Black Dragon Kenpo Will Mark 14 Years at Shore Centre
Black Dragon Kenpo will mark 14 years at Shore Centre
Dontrell Callahan is still a young man, yet he's been teaching martial arts at his Black Dragon Kenpo dojo (training place) in Shore Centre for fourteen years. There was a six-month gap halfway through when the Euclid native - then barely into his thirties - suffered a serious stroke. You'd never know that if you simply observed Callahan kick and thrust, demonstrating traditional karate moves. But it did happen, and there was a hospital stay and a lot of hard work before the Bowling Green University grad got his groove back.
Martial arts are about self-mastery, confidence, focus, concentrated energy. Callahan is a third-degree black belt and a designated "world class competitor," and when you see him move in front of male and female students and watching parents, you quickly realize you don't want to question his credentials. This sensei - Callahan's karate title - demonstrating his moves in the basement of Shore Centre radiates self-mastery, confidence, focus, concentrated energy. Now it is Callahan's mission to pass those infinitely valuable qualities on.
While numbered black belts top out at three, if it were up to Euclid resident Sunny Morton, the mother of the Black Dragon two-time student of the year, Alex Morton, Sunny would no doubt award Callahan a fourth-degree. Morton says, "At first I felt it was about the sport, but then I became aware that it's also about having a mentor for our son. Every kid needs a mentor and Dontrell does a wonderful job as Alex's mentor."
Alex is the clear star of the dojo. At the school's March 20th awards ceremony, he was ceremoniously bestowed his brown belt, the last stop before the black belt aspiration of every serious martial arts student. Darren Stewart has a long way to go. Nevertheless, Brenda Stewart thinks her six-year-old is a good bet to reach that martial arts destination. Stewart says, "Darren loves the class. He catches on to the moves quickly and he can't stop talking about the dojo."
Alex and Darren illustrate the school's diversity. Callahan says, "There is a very good black-white mix in our student body, but in the dojo they are all just kids." Larcenia Cannon, the grandmother of Callahan's longtime student Jada Graham, illustrated the harmony at the school when at the awards ceremony she offered admiring comments about how Alex Morton has improved. It was obvious Cannon is invested in the success of all the children.
Gender is another category of equality at Black Dragon Kenpo. Callahan says, "I used to have boys who wouldn't spar with the girls. Now I tell them that if they go easy on the girls they are not helping them train."
Callahan never misses an opportunity to make it clear the school is about discipline and self-mastery, not aggression. He lectures his young pupils on the vital importance of humility, respect for your opponent and learning from the defeats life brings. He says, "You only fail if you don't learn something from the experience."
After fourteen years Callahan acknowledges he's a success. He also says he can never relax his concentration: "I am constantly paying attention to the students, managing them, managing their energy, coaching focus."
Longtime Euclid resident and former editor of a college magazine.