I always worried about having kids who were sports nuts. I am definitely not athletic, although I tried when I was growing up, in order to be included in activities. I played soccer, basketball and volleyball. Soccer lasted about a year, did not enjoy it. Basketball was longer, I really liked it, but I just sucked, so when it came time to be in school sports and try out for a team, I never made it. My last ditch effort was volleyball, and I was given the manager position…which at my school, meant the coaches feel bad because they know how much you want to be a part of the team, and you suck, but they recognize your multi-tasking and organizational abilities! Organized sports just weren’t gonna happen in my life.
I’m not an avid sports fan, although I do enjoy watching games and sports when they are on, but I’m not the person who has to have the NFL ticket or makes brackets for college basketball. We watch the Superbowl, and that’s about it. Thankfully my husband isn’t that into it either, he can take it or leave it too. But I knew when I gave birth to two boys that sports would someday come up in our lives. I’m not a huge fan of organized sports and how the parents act, how the coaches are with the kids, and the grueling schedule that the kids have to endure as they get older. As a mother, of course, I would let them get involved if they were truly passionate about it, but I’m not the parent who would put her kid into a ton of sports at a young age. I feel like kids these days have so much going on, they are exhausted. I want my boys to enjoy and experience being a kid. I don’t want to put pressure on them to be the best at a sport. I would rather they focused on school and kid things, playing, goofing off, using their imagination. They only have a few years to do that, and those years are so special.
My best friend put her son into martial arts when he was 5, and she couldn’t say enough great things about it. The owner had been in the Marines with her husband, who happens to be my cousin, so we decided to do a free class to check it out. Kaleb took to it immediately. That was almost three years ago. I have loved watching his journey with martial arts. There is such discipline and thought processes that go into it, not to mention the great exercise he is getting. He is now a purple belt, and his athleticism is remarkable. He has great balance, great flexibility, awesome reflexes, and it definitely helps with other mental aspects as well. It has helped with his behavior and discipline. He wasn’t an “acting out” sort of kid to begin with, but he has his moments, and in those moments I can ask him what Sensei would think, and he takes the time to think about what he is doing and makes different choices. He also struggles a bit with anxiety, so we utilize some closed-eye breathing exercises that he has learned in class, basically meditation. I can’t wait until my youngest turns 4 in May so he can start classes with his brother.
Our dojo is called The Academy, and it is run by Sensei Pierce Toomey. It has really become like a family community. The parents hang out while the kids are in class, get to know each other, the younger siblings have a toy/play area so they aren’t bored, etc. I love that Pierce gets very involved in the community doing outreach to non-profits each year (more on that below), and also runs a food drive during the holidays. His students are involved in all of this, learning to give back to the community that they live in. I did a little interview with him so you all could understand martial arts and what The Academy offers a bit better.
How long have you been doing martial arts, and how did you become involved in martial arts?
My parents signed me up for karate lessons when I was a boy. I didn’t really “get” team sports, and they thought that this was going to be a great alternative. On top of that my father did martial arts and he understood the principles of discipline, confidence and respect that comes with martial arts training. He thought that those would be great principles for me to learn as a boy. All in all, I’ve been studying almost 25 years now, the overwhelming majority of it has been in the system of Kempo Karate that we teach here at The Academy.
What is Kempo Karate?
Kempo Karate is a blended system of Chinese Kung-Fu, Karate, Judo and some other influences. What I really like about what we teach is that instead of the person needing to “fit” the style, our style “fits” the person. This makes it so that everyone can find a way to make our style their own. That makes it a whole lot more fun to practice, as well as making it easier to master.
What benefits are there to your child participating in martial arts, even at a young age?
Gosh! There are so many different things that, not just children, but everyone can get from the Martial Arts. I like to describe it as the 3 F’s: Fun, Fit, and Focus. Fun: Everyone has fun in class, whether it’s the fun that comes from challenging yourself and accomplishing a goal, or learning a new skill set, or even just the great company of the family you’ll make here at The Academy. Fit: Both physical and mental fitness, you’ll exercise in every class and in ways that make you forget you’re working out. You’ll get more flexibility as well as improving your overall mobility. Exercise has been proven to help decrease overall stress. Focus: The problem-solving skills you learn in martial arts can increase mental clarity. The process of learning that we use here at The Academy in its very nature, teaches all students “mental toughness,” also referred to as resilience.
What different programs does The Academy offer?
We offer four different programs at The Academy. We have a Kempo Kids class ages 4-6/7 (depending on height and maturity), a Shaolin Warriors class ages 7-12, a young adult class ages 12-15 and an adults class ages 16 and up. All of our students come in for a 30-minute private lesson every week as well as three group lessons. The group classes are divided by age not rank, so all of our students get to work with their own peer group and in their private lesson we utilize the time to cover new material. This way all of our students are progressing as quickly as possible and are not stuck or passed by the pace of the group.
What do you love about Reno and having your business in Reno?
Reno has it all! I love that you can drive 30 minutes in any direction and get everything from a sunny beach to a ski resort and everything in between. Reno has such a great culture of health and wellness as well as a huge desire to learn. Who wouldn’t want to have a business in such a great environment?
Tell us about your Kicking for a Cause Event-What, Why, When, etc.
We are doing a kick-a-thon fundraising event for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. All of our students are going around and collecting pledges for every kick they perform. Once we collect all the donations, our school is going to participate in the Nevada Multiple Sclerosis Walk on April 28th. We are also doing a sign-up drive for classes and a women’s empowerment class. All the proceeds from those events are going to be donated, along with all the pledges when we participate in the MS walk. Every year, our school chooses a non-profit here in town and raises money to donate through several different special events. This year we’re doing a sign-up drive from now until April 28. On April 14th we are hosting a Women’s Empowerment Class, which is a self-defense class designed for women (geared especially towards moms). We decided on the MS Society this year after my mom, who has MS herself, had some complications in her health. Several of my amazing clients suggested that this year we give to the organization that seeks a cure for the disease that affects the woman who has had the biggest impact in my life.
Pierce is offering all the Reno Moms Blog readers an additional $25 off the sign-up drive through April 28th. Just mention Reno Moms Blog! If you are interested in getting your kids into martial arts, or you are interested yourself, they always offer a free introductory class to everyone. You can come by, take a tour of the facility, as well as take a class. Also, please join the Women’s Empowerment class for free on April 14th! I have taken this class, and I can tell you that it is well worth it. I learned so much, and was able to retain what I learned because Pierce made it so straight forward and not complicated.
You can check out The Academy online here: www.theacademyreno.com or in person at 780 Smithridge Dr. Reno, NV 89502 behind the Trader Joe’s shopping center!