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New martial arts studio seeks to cut out bullies, improve lifestyles



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Sydney, 12, and Cooper Wilson, 9, practice with instructer Justin Davis. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
November 02, 2011 - By Gabriel Ouzounian

Review Staff Writer

A new martial arts studio has called Lake Orion it's home and, thanks to the anti-bullying mandate from Lake Orion area schools, Pro Martial Arts may be here to stay.

Ron Stencel, co-owner of the Pro Martial Arts Lake Orion branch, said the studio offers more than just self defense training. Character building, behavior training, and physical fitness have all found a home at the business' 201 N. Park Blvd location.

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"Physical fitness has always been important to me," said Stencel. "While karate is definately a great way to become physically active, we really want to emphasize the character education, the lifestyles and the non-karate part of the program. It's a great youth development program that uses martial arts as a tool for the skill set kids need growing up."

The progression at Pro Martial Arts is the usual belt-based advancement, with new belts coming about every three months. There are certain skills and sets needed to advance, but more than physical and agile prowess, self discipline is also required. To measure this, students are given self discipline cards and job lists that encourage them to perform tasks to build character.

"This is meant to be a combined effort between parents and instructors to help teach the kids to do good at home, too," said Stencel. "Parents take the job list, sit down with the instructors and learn how their kids are doing at home with things like chores, brushing their teeth and there are even blank spots on the card so parents can fill out their own requests.

"The the self discipline card is for the kids. It's blank and they can fill out these spots for stuff they did without having to be asked. If you fill out 10, you get a strip; fill out 20, you get two strips; fill out 30 and you get three strips. You cannot advance to your next belt unless you have three strips on your belt."

Other than the cards and the natural self-control that comes with martial arts, "mat chats" are held at the end of every module where instructors talk about an over-arching, age-appropriate theme. Three months are spent on each module, which usually involved themes such as respect, manners, confidence and, of course, discipline.

"Say our theme is respect," said Stencel. "We'll start with self-respect, then respect and the martial arts, then respect at home and finish with respect for the world. It starts small scale and ends big picture - our intent is to get the confidence to know you can handle yourself."

Stencel is also adamant that the studio only teaches the use of martial arts in self-defense.

Stencel said the initial response has been positive especially because of the studio's anti-bullying focus. The goal for him is to get schools involved with the business in a number of ways, including bringing the studio's mascot - Rocky the Rhino - in for demonstrations. He even hopes that schools would consider sending potential bullies to the program so they might have chance to stop the problem at the source.

"If we can take a bully, and put him in an environment with a positive experience, I think we can really help these kids," he said. "We'll get him through classes for a month and see if that helps. These are still young kids, so we'd like to help them, as well."

The main art forms practiced at Pro Martial Art is a combination of Tang Soo Do (open hand way), Tai Kwon Do (foot and fist way) and Hapkido (harmonic way).

Business hours are 4-8 p.m., Mon-Thurs; and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. They are closed Sunday.

Those interested in signing up for classes can contact Pro Martial Arts at 248- 690-9186, or online at promartialarts.com. A contest is currently underway on its Facebook page, as well.

Free trials are also available and those interested will be given one free uniform and two free classes, with a belt awarded to the student at the culmination of the second class.

Stencel co-owns the business with his wife, Monica.

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