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Mastering martial arts is youngster’s ‘dream goal’
The 6-foot-6-inch trophy that Adam Pellegreen earned as a grand champion in tae kwon do resides in the studio where he takes classes because it’s too big to fit at his house in Spotsylvania County.
The 10-year-old earned the trophy at a competition in Northern Virginia after beating out all the other competitors in not only his age group, but several others, including adults.
It was a forms competition, which involved choreographed sets of movements that include series of steps, blocks and strikes. That’s what Adam considers his specialty, in terms of tae kwon do skills.
“I’m good at memorizing things,” Adam said, about why he likes doing forms.
Adam, the son of Harold and Kathy Pellegreen, has been taking classes at Master Seong’s Martial Arts Academy since he was 5 years old. He’s competed in several tournaments, collecting more than 30 trophies in his five years of tae kwon do.
Adam says he started martial arts because his sister would go to dance class after school and he wanted an after-school activity, too.
“I had this dream goal of becoming a black belt,” he said.
He got his first black belt at age 8, when he was in third grade. Recently, he earned his second-degree black belt.
Though black belt is often thought to be the highest rank in martial arts, students of tae kwon do can continue to excel by earning stripes on their black belt.
The test for the second-degree black belt is only given every six months. And the next step, a third-degree black belt, will take Adam about three years to earn.
Though he’s just 10, Adam is an assistant teacher at Master Joon Seong’s school, helping students his age and younger.
He took a leadership class from Master Seong before becoming an assistant. He says he likes being in charge because he can dole out punishments, such as doing push-ups.
“Most of the time they listen, but they get angry when they don’t [get to] do what they want,” he said about his students.
Adam said his ultimate goal is to teach a class by himself. That’s perhaps a natural desire for a child whose parents are both educators: His father is the principal at Lewis and Clark Elementary, and his mother is a music teacher at Cedar Forest Elementary, where Adam is a fifth-grader.
Adam learned that the principal there once took tae kwon do, but did not make it past the level of brown belt. So, one Monday at school, Adam told the principal that he outranked him.
“He bowed to me,” Adam said proudly.
Adam said a lot of people stop after earning their brown belt.
“I stuck with it because I knew if I quit, I would regret it,” he said.
Seong said that Adam is different from most children in that he stuck with it.
“He’s a very responsible young man, reliable—whatever he says, that’s what he will achieve,” Seong said.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413