Burris Academy of Karate & Tae Kwon Do

Newspaper Articles

Reprinted here are two newspaper articles that were published
in the local gastonia newspaper.

Young Students Practice Respect Through Martial Arts
by: Elizabeth Ness
Gazette Staff Reporter

Learning The Art of Discipline

GASTONIA--Tucked away in a basement off Main Ave., children as young as 3 are learning discipline, respect and confidence through the martial arts.  Students, such as 6-year-old Jonathan Davis, are taking the step from white-belted beginners to black-belted masters at the Burris Academy of Karate and Tae Kwon Do.

"This is something he's always wanted to do." said Michelle Davis, while picking up Jonathon after a recent practice.

"Definitely," says the blue-eyed boy while proudly wearing his yellow belt from the back seat of the family's minivan.

"I wanted him to learn discipline and self-esteem," Michelle continued. "I wanted him to have the confidence that when faced with confrontation to walk away."

These are skills instructor Charles Burris has taught for the last 22 years.  He started in King's Mountain before moving to the Gastonia YMCA.  In 1989, he moved to downtown Gastonia, before settling in his current location at 251 W. Main Ave. in 1997.  Since then, about 130 students have risen to black belts under Burris's hand.   "And I have not had anyone who I've taught run into trouble with the law," he said. .It takes about 4 years to become a "seasoned black belt."  Burris said.  That goal is reached when the moves aren't just memorized, but like reflexes.  He stuck with karate and ended up curbing his own temper.  When he was young he would hit without thinking and didn't have the ability to solve confrontations with words. Burris, 57, is a seventh-degree black belt, but fell into karate accidentally when he was 22 years old."I went to sign up for this club. I thought it was a dance club," said Burris, a compact, soft-spoken man with a Marine-style hairdo and flecks of grey in his mustache.

He stuck with karate and ended up curbing his own temper.  When he was young he would hit without thinking and didn't have the ability to solve confrontations with words.  Martial arts gave him the tranquility he needed to calm down and not resort to violence.  It has also given him the confidence of ten men.

"We go to tournaments every two weeks within a 200 mile radius.  It's very seldom we get less than second place," he said.

Burris has his own cache of trophies.  About 50 line the wall in the training area with more in Burris's office. When practicing with Jonathon Davis, Burris drops to his knees so the two are the same size. He calls the 6-year-old "sir" and "Mr. Davis."  He expects the same respect from his karate kids.  The two spar because the size of the bully doesn't matter, Burris tells the youngster.

Parents send their children because they are getting picked on at school or they need some discipline, Burris said. Phillip and Barbara Brown enrolled  their son Phillip Jr. into the academy to help boost the 13-year-old's self esteem.  In the four months since he started, Phillip Brown says, he's seen quite a difference in his son. "I think we've created a monster," he said with a laugh.  "He's karate chopping  everything.

Local black belt shines on
regional Dojo Circuit

Gastonia -

When Stacy Cope was 12 years old, she went to watch a karate class at the request of her mother.  It seemed OK, so Cope decided to take up the sport.  seven years later, Cope is an accomplished black belt.  Cope competes on the Regional 8 Dojo Circuit, which includes tournaments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama.  Last year, she attended 17 tournaments in the Ladies Brown Belt Division in fighting and kata.  Over 200 competitors are in the region and Cope finished first for the season in cumulative points.  "The year before, I came in second and I was determined to get first this year," said Cope, a '92 Hunter Huss grad.

Cope is currently in her second year as a student at Gaston College and in addition to working out two-to-four times a week, she also finds time to hold down a job at Dotson Fish Fry in Mount Holly.

She's very commited," said Charles Burris, who has tutored Cope the last seven years at Burris Academy of Karate and Tae Kwon Do.  "She really doesn't have a weakness. She is strong offensively and defensively."

Cope isn'r sure where she is headed in this sport.  She just enjoys the competition.  I don't think that will be anytime soon."