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Fist of fun in Eagle County

Special to the Daily/Randy Wyrick
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EAGLE, Colorado – Inside even the most timid of us is a warrior fighting to get out.

Local martial arts schools are helping kids and adults release their inner warrior, but more importantly how to focus that warrior toward something positive.

By the way, there are two local schools: Inyodo Martial Arts in Edwards and Eagle, and the James Lee School of Champions in Eagle.



Martial arts teaches the lessons valued in most positive activities: Self reliance, respect for others and for themselves, fitness of mind and body, and that there is no such thing as instant gratification. In reaching long-term goals, you’ll achieve many short term goals.

It’s like this:



If you see a kid in the schoolyard drop into a fighting stance without good reason, that kid has not learned those lessons.

On the other hand, when the time comes and the kid is put to the test, he’ll know what to do.

“It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.”



– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Inyodo put dozens of martial arts students through testing late last week. They passed because they had prepared. Eight black belts were lined up in the front of the room, their panel of judges.

“Work hard, and even when you’re not all that confident and you act confident, you’ll find what you need will come out when you need it. It’s all inside you,” said Paul Massei, a black belt who helped with the testing.

Do stuff right, students are taught. Sometimes it earns you praise and reward, but more often you learn that doing something right is its own reward.

“We certainly expect them to learn how to protect themselves. And to remember that studying the martial arts is the study of self defense, not offense,” said Paul Witt, a life-long martial arts student.

Witt is a black belt, studying with James Lee. He needs a black belt. His sons, Ben, 13 and David, 11 are both black belts. Sebastian, 8, is a purple belt and coming on fast. Earlier this summer Sebastian earned a world championship title in the United States Karate Alliance world championships.

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

– Sun Tzu, the Art of War

It’s one thing to get nervous and misspell “interlocutionist” on a test like I just did, then relieve those frustrations by breaking a board.

It’s quite another when breaking a board is your test. Or two boards. Or a brick. And to be prepared with the necessary knowledge and skill.

In the Inyodo school testing, a few kids hit their boards a dozen times or more, timidly at first then with more focus. Focus begets ferocity, and they finally snapped them in half.

Then there was 5 year old Molly Reeder. Maybe she’s the product of good parenting because her parents tend to keep her away from Barney reruns, or maybe she’s too young to realize she’s supposed to be apprehensive.

Either way, she strode confidently up to her board, uncorked a roundhouse and snapped it like a losing streak. Then she stepped back and grinned, a beaming, beatific grin.

Breaking boards is good. Breaking focus is bad. If you break focus, you won’t break boards.

When they’re not focused students tend to forget to respond, “Yes sir, no sir/yes ma’am, no ma’am,” which, like so many other aspects of the martial arts, must produce automatic excellence.

There is a right way to do things, and they will be done that way and no other, the same correct way they’ve been done for thousands of years.

“Know yourself and you will win all battles.”

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War


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