BURGETTSTOWN - The PKA Karate Academy, located on the second floor at 1445 Main St., above Luanne's School of Dance, recently welcomed new instructor and satellite director Brandon Law.
His goal is to double the number of students currently enrolled at the academy, with classes in American Kenpo for children aged 3 through 15 and Kung Fu classes for adults aged 16 and up.
"(Martial Arts) are great for developing discipline and respect and helping people get into shape," said Law.
He added the children's classes in particular would focus on discipline, respect for others and self-defense.
"Studying martial arts has given me a lot of discipline," he said. "When I was younger, I had a temper, but when I started martial arts, people told me I had more discipline and more respect as a result."
His interest in martial arts was sparked by Jackie Chan and Jet Lee.
"I fell in love with the Chinese arts," he said.
Law enjoys Ed Parker's Kenpo system because, "there's no wasted movement - what goes around comes back around."
The children's classes are relaxed and family friendly and include both group and one-on-one instruction.
"Martial arts isn't just about learning to kick and punch, it's about learning to be a better person," he said. "We teach discipline and focus, and that's not just useful for martial arts, but for jobs, school - just about anything."
Children are allowed to learn at their own pace, with the group studying fundamentals in 10-week blocks, with testing available at the end of a block. There are eight steps in memorization and discipline to be mastered.
"It's a great way of teaching and growing character," said Law.
Classes are directed toward improving confidence and self-defense, not competition.
"I really enjoy working with the children - they aren't just my students, they're like my brothers and sisters," he said. "One of my biggest joys is sharing what I know and enjoy with them. The children are a blessing."
The adult classes are open to all interested adults and older adults can improve balance and flexibility through martial arts training.
"There is some cardio," said Law. "It's mostly reactive muscle memory and how to breath properly to maximize your body's capabilities. Chi is about learning to breath and focus. It's about learning to use what your body has more efficiently. I've known a few people who have done (martial arts) to lose weight, and it worked well for them."
Law has 15 years of experience in martial arts and is trained in several styles, including Southern Tiger, boxing, kick boxing, grappling, Kali, empty-hand Kali, Wing Chun, knife, Eagle, bo staff, Poekoelan Tjmindie and American Kenpo.
He has studied at the Society of the Arts Martial Arts/Survival club in Wheeling, where he earned a second degree black belt and certification as a sensei; Golden Valley Dragon Kung Fu School in Steubenville, where he earned a blue sash; Strike Force 2, where he earned a first degree white belt; and PKA Karate in Pittsburgh, where he earned a purple belt.
Law was rated fifth in the nation in fighting at the 2007 Professional Karate Commission National Championships and first in fighting at the Pennsylvania at the 34th annual Pennsylvania Karate Championships.
He was a stunt man for a fight scene in the independent film "Dark Target" and fight choreographer for indie film "The True Master."
Law is a member of the Professional Karate Commission and is a Steubenville, Ohio, resident. He is an Art Institute of Pittsburgh graduate.
Three- and 4-year-old classes are held at 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; 5- through 8-year-old classes are held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; 9- through 15-year-old classes are held at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; and adult classes are held at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
For information, call PKA Karate at (412) 531-4411 or visit the website at pkakarate.com.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)