When Delphine Peller enrolled her daughter Zoe in Karate International’s little samurai class, it was the sheer “overall cuteness” of her 4-year old’s new activity that drew her in.
The class, designed to introduce children ages 3 to 5 to karate, was something to keep the toddler active, but Peller didn’t know her daughter would latch onto the sport the way she has.
Eight years later, Zoe is a national champion in karate.
Peller has seen the 12-year-old grow through karate, using learned skills in all parts of her life.
“You can see the self confidence,” Delphine Peller said. “She meets challenges head on. She has a little bit of edge to her, but it brings some beauty to that in being tough as a young woman, but having a certain grace to it.”
Zoe, a seventh-grader at Quest Academy Charter School, was one of 14 Karate International students promoted during the school’s Black Belt Friday event last week. She advanced to second-degree black belt.
“I love the fact that it’s your own journey and you have control of it and it’s your own experience,” Zoe said. “It’s also very into tradition, and I enjoy the art of it. Other sports are competitive, but I really enjoy the tradition.”
Rob Olevsky, known as Mr. O, was also promoted Friday.
Already a 10th-degree black belt in karate, he is now also a fourth-degree black belt in judo.
Once Olevsky, 59, reached the pinnacle in karate, he began studying other forms of martial arts. It has been a constant pursuit of education, he said.
He also holds a sixth-degree black belt in jujitsu and a fourth-degree black belt in kendo.
“I’m not any more fast or more capable than other people,” he said. “I just love the arts and have just tenaciously continued to study. How many people do anything for 40 years? One of the tricks is to continue to always love the arts and never be bored by it. I can’t learn enough. The only problem is I’m getting older.”
Olevsky is the chief instructor at Karate International, which he runs with his wife, Kathy. The school has five locations in Raleigh, Apex, Garner and Cary, serving about 800 active students.
Roughly 80 of those Triangle students are black belts, Kathy Olevsky said.
“Overall anybody who wants to be a black belt that puts the time and effort in can be,” said Kathy Olevsky, an eighth-degree black belt in karate. “It’s a taught art. It doesn’t have to be given or born ability. For me it wasn’t. ... It’s just a matter of making that your physical activity of choice. To people outside it seems like an unaccomplishable thing, but it’s just like someone who’s a runner who decides that they’re going to run a marathon. It’s just the desire to do it.”