Last week, two boys joined the ranks of junior black belt when Ford Neild of Bronxville and Aidan Connolly of Yonkers received their promotions from the (WMAA) in Eastchester.
Neild, a seventh-grader at , has been attending WMAA for close to 10 years. Connolly, a fifth-grade student at P.S. 30 in Yonkers, has been training at the Eastchester-based martial arts school since he was 4 years old.
Edward Connolly believes the martial arts have helped his son gain a self confidence and maturity beyond his years.
"He is a very disciplined and dedicated person who, when he sets his mind to something, is determined to get it done. We are very proud of this accomplishment," stated the proud father.
The three-hour test included a number of exhausting drills to test the boys' skills in kicking, punching, trapping, grappling, boxing, standup striking, and clinching techniques.
It was preceded by a two-mile run around the track and the required 100 push-ups from each candidate. Both boys went on to exceed their previous personal bests (500 push-ups for Ford and 1,080 for Aidan, performed in timed intervals).
Over the years, the boys have trained to become well-rounded martial artists, proficient in western boxing, Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the Filipino martial arts.
But that’s not all they've learned, said owners Chuck and Kara Giangreco.
In addition to working as a team on the Black Belt Club, the boys have learned important life skills such as leadership, self-accountability and supporting their fellow classmates. Their leadership skills are honed by assisting in all academy tests as feeders, helping in after-school programs and at all WMAA events.
"WMAA's goal is for our students to gain positive life skills through training in the martial arts. Allowing them to become confident, successful young adults and giving them the competitive edge in life is our goal," said Chuck Giangreco, who trains law enforcement and military groups, including the FBI, the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, U.S. Navy Seals, and the U.S. Army Special Forces.
"Rocky Balboa has nothing on Ford," said a proud Tania Neild. "Ford has learned to overcome challenges in the martial arts and in life," added his mother.
"This long, difficult test was a terrific culmination of everything he has done over the years to develop his character and strength. We could not be more proud!"