'Karate has helped me in more ways than I expected'
● By Steven Hoffman
Liam Doyle started training in the martial arts at McCormick Karate Academy less than three years ago, but here he is on a sunny summer afternoon making the final preparations to test for his brown belt, a major milestone.
Doyle, 14, trains several times a week in kickboxing, the Haganah self-defense system, and Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. Students typically learn several different styles under the tutelage of Sean McCormick, Jr. and his team of trainers.
“It's great to have a variety when you're training,” Doyle said. “It gives you different things to work on.”
Classes involve everything from training in forms to physical fitness. In addition to the physical benefits, students say that they achieve improved focus and mental discipline through the training.
“I like the mental aspects of it,” Doyle said. “I think it goes a long way toward helping make you a good person. Karate has helped me in more ways than I expected. It's a great thing to do.”
Mark Gray, 10, started training at McCormick Karate Academy in January of this year. He had previous experience training in the martial arts, and likes to learn self-defense techniques.
He is inspired by some of his martial arts teachers, and said that he would like to eventually attain the level of fourth-degree black belt because that's the level that some of the trainers are really at.
Gray said that the teachers make sure that the students correct their mistakes in forms.
“The teachers really care about you,” Gray said. “Sometimes, they are a little strict, but that's just because they care about you.”
Maddie Welch, 10, has been studying martial arts for about two years. Before studying martial arts, she tried several other sports, including soccer, dance, and gymnastics. But she enjoys the martial arts because of the physical and mental benefits.
“It's not just kicking and punching,” Welch explained. “You're being taught discipline and respect.”
Respect is a very important concept for the 170 or so students in the various classes at McCormick Karate Academy—respect for others, respect for each other, and self-respect.
While McCormick enjoys teaching every age group, he said that the Junior Intermediate Group—comprised of nine-to-eleven-year-olds—might be his favorite because the students are old enough to be influenced by the teaching, but still young enough to have a childish exuberance for everything that they do.
Welch, a member of the Junior Intermediate Group, proudly noted that she will be a part of the first class of black belts that have studied under Sean McCormick, Jr. She spends about five hours a week in training, and so far, she has progressed to an orange belt. At one of the tournaments that she competed in, she was the grand champion in forms. In addition to the physical and mental benefits of martial arts training, she likes the closeness that everyone feels in the family-oriented karate academy.
“When you walk through those doors, you're part of a family,” Welch said.