By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Terrell Cooper, instructor and owner of Terrell’s Championship Karate School has been involved in the sport of karate for 16 years of his life. With a third degree black belt and countless trophies and awards from around the country, he is now sharing his expertise with his children who have become karate enthusiasts.
Cooper’s children Eric Gassaway, Jordan Gassaway, Christopher Gassaway, Dominic Gassaway and La’Veya Louis have all earned belts in various colors over the years under his tutelage.
Jordan, age 13 and a soon to be 8th grader at Pierce Middle School, says he took up the sport 8 years ago because it was fun to do instead of staying around the house all day. He said, “Since I’ve started taking karate, I’ve earned over 300 trophies from competing in different tournaments.”
Jordan is ranked as a National Champion in the Fighting Competition and last year he was ranked in the Top Ten Competition in the Fighting Category. As a first-degree black belt, he says he wants to go all the way to become a 10th degree black belt. “It takes some time to become a 10th degree black belt. There are some that are 50 or 60 years old that are 10th degree black belts.”
Jordon says the hardest part of karate is teaching it to young students. He said, “I like helping kids learn Kata, which is imaginary fighting.”
Some of the kids at his school know that he has a black belt in karate, but he doesn’t go around telling them much about it. He said, “I don’t talk to them about my karate because they might want to try and test me on it.”
Jordan says he is ranked higher than his brothers and sister. Christopher, age 11, is currently testing for his first black belt. Dominic, age 9, has a purple belt, Eric, age 16, has a blue belt and his sister La’Veya, age 8, has a white belt.
All of the siblings practice with each other, Jordan likes to think that he is the best of them all. He said, “I like to say I’m the best, but they might say they are better than me.”
Christopher, a soon to be 6th grader at Merrillville Intermediate School, says the best things to him about karate are the uniforms and learning Kata. He says Kata is the art of imaginary fighting. “I’ve been taking lessons for 7 years. I started because I thought it was cool and I wanted to learn how to do it. It is not hard. I practice four times a week or sometimes two times a week for two hours. I already know most of it so now I’m helping to teach others,” he said.
When he’s not practicing or participating in a tournament, Christopher says he enjoys watching TV especially karate, playing basketball or football. His favorite karate person is Raymond Daniels, a kick boxer who started out in karate.
Christopher says he has close to 50 trophies in the areas of Kata, Weapons and Fighting, but it is Kata that he likes best because it gives him a burst of energy. He says when he grows up he wants to be an engineer who builds things for companies.
Terrell says the sport of karate teaches discipline, courage and respect. He said, “We work to not only grow you or your child physically, but mentally and spiritually, as well. The martial arts are not just about fighting, but about growing into a model citizen.” Terrell says he also teaches anti-bullying and women’s self-defense.
Terrell says he has taught karate to hundreds of children. He said “Most of my students are children, but it doesn’t make a difference to me who I teach. My preference is to teach anyone who wants to learn the art.”
Classes are held at the Hudson Campbell Sports Complex, 455 Massachusetts Street. For more information, call (219) 293-6774 or visit terrellschampionshipkarate-.com.