Chop to It
● By Wendy Sipple
In the ‘70s, martial arts classes were an extracurricular activity for kids. They hoped to learn those James Bond-style karate chops, making them the toughest in the neighborhood.
Instead, they learned how to take on difficult tasks and overcome them; the value of good manners and of treating others with respect; and how to address long-term tasks and complete them. In short, they learned how to be more successful adults, and what they gleaned still serves them well today. Martial arts also provide a great forum for adults to get, and stay, in shape. Many martial arts studios offer excellent adult programs for those who are returning to the activity or discovering it for the first time.
The Dojo in Folsom has a large adult-student base: Roughly 50 percent of instructor Chris Hadlock’s students are adults, and therefore he has a solid handle on what they’re looking for and need in martial arts training. “We get people who are looking for different things. Some people want to go into competitive martial arts, and that is fine – we can start them on that route,” shares Hadlock.
“For most people, however, [the] lifestyle is what’s important. I like when students find the balance that they seek in martial arts and apply it to their lives. They find physical fitness because they are balancing their physical exertion with their dietary habits, and work with their recreation,” says Hadlock. His dojo harbors a strong sense of tradition, and it’s a place to learn how to use your body for self defense; and also how to be an overall more effective person.
Bob Westphal, with Foothill Taekwondo, teaches both adults and children. The truth is that if you can navigate on your own, or even with a little help, you can benefit from martial arts,” he says. “There is a sense of accomplishment that goes with pursuing martial arts, as well as physical fitness and the sense of self assurance that comes from overcoming difficult obstacles.” Foothill Taekwondo uses the belt system as a short-term rewards system for short-term goals. “The belts keep the interest up in many students,” Westphal says, “but the long-term benefits far outweigh the short term goals.”
Another benefit is the personalized attention from instructors. Chad Shepherd, with Kovar’s Satori Academy of Martial Arts in Roseville, is very focused on the success of his students. “Our class just finished reading Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” he shares. “The study of martial arts, especially for adults, is about meeting and overcoming a difficult challenge,” Shepherd says. He has a student who is 84 years old, one who is bound to a wheelchair, and students who are visually and hearing challenged. “Anyone can benefit from martial arts,” he insists, and finishes with “the style that works the best for you is the best style.”
Folsom MMA, (Mixed Martial Arts) is a full-contact school with much more focus on the self-defense aspect of martial arts. “We get a lot of adults here. Prison guards and police – people who have to know how to defend themselves when their back is flat on the floor and someone is coming at them,” Ron Lobely says. Lobely has multiple black belts in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. MMA is geared toward those interested in the combative techniques found in martial arts. “It usually takes about a year per belt here – if students are interested in getting a belt every three months, they need to go elsewhere.” he continues, “And frankly, there are no 10-year-old black belts who are real black belts.”
Lobely may not agree with some other martial arts instructors on the awarding of belts, but on the fundamentals, they all agree: The lifestyle is what it comes down to – finding the balance.