Little Union Academy to hold event at KHS
Little Union Academy for Martial Arts was formed in 2001 by Master Joseph Jones, a sixth-degree black belt of Tae Kwon Do. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
It’s one of the best known secrets in Kinston.
On Saturday, the Little Union Academy for Martial Arts will hold its 16th annual Karate Madness Open at Kinston High School. The event starts at 9:30 a.m. and will have numerous participants, some coming from as far as Georgia, New Jersey and Maryland.
The event was created in 2003 by Master Joseph Jones, who founded the Little Union Academy two years prior. Jones is a sixth-degree black belt of Tae Kwon Do and teaches the Moo Duk Kwan technique at his dojo. Jones has plenty of experience in martial arts, having studied since 1963; he’s won numerous awards for his work, including being inducted into the American Martial Arts Association Hall of Fame, Joe Corley's American Karate Battle of Atlanta Officials Hall of Fame and earning the 2012 Minority Business of the Year award in Kinston/Lenoir County.
Jones, who learned techniques in New York after moving from Kinston, said he came back to make a difference in his community, especially guiding the children.
“Martial arts has such a history,” Jones said. “In the old days, it was very militant, but in these days it’s really used to help. Kids these days are committing suicide and they don't have awareness of themselves or others. Martial arts brings you home, brings peace — our mark is made not as much by kicking and punching, but bringing in discipline and self-respect.
“I tell them all the time: If you had discipline, you wouldn't have fear in your heart. That's the only reason (someone) has that gun. Martial arts teaches courage, confidence and how to concentrate. It stimulates the brain cells and helps one become a better person in society.”
The dojo is at 133 N. Queen Street; its students do numerous demonstrations — most notably at the Kinston Christmas parade. Jones said he hopes Saturday’s event will help in sparking local interest in the art.
“We develop character, discipline, respect and control,” Jones said. “I started doing classes at Rochelle (Middle School) and the kids are coming around. It's not completely on the minds of most people, which is something we're hoping to provide.”
Rochelle Principal Felicia Solomon said Jones was a part of her after-school program when she had the same position at Southeast Elementary and has always shared a strong bond with children.
“He understands the reality a lot of boys go through here in Kinston, and he has sincere passion and commitment to helping these beautiful boys,” Solomon said. “We’re thankful to have him as a strong, productive role model to the kids and it’s wonderful to see him instilling the wisdom he does among the boys.”
Rochelle seventh-grader Yazmere Hatch said he has appreciated the time spent with Jones.
“You never know the people that come into your life,” Hatch said. “Ms. Solomon brought us together and he’s taught me respect, something he’s shown me the entire time I take his class.”
Davyn Hall, a second-grader at Southeast Elementary, participates at the dojo and said there are several aspects he’s excited about taking the classes.
“We get to learn how to fight and get better,” Hall said. “I like the tournaments the (most) — I won first place in the first one I went to.”
Contentnea-Savannah fourth-grader Joshua Cobb said he enjoys watching the confidence level of his peers and younger students grow.
“I like seeing other kids get excited when they do something they didn’t think they could do,” Cobb said. “Their eyes light up and it’s fun to watch. We practice a lot of different forms and everyone has a great time.”
Coree Hall, who has worked as an instructor for two years at Little Union Academy, had nothing but positives to say about Jones.
“He has a real love for the children,” Hall said. “He enjoys being able to teach them how to defend themselves, they love the classes and the art.”
For more information about Little Union Academy, go to littleunionkarate.org.