Podcast 15: Middleburg Martial Arts Instructors Reflect on Opening a New School and What Black Belt Means to Them

Podcast 15: Middleburg Martial Arts Instructors Reflect on Opening a New School and What Black Belt Means to Them

What prompted you to open a new martial arts school in Fleming Island, Florida?

Master Macy: We’ve had Middleburg Martial Arts [in nearby Middleburg, Florida] for over 20 years, and we’re excited to open a sister school, Ripple Effect Martial Arts, in response to the demand from the community for our programs. We’re holding classes now, and our grand opening is scheduled for October.

We’re at a stage where students, who were young when they began training at Middleburg Martial Arts, are bringing in their own kids. We’ve been so fortunate to influence the lives of kids and people in this community; some of our students have graduated from prestigious universities, like the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and gone on to great careers.

We want to positively impact more lives through the Ripple Effect Martial Arts school in Fleming Island. That’s our goal with the new school.

Mr. Braden, what’s your history in the martial arts?

My dad trained in the martial arts when he was young, and I was always into anime, ninjas, typical kid stuff [laughs]. Then a friend and neighbor actually started in martial arts for real at Middleburg [Martial Arts], and I joined up. That was almost 10 years ago.

Master Macy, what do you love about teaching martial arts?

I’ve been training in martial arts since I was 4 years old. My whole family trained, and family atmosphere is very important to all of us at the school. I begged my parents to put me into karate at the school we were at in California (they started the Little Dragons at 4 years old). No matter what I was doing as I was growing up, martial arts was always a major part of my life.

Mr. Braden, what it’s like to teach adults how to fight, how to defend themselves, teach them to be leaders?

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot. I’m often teaching people twice my age, teaching them life skills I learned as a young kid. And it’s all because of this school [Middleburg Martial Arts]. There are little things we can always work on and improve on, even as adults. And with humility, we can always be humble enough to learn.

Master Macy: It’s something that we always embody in our culture, that you’re always learning. That means you’re learning from your instructors, and the instructors are learning from our students. Even the little students, the 5 year olds, we’re always learning from.

What’s something you’ve learned from kids in the course of teaching and training?

Ms. Becky: Confidence. My son needed that confidence boost. He was really scared to try new things as a kid, and he’s now 19 years old and a real leader. He can be assertive when need be. Sometimes I could say he almost has too much confidence [laughs]. Seeing that confidence improve in my own child, and in other children, has translated to my experience as an instructor.

You teach Tang Soo Do. Is there something specific about the Tang Soo Do style of martial arts that imparts these positive qualities to your students?

Mr. Braden: I would say, for me, it’s the tradition. A lot of it falls back on the backbone of martial arts, the focus, the discipline, the leadership in martial arts, the things that make instructors the role models for kids.

Master Macy: That’s what I would say too. Practicing Tang Soo Do forms that have been around for a thousand years, practicing those forms thousands of times, that’s belonging to a tradition in earning your black belt.

Do you delve into the history of the Korean martial arts in your classes?

Yes, every belt test students are required to know elements of Korean terminology and history. We use Korean language increasingly in your classes as you level up. By the time you get to our advanced classes, all the commands are in Korean.

Ms. Becky, what inspired you to teach martial arts?

Just seeing the impact of martial arts on other people’s lives, including my own. Just that feeling of earning a black belt.

What does it mean to earn a black belt?

Mr. Braden: One of my favorite sayings is, you don’t earn a black belt, you become a black belt. For me personally, I learned many of the skills of black belt but I didn’t practice them before I actually become a black belt. It’s not something you choose; it’s something that happens in the course of a dedication to training.

Regardless of a 1st degree black belt or 4th degree master black belt, it’s your attitude that defines you. I realized I’m in a position to help others.

Master Macy: Black belt tests are one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. If getting a black belt were easy, everyone would be a black belt. But it’s rare. It takes a lot of hard work, but it’s a lot of fun on the way. Knowing you’ve gone through this intense black belt testing weekend is so empowering.

I’ve had students say to me, as they’ve made a leap forward in their career or in school, that they know that having earned a black belt they can do anything. They know they can achieve very big goals.

How do students sign up for classes at Ripple Effect Martial Arts in Fleming Island?

Students can go to MyFreeKarate.com to sign up and start taking classes. Go get signed up now, we can’t wait to see you!

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