By Duane Blankenship
Dhea Pushpraj began classes only four months ago and is an eager and promising learner.
Chris Velez, Senior Chief Instructor and owner of Martial Arts Academy, began training when he was six years old. He progressed well and began instructing as a teenager. Martial Arts Academy has been in business since 2003 and now has two locations.
Martial Arts Academy Owner/Senior Chief Instructor Chris Velez began his training at the age of six.
When asked why a student would be attracted to Martial Arts Academy, Mr. Velez responded, “We have instructors who work here full time and are 100% dedicated to the program. Each of them began their white belt training at the Academy. They progressed and are now instructors with empathy with our students. “Most recreational sports are geared to athletes who rank in the top 10-20%. Most are good athletes and excel. Our program is geared to kids and adults with zero fitness and zero experience. They all begin at the beginner level. Instructors focus to cultivate each student’s abilities and confidence.”
No matter their ages or ability level, each student seems to have a great time learning.
Taekwon-do is the core style taught and students range from ages 4-65. Mr. Velez explained that most students work hard and earn a Black Belt in just a few years. Achievements are measured commensurate with each student’s age. “Earning a Black Belt is not the pinnacle of success,” he said. “It’s like earning a high school diploma and then realizing that there is still an abundance to learn. Life is a learning process.
“The Academy teaches technique, but that’s not our only goal. We foster positive mental attitudes and internal skill sets enabling students to ignore distractions and pressures and stay focused. Confidence is believing in yourself and your abilities. Seeing yourself as successful releases you from the opinions of others. When you have nothing to prove, you can focus on removing yourself from conflict. And if ever you cannot exit a serious situation, you will be capable of putting up a defense.” The Academy displays a poster with a quote from Master Black Belt Rick English: “A black belt is nothing more than a belt that goes around your waist. Being a black belt is a state of mind and attitude.” Here, Black Belt is synonymous with leader. “Most kids want to do well, it’s just finding the right motivator,” says Velez. “We’re selling values and our students are the ones saying ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ at the Academy, at home and at school.”
Instructors have a unique empathy with each class member regardless of age because they too received their training at Martial Arts Academy.
Most parents enroll their kids, but don’t plan on joining themselves. Once they see how positive it is, they frequently do enroll. I observed two classes at the Academy and visited with students afterward. I asked what brought them to Martial Arts Academy and what keeps them here. Thomas Wheat offered, “When I was a kid I wanted to enroll in a martial arts program. I couldn’t, so I gave our kids the opportunity. They had so much fun that my wife and I also joined. We love it, enjoy the camaraderie and the family environment. Supporting our kids helps me grow.”
Lisette Welscher said, “Our son won a free trial, and my husband and I enrolled him after the trial period ended. Mr. Velez kept asking when I was going to join. When I ran out of excuses, our whole family joined. We’ve all seen positive changes in attitudes, discipline and self control and it has changed our lives.”
Jeet Pushpraj and her two daughters Dhea and Hea enjoy taking classes together and pour their full passion and focus into learning.
Jeet Pushpraj and her two daughters responded: “My husband trained in martial arts in India, but for health reasons had to quit. He wanted his girls to know self defense and the values of a disciplined life. We visited two facilities, but did not find what we’ve found here.” Dhea added, “The classes are really fun and I enjoy the challenges.” Hea said, “I’m very glad here and pour my full passion and focus into it.”
Call Martial Arts Academy today to schedule your family’s personal meeting with Mr. Velez or an instructor to discuss mutual goals and more information about programs.