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Sheriff receives black belt

Although most people go home and tend to their pets after a hard day at the office, our sheriff has a different type of hobby.

Diane Harris has been studying KarateDo, and this week she was presented her certification as a Black Belt, first degree.

Making the presentation to her, dressed in a ceremonial gee, was her instructor, Hanshi Dave Shelton.

Shelton, a registered and certified Soke/Supreme Grandmaster, has been teaching Harris the ancient Okinawan art of Close-Combat and Oriental Weapons for more than five years.

"Beginning in 1995, Diane trained and certified in 10 levels to earn her Black Belt," said Shelton. "We have conducted her training at various locations, ranging from parks to our clubhouse in Sylacauga, called a Hombu (home base dojo)."

Shelton, himself a 10th degree Black Belt and Chief Instructor of Shorin ryu Matsumura Soken Do, began his study in 1965, under Grand Master Hohan Soken of Okinawa, Japan.

Shelton was the second American to receive an instructor's certificate from Soken, and is the founder of the Shorin Ryu Matsumura Soken Do.

"Diane has been a model student, and she has really worked hard to get where she is today," Shelton said.

"It is an extreme honor to have this degree bestowed on me," Harris said. "But I won't lie to you, it was hard work, and after testing last weekend, I think I would have needed to get better to die-I am still aching in places that don't ordinarily ache.

"Martial Arts has been used for centuries as a form of self-discipline and defense," Harris said. "Law enforcement officers combine many different styles and disciplines of it in their every day duties, and I have simply chosen this one, because it appealed to me."

The certificate presented to Sheriff Harris reads: "Certificate of Rank, International Matsumura Seito Society-Diane Harris has satisfactorily completed Karatedo Training and is hereby awarded the coveted Karatedo rank of Sho Dan (1st grade Black Belt), by Hanshi Dave Shelton, SoKE/10th Dan Supreme Grandmaster."