By JUSTIN BARRASSO
Tucked away on Newbury Street in Peabody, almost hidden among the multitude of spectacles on Route 1, is Bruce McCorry’s Martial Arts Academy. The building, covered by a simple red awning, comes alive upon entering the front door. Inside, McCorry teaches self-discipline, self-defense, and self-confidence.
“Everything now is compete, compete, compete,” said McCorry. “The pressure placed on children is tremendous, but martial arts teaches you to compete with yourself. Slow and steady is the key.”
McCorry is the man behind the martial arts, and he is a genuine legend within the city of Peabody. “I have immense pride in my connection with the city of Peabody,” said McCorry, 63, who was the youngest of the four.
“My parents moved to Peabody because they wanted to move out of the city, and we moved into the new development in West Peabody.”
McCorry’s older brother, John, who is a retired lieutenant with the Peabody Police Department, served in the United States Marine Corps. He also studied martial arts and started bringing his younger brother with him.
“I grew up with dyslexia, and, at the time, I thought there was something wrong with me,” revealed McCorry. “Martial arts helped me a great deal with it.”
In addition to an emphasis on discipline, McCorry learned that martial arts also serves as a healthy outlet for those with special needs or coping with anxiety. When he began his journey into martial arts, however, he was unaware that his passion would lead to a lifetime’s worth of joy in the field. McCorry was also inspired by famous martial artist Bruce Lee while watching “The Green Hornet.”
“That’s when I started, around 1967, watching Bruce Lee,” said McCorry. “I started martial arts because I loved to do it, and I still love to do it to this day. Martial arts is a wonderful way to stay on track. I learned that you need discipline and devotion in martial arts, because without it, you’re not going to achieve much.”
The martial arts studio is celebrating its 39th year in operation, as McCorry opened the school in 1978.
“I never thought I would still be running the school in 2017,” McCorry admitted. “I worked at General Electric as a sheet metal worker for 15 years, and I opened the school while I was still working at GE. I had to make a decision between the two, and that was either to stay at GE or follow my passion. I chose to follow my passion.”
McCorry further enhanced his knowledge when he took a sojourn in 1984 to study the way martial artists trained in Asia. He studied and trained at the Shaolin Temple in China, which is akin to holy ground for martial artists.
“I learned that martial artists train in Asia as a way of life, not a hobby,” explained McCorry. “That’s when I took it a step further and made this my life. I gave up my job at GE to do this, which was a big risk and it was scary. You need to trust the process, and that’s what I did.”
In a world filled with the need for instant gratification, McCorry has witnessed many people attempt to rush into success in martial arts. Those people, he noted, do not last long.
“Seeing kids get into martial arts, and stay into it, is really great,” said McCorry. “That’s what still inspires, even to today. It takes a lot of hard work, but it is worth it when you love it.”
McCorry’s daughter was only 2 years old when he first opened his martial arts academy, and now he is the proud grandfather of a 2-year-old – who, McCorry added, is a future martial artist.
“He’s only 2 years old, so he’s too young right now,” said McCorry with a laugh. “But yes, he will be a martial artist.”
He expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the people of the North Shore for the past four decades.
“This is a labor of love,” said McCorry. “I didn’t think I would be doing this as a career, but I’m very thankful I did. I am also very grateful. Without the people who have dedicated themselves to martial arts, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Photos: Reba Saldanha