We use modern training methods for all ages.
Children spend their extra energy doing healthy and enriching things.
A vigorous workout is a positive outlet for stress at any age.
All advanced belts are regularly tested for personal best scoring in basic exercises to ensure they are continually challenging themselves. Occasionally a leaderboard or fitness challenges bring some fun to motivating each other to stay fit. Accountability partnering is encouraged at all levels.

Skills can be demonstrated and presented in ways to suit any learning style, but until you feel what making power from your center feels like, you won’t have a full understanding. This comes from being coachable and open to many different ways of practicing. Our students learn to take feedback, apply it to their own experience, and adjust. Martial arts teaches students how to learn.

An emphasis on rest, diet, and mindfulness of personal habits. Recognizing and avoiding things that aren’t healthy is a constant dialogue on the mat. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the US. Developing healthy habits to protect yourself from falling prey to poor choices is a self defense lesson that all should master. Obesity and stress related diseases are preventable through education and healthy practices.

We talk about it, we teach the techniques of it, and we emphasize some aspect of self awareness in every single class we teach. Self control is a foundation of success in any endeavor. We teach it as the way to reach your goals.

We work with all ages of people on how to avoid becoming a victim of bullying, and how to take a stand against someone being a bully to others. This conversation is not just for kids in our facility. Unfortunately these behaviors come in all ages and all environments.

From techniques of awareness development to pragmatic, effective ideas of self defense, that topic is covered in a multitude of ways. We are deliberate about teaching non-violent resolution of conflict as the first and best choice. Scaling force is covered so students can understand the proper amount of force required to end a self defense situation quickly. This is covered for teens and adults more in depth regarding use of force laws, articulation, and understanding why violence happens in the first place. Simply teaching technique without knowledge of these areas can be dangerous. Knowledge with proper technique equips students to deal with sudden and unexpected violence appropriately–and in a way parents approve of and will appreciate.

When it comes to lessons about being a part of a team, leading a team effort, and/or how to properly contribute to anything related to working with others, we know how to nurture the right attitude and outlook on the subject. Our classes are designed as a hands on lesson in group problem solving, getting along with others, working well together, and developing both leadership skills and the ability to let others lead.

Martial arts instills a strong work ethic. Getting a black belt is hard. At least it should be. Getting to black belt is so hard that many may not enroll in the first place if they knew. The perseverance that it takes to simply show up for that long is a lesson in itself.

Being a leader is directly related to actions and attitudes. We teach that respect is earned, not expected. There is leadership curriculum and opportunities for experience at every level, increasing in rigor as seniority increases. All black belt candidates prepare for their black belt test with our Champion Leadership course.

Cultivation of character is the real lesson of martial arts. Following the five tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit both on and off the mat is expected.  

We teach by modeling and coaching. For a child to learn confidence they need to know what it looks like, but they also need to know what it feels like. Confidence and self esteem are facilitated by just the right amount of struggle, not over praising and letting a student work out a solution.

Each lesson includes level appropriate activities to ensure that all students develop an understanding of how and why movements work. Memorizing routines is necessary in the beginning but should move  beyond simply repeating a body position to experimenting with the application of the routine in realistic context. The mindset of paying attention to and understanding what you are doing applies to life on and off the training mat. We do practice movements over and over, but learning to adapt and apply is the goal, not to become a well trained robot.

Becoming a black belt isn’t only a physical journey, it’s an emotional one. Often overlooked but even more important than physical movements are our social and emotional responses. Awareness of our emotions and how they affect our behaviors is fundamental and developed with practice. We teach awareness of the body and mind. That’s what that makes martial arts second nature and applicable to real situations

“An instructor should understand each student’s limits so they can encourage them while pushing them to get better. An instructor should be honest and open with their students and fellow instructors. An instructor should lead by example.”

​ -Myles, 1st Degree Black Belt / Instructor Trainee

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“I was out of shape. I had a weight problem as a child and a young adult. I wanted to change that, but I didn’t understand how. I knew I needed to exercise and eat right, but I hated going to the gym. I felt out of place. I knew I needed to do something different. I decided to try martial arts.”
Hello, I’m Jennifer. I’m a professional martial arts instructor and studio owner. This is the story of why I got involved in martial arts and why I’ve stayed with it so long.

I grew up south of Charlotte when it was farms, not suburbs. My first interest in martial arts was sparked watching Wonder Woman on television. I remember being frustrated when my tin foil wrist bands didn’t hold up to my vigorous bullet deflecting practice. There wasn’t much around back then in the way of martial arts studios, and I didn’t start formal training until the fall of 1996. I was 22. I was overweight and overwhelmed. I had a six month old baby daughter. I had been overweight and overwhelmed as long as I could remember and I wanted to change. I was desperate for change. I wanted better for my daughter.

I wasn’t a particularly active child. I grew up hating gym class and eating when no one was looking. Food was used to dull the sting of a hard day and I developed an unhealthy relationship to nutrition early in life. I struggled terribly in school with a learning disability, Dyscalculia. Food became a salve rather than nourishment. I was saddled with a negative body image that plagues many of the women I know, but back then I thought I was alone. I continued to be sedentary into young adulthood, with only the occasional attempt at exercise. I loved to move, loved the feeling of my body in motion but at that point my athletic confidence was so low that it was a challenge to maintain any kind of commitment.

When I took my first Taekwondo class, I felt my entire body come alive in a way it never had before. The aggressive dissatisfaction I had developed toward my body and the way I felt in it began to subside. It was more physically demanding than I expected. I remember being asked to do a push up. I was so weak. It was either arms locked out at the top or flat on the ground. There was no strength in between. But I stuck with it because my Instructors made me feel like I could do it.

The people there believed in me in a way nobody had before. I wanted to continue more than I wanted to stop most of the time, but it was hard. There were loads of times I wanted to quit, but I was hooked on the feeling I got when I trained.  So I pushed through the hard times. I struggled but got better, and saw that I was stronger than I thought. As my body grew more physically fit, I started to realize that I had the potential to develop my strength mentally. I had never felt that before. I stayed, and I learned what it meant to be committed.  

After practicing Taekwondo for one year I decided to enroll in teacher training. What I found during that training and in the time since is beyond what I could have imagined or hoped for. I have never been so awed and humbled by anything. Martial arts has challenged my ideas of myself. It’s been the way I learned compassion for myself and others. As I practice and teach, I watch old notions of who I am dissolve. The discipline has helped me see how weaker places can be strengthened or accepted. It has given me a way of moving through the world with more openness and confidence than I believed I would ever have. Not because someone told me, I felt it. It was earned.

When I first started I heard people call martial arts a way of life. I wanted what they had, how they trained, how they moved, how they behaved…but I didn’t know how to get it. The last part of the word Taekwondo, Do, means “the way” and that’s been the best part of it for me. I did make it a way of life. Now I understand martial arts training as a system that provides as much as the practitioner is willing to take on. It is more than a physical discipline. The postures and breathing develop a stronger body. That’s what I wanted when I started. If I’m honest what I really wanted was to look better and slimmer, more fitting with society’s ideal. I thought that alone that would be enough. My practice delivered, but over time it has seen me through peaks and valleys with my levels of fitness. I thought that if I looked great on the outside, I would be happy. Turns out, I had some work to do on the inside, too. I’m still working. I’m thankful martial arts also offers a philosophy to govern my behavior toward others and towards myself. The lessons in acceptance, flexibility, non judgement, presence and overcoming limitation that are learned on the mat have served me every single day in my life off the mat.

So, I stuck with it. This is what I’m doing now…

I’m a 4th degree black belt certified with the Kukkiwon, the Korean national academy for Taekwondo based in Seoul, Korea.  I’m a member of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors and the Worldwide Association of Female Martial Arts Professionals. I started training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu a few years ago and want to earn my black belt. I’m a blue belt. That’s a long and steep learning curve. But because of what I learned about myself in Taekwondo, I know I can get there.

I’m a recent graduate of the Mindfulness Fundamentals course through Mindful Schools, and I’ll be graduating from their Mindful Educator Essentials course soon. I took that up after a Violence Dynamics course with with Sgt. Rory Miller. He said mindfulness was the key to all of this: “Skills, principles, drills- everything you teach has to be safe enough to practice.  It takes minutes at a time resulting in hours of training and repetition to get the most basic skills- sensitivity, structure, power generation and stealing, targeting, exploiting motion, tactical intuition, … on and on. Then you have to be able to use those skills in a dynamic net, all of the skills playing off of each other and do it when you don’t have any preparation time or any safety net…You and your students need to know what you are actually doing and, more importantly, what you are not doing.” He was, as usual, wise in his advice and that’s a rabbit hole I’ll never regret diving down. The world hasn’t looked the same since working with him. I’ll continue to train with him and study his work, he bridges the enormous gap that I have between martial arts practice and the reality of violence. That’s where most of my interest is now, principles based training and teaching.

2017 will mark 20 years since I first started teaching martial arts, 21 years since my first class. I managed 3 different studios then opened my own independent training center in 2010. It’s now a thriving business serving a rapidly growing area just outside of Charlotte, NC. My business model is unique because of my unconventional commitment to no contracts and engaging curriculum design. I’ve found a way to teach martial arts respecting tradition but recognizing the broader benefits of taking the lessons learned on the mat and bringing them to everyday situations in the classroom, social, or business setting. I’m currently advising the development of a martial arts program to work with underserved areas of my community so they can benefit from participation in my program regardless of special needs or economic status.

People enroll themselves and their children in martial arts programs around the world for many different reasons. I’ve seen and experienced a broad range of those benefits in myself and in my students and peers. Here’s the short list of ways I’ve benefitted. Martial arts instills a lifelong love of learning. A course of action, a philosophy of living. I’ve discovered that it’s more than physical fitness, more than self defense. It is a profound way to rewire our brains so that individual behaviors are transformed. I teach growth mindset, and I believe this is true. Life is intense. For a long time I was afraid of that, that my heart would be overwhelmed with the intensity of a wholehearted life. But because of my practice, I know that my heart can be with a wide range of experiences, even very challenging ones, and I can stay steady and true to myself through it. It’s given me confidence in my heart and allowed me to connect to my life.To me, that’s meant freedom. Which brings me to why I continue to work. It’s a way to encourage people to use their voice, follow their heart, find their own freedom.  “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”  -Toni Morrison

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