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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 21:23 GMT
Nun earns karate black belt
Sister Rhonda Rice in action
Sister Rhonda began her learning karate in the convent's cellar
A 44-year-old nun has qualified as a karate black belt.

Sister Rhonda Rice is one of 16 nuns at All Hallows Convent at Ditchingham, Norfolk.

She started practising the martial art in the convent cellar three years ago.

But was later given permission to join a karate club.

"I had a place in the cellar under the refectory. I had a punch bag hanging-up, but it wasn't the same as joining a club.

Caught in the act

"I finally plucked-up the courage to ask the Reverend Mother if I could join a karate club and she said 'Yes'.

"I haven't looked back since," Sister Rhonda said.

The club was surprised to find its latest recruit was a nun.

Karate instructor Adrian Lyall said: "She went into the changing rooms and got changed and someone saw her in a habit.

Sister Rhonda Rice in convent
Sister Rhonda is embarrassed by the interest in her
"I said 'I can't believe it' she must be going to a fancy dress party.

"But then she said she worked at the convent. I thought 'That's a bit odd'.

"Then she said 'I'm a nun' and I was just really, really shocked."

Sister Rhonda said her next battle was getting used to the publicity surrounding her achievements.

"It's embarrassing. I'm threatening to go out with a balaclava on," she said.

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