Student takes kenpo right in stride |

Student takes kenpo right in stride

by Laura Brunzlick Staff Writer

Megan Crandall started taking kenpo lessons after her sister Erin learned the martial art.

Although Erin no longer lives in Carson Valley, Megan continues her lessons.

“It makes me feel strong and it is good exercise,” Crandall said.

A senior at Douglas High School, Crandall, 17 has taken kenpo classes at the Carson Valley Christian Center since 1998.

Crandall, who has Down syndrome, has earned a blue belt in the martial art.

“I am pretty good at it,” she said.

Her instructor, Kevin Schaller of Genoa, describes Crandall as focused and determined.

“She is one of the most remarkable students I have ever had,” Schaller said.

Crandall, of Gardnerville, also participates in the Special Olympics. She plays soccer, swims, bowls and cross-country skis.

Her 17 medals, including 10 gold, four silver and three bronze, are displayed in her bedroom.

The Crandall family includes Megan, her mother Terri, father Jerry and sister, Erin Crandall.

Erin is a college student living in Los Angeles.

Kenpo, a martial art which originated in China, is often used for self defense.

Crandall has learned complex kenpo forms called a kata. A kata is a sequence of movements which includes 60 to 70 steps.

“It’s been amazing to watch her develop,” Schaller said.

Spiritual teachings are incorporated into Crandall’s weekly kenpo class.

“Religion is important to me,” she said.

Crandall reads verses out of the Bible in between her kenpo moves.

She also belongs to the Movers and Doers Club, a social club for people with disabilities.

The club, sponsored by the Carson City Parks Department, goes to movies, holds pizza nights and has a bowling league.

At last October’s national convention of the American Teachers Association of Martial Arts, Schaller described Crandall as an ideal student.

“She has made me a better teacher,” he said.

While Crandall admits that she has to work a little harder than her classmates, she does not see herself as exceptional.

“I feel like everyone else in class,” she said.

Crandall plans to continue kenpo and hopes to earn a black belt in three years.

“I also want to take some fun classes at Western Nevada Community College after I graduate from high school,” she said.

– Staff Writer Laura Brunzlick can be e-mailed at