WHEELING - Art East is an artist in man forms- sculptor, blacksmith, woodcarver, poet - but it was his experience in martial arts that granted him worldwide recognition.
East, an orthopedic technician at Ohio Valley Medcial Center, was inducted into the hall of fame and received the Master Award of the Year 2014 by the World Head of Family Sokeship Council. East is a master instructor, also known as shihan - an honorary title for an expert instructor - who has been involved with bushido kempo-style martial arts for 41 years under grand master Gary Dill.
Motivated by his mother, East enrolled in martial arts to give him stability and a positive structure in his life, East noted.
"I am glad my mother never let me quit because I am humbled and honored to receive this recognition," said East. "Now I see life as a team sport, and I want to share harmony and stability with others."
Through his personal experience, East recognizes that martial arts is more than just physical motions, and emotional content is very important in the art. Specifically, East recognizes the growing trend in American society of bullying, which is a concept he has dealt with in his life.
"What I have learned is that it mostly comes down to emotions because a bully can only have control of someone if they let them," said East. "When a bully sees that you aren't going to be a victim, they step back."
Locally, East imparts his knowledge from four decades of experience in martial arts to people through self-defense courses at CentreTown Fitness. East has witnessed people who have been bullied gain strength and self-esteem after they have been involved in martial arts classes. He attributes the positive outcome to the structure people learn in class, and often these people, with their newly discovered strengths, take what they learn and become leaders in the community.
"What is unique about bushido kempo martial arts is that once someone has a core understanding of the system, then each person creates their own style by capitalizing on his or her strengths and minimizing their weaknesses," said East.
East's classes at Centretown Fitness are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. Class enrollment is open to anyone 8 and older.