Bel Air News and Views sponsor PRO Martial Arts has opened a new location in the Shops at Bel Air South offering Korean martial arts instruction for adults and children ages 3-17. Here are the details:
New PRO Martial Arts in Bel Air offers Korean martial arts with a focus on character building and anti-bullying
When Mike Tagliaferri of Bel Air was selecting a business to start, he knew he wanted to continue working with kids the way he did while coaching his children’s baseball and soccer teams. He and his wife Kathy decided to open a PRO Martial Arts franchise this past spring in the Shops at Bel Air South to help children excel not only in Korean martial arts, but also in building character.
“We’re giving core principles and basic foundations to bring children up to be responsible adult leaders in the community, more disciplined when they go to college,” Tagliaferri says. “Some of these things will stick with them for rest of their lives.”
Instead of fielding a competitive team, PRO Martial Arts offers extensive instruction in character building and focuses on its ARMOR® Bullying & Predator Prevention program.
“I was bullied as a child because I was extremely overweight and I had low self esteem,” says Master Ed Samane, CEO of PRO Martial Arts, which he founded in King of Prussia, Pa. in 2009. PRO Martial Arts now has 60 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
He started attending karate classes at age 11 with two Korean friends of his.
“I lost 50 pounds and it changed my perspective on life,” Samane says. “I saw an opportunity to improve an industry, to systemize it and help children. My goal is to not just improve the industry, but to impact as many kids’ lives as possible. I know what it did for me.”
Tagliaferri says PRO Martial Arts’ philosophy fit with his ideas on how he and his wife raised their own son and two daughters, all graduates of St. Margaret and John Carroll schools, who are now in their 20s.
“I think it’s timely for today’s society and what we seem to need.”
Bullying is a big problem today and not just in schools, Tagliaferri says of the program that also teaches kids what do to if they encounter online bullying.
“We teach them how do you assess the situation and how do you avoid that situation?” he says. “And if you feel threatened, do you have the self defense skills you need to protect yourself?”
When online, Tagliaferri says they teach kids to unplug if they start to feel embarrassed or afraid and to talk to a parent or other adult about anything that makes them uncomfortable.
“Don’t sit online and engage,” he says of what they tell students. “It will take you deeper and deeper into it and make you feel worse. Or maybe you’ll do something you’re not proud of. We try to make them understand the difference between bullying and teasing.”
He says a typical class starts with an instructor warming students up with martial arts moves. Half way through the class, they gather for a “mat chat” where the instructor will focus on the character-building lesson for the month.
“The instructor will ask, ‘Does anybody know what responsibility is? The kids will say what they think it is,” Tagliaferri says, “And then we ask, ‘Have you shown responsibility?’ They raise their hand and tell the class what they did that was responsible. We’re making them understand what responsibility means.”
The lessons follow the students home where they keep a chart of duties they must complete in order to demonstrate both character development and self-discipline. The jobs list includes such things as making their beds, cleaning their rooms and brushing their teeth, which their parents initial when they complete a chore.
“They have to complete the jobs list before they test for the next belt,” Tagliaferri says.
To earn a stripe on their belt, they must also complete a self-discipline card, which shows they were able to accomplish 10 things each, without being told.
“Now the child is thinking for themselves and doing things on their own,” he says.
Tagliaferri says his program is open to students dealing with challenges like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.
“We’ll spend time one on one with them. We’ll do things to get them to integrate with the regular class. We welcome those kinds of kids. They need help, too,” Tagliaferri says.
At PRO Martial Arts, he says the students can only earn their first belt after they learn to say “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes, Sir” when their instructor asks them something.
“We expect this to transcend to the home,” he says, “We tell parents you need to continue to discuss this at home and reinforce this at home.
The parents of students in his program say it’s working.
“He’s cleaning his room on his own and doing a lot of chores on his own that he usually wouldn’t do,” Peter Wesolowski of Bel Air says of his 10-year-old son Evan.
“His interaction with adults is always respectful. Not that it wasn’t before, but it’s ratcheted up a notch.”
Liane Bell of Abingdon, whose 5-year-old son Kaiden is at PRO Martial Arts, says, “I am so happy that we found PRO Martial Arts. He was never a disruptive or overly aggressive kid, but the program has really reeled him in to his emotions, his feelings, the way other people think. It’s more than karate. It’s about respect and he listens to me. It’s not just the karate part of it. It’s raising a 5 year old to be a young man.”
Samane says of the Tagliaferris, “They really believed in the concept. They wanted to help kids. They wanted to give back to the community. They have a passion for child mentorship and they want to keep kids safe from bullying and predators.”
“If we can change a few kids lives for the better,” Tagliaferri says, “then it’s worth it.”
PRO Martial Arts’ newest location in Bel Air is currently offering TWO FREE TRIAL classes, Stop by at Shops at Bel Air South, 2108 Emmorton Rd. 5, Bel Air, MD 21014. Visit promartialarts.com/belair to redeem YOUR TWO FREE CLASSES! Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/PRO-Martial-Arts-Bel-Air/891642617545190. Or call (443) 456-3752.
This post was sponsored by PRO Martial Arts