummings, Miller, Dacy and Bradford successfully earned  their first degree black belts after passing a grueling exam that tested their knowledge of fight techniques, self-defense, kicks and punches.

“It was pretty much everything you’ve learned since day one,” Miller said.

“It was pretty cool,” Cummings added. “It was most definitely intense. My adrenaline was going.”

The test was held at Buie’s building, where these four have trained countless days for this moment.

“The test was long and hard,” Dacy said.

“It was tiring, sweaty, painful and fun,” Bradford added. “It was so much more different than any test we’ve ever had.”

For Buie, seeing these for pass the test and achieve their dreams of obtaining a black belt was a special day.

“I’m almost teared up that day,” Buie said. “I think it was an emotional day. Especially for these two (A.J. Cummings and Maddee Bradford) who have been here since day one.”

Cummings and Bradford have been training under Buie since November 2003 and two of the original six martial arts students Buie had in his first training class. He often refers to this group as the fantastic six.

As for Dacy and Miller, they joined Buie’s training a year and a half ago after receiving training at other locations.

For all four of these young individuals their efforts stem from one source - their love of American Tae Kwon Do.

“I enjoy it ’cause I get out there and try my best, which makes me do the same in whatever I do,” Dacy said.

“This has been a neat experience,” Cummings added. “It was something new. I did the other sports and didn’t care for them as much as I did this.”

Along with having a good time, some of the students have also seen improvement with their health life.

“Now I’m fit,” Miller said. “Before I came here I was in bad shape. Now, I can do a whole lot of stuff I couldn’t do before.”

“I like it ’cause it’s healthy for you,” Bradford added. “Plus you can use it for the rest of your life, unlike other sports.”

Now that these four young individuals have achieved the honor of the black belt they must look towards what’s next for each of them.

Cummings, Dacy and Bradford all will go for the second degree black belt which will take up to two years to get. Miller is looking to take up MMA in hopes of one day becoming a UFC fighter.

As for Buie, he will continue to teach the fundamentals of American Tea Kwon Do and hope to continue helping his students reach the black belt level.

E-mail Anthony at anthony.davila@wninews.com