Merrin Foltz, an eighth grader at Middlebrook School, earned her third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do at a promotion board on Sunday, Jan. 24, at the All Saints School in Norwalk.

Merrin has been pursuing Tae Kwon Do instruction since she was 4, training at Karate Universe on Route 7 on the Norwalk/Wilton line. She followed her three older sisters, all second-degree black belts, in the martial arts, but Merrin is the first in her family to attain this higher belt.

In a test that included an essay, split, forms, weapons, breaking, and self-defense, the 85-pound girl fought two attackers and broke boards and concrete blocks before an audience of her karate classmates and their families. While many would think that breaking concrete blocks would be the hardest part of the test, Merrin said that accomplishing a full split was the part she worried the most about.

Merrin’s mother, Isabel Foltz, said that after raising four daughters in karate, she still can’t bear to watch the board and concrete breaking part of the test.

“Too painful to watch,” she said.

Merrin finished the test with no bleeding and only a slight limp, however.

“I thought I was bleeding at one point, but it turned out to be the blood of a classmate who had tested before me for his second degree.”

Merrin doesn’t think her achievement is a big deal, but she acknowledges that none of the classmates who started karate instruction with her made it this far.

Master Dean Theodorides, the owner and chief instructor at Karate Universe, joked that the older sisters should now “bow to Merrin” because of her higher degree distinction. The school has a tradition where the existing black belts form a line to shake the hands of the students who earn the same belts.

For Merrin, the line shrunk to just four people who have a third-degree belt, three of whom are professional instructors. Merrin, who is a certified instructor, intends to continue her training while helping with the instruction of young students four hours per week.