Four Chatham martial artists earn junior black belts

Apr. 02, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Four martial artists, including two brothers, earned their junior black belts when South Eastern Karate Association held its quarterly promotion exam in March.

Master Instructor Peggy Jolly, a seventh-degree black belt and the owner of the school, presented the belts and certificates. Jolly has been teaching martial arts in Siler City for more than three decades.

Shane and Calvin Conroy, Brandon Downs and Danny Willett got their junior black belts during the promotion exam.

Shane, 11, and Calvin, 8, trained the typical three to four years before receiving their black belts.

Shane wasn’t sure how long he would continue when he first walked into the school, but became friends with some of the other students and learned to appreciate how martial arts can improve your life in many different ways.

“I’ve learned a lot of discipline,” said Shane, who appreciates the exercise as well. “It’s helped me be able to listen and my manners have improved. Master Jolly is a really good teacher, so just listening to her has taught me a lot.”

Calvin also mentioned the value of exercise, but says self-defense is just as important. In fact, one of the essential things he’s learned is how to use blocks to keep from being hurt.

Calvin has worked hard on some of the more complex forms — choreographed patterns of techniques that help martial artists develop their skills. The longer, more intricate forms are challenging for younger students.

“I just try to concentrate and think about it,” he said.

Downs, 9, also said memorizing forms was one of the more difficult things he had to do.

But what did he enjoy the most? Fun night, one class after each promotion test where students take turns leading class.

“That’s what I like most and who doesn’t, really?” he said. “It’s your choice and I can lead walks like a bear, worm, snake or crab. It’s good for you.”

Willett, 10, said learning turning and jumping kicks has been the most challenging part of training, though many of the 50-some kicks in this Korean martial art have actually become his strengths.

But that’s not all he has learned. Like many of his colleagues, Danny says learning respect and self-discipline is just as important as mastering techniques. “You have to be serious,” he says, “and pay attention to be able to hear what the instructor says."

Classes at South Eastern Karate Association in Siler City are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays — with one class primarily for children from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and another class primarily for adults from 7-8:30 p.m. Details are available at