Dying karate teacher achieves black belt

(Chris Jones/Newshub.)
(Chris Jones/Newshub.)

Peter Clifton-Sprigg is at the end of his life. He has terminal throat cancer that has spread to his spine.

Every day is clouded by pain which makes even the simplest tasks challenging but the west Auckland karate teacher isn't letting anything stop him from passing on the art form to his students or stop him from achieving one of his last goals - a black belt.

The pain is crippling, to the point where the during his black belt exam he was asked three times by the grading senseis if he wanted to quit.

But quitting isn't Mr Clifton-Sprigg's style.

So at the weekend, he was awarded his black belt, a moment he has been dreaming of.

"It means everything, it really means the world to me because karate is the thing that has really spurred me on, it has changed my mind set, it has enabled me to inspire and to bring out what is inside on the outside."

Despite the fact that the cancer had even more of a hold on his body than he realised, Mr Clifton-Sprigg battled on.

"It was an extremely painful experience for me personally and that's because unbeknown to me that I've got not only more lesions on my back but also large growth of the cancer."

His mantra is to inspire others through his actions, he wants people to live the best life they can.

"I would say to everybody, everybody watching that whatever you want to do in life is possible, if you haven't got a leg, it might not be possible to kick but I've seen people without arms in the ring winning tournaments. So it's NOT a case of what you can't do, it's a case of what you can do. Fight for your dream, your dream is worth fighting for."

The karate teacher has faced his illness head on, deciding from the beginning that he would continue to live the life he loved. In the time since his diagnosis last year, he has built his own coffin and decided to honour the sport he loves by being buried in his gi [karate uniform].

Dying karate teacher won't give up on his students