Vail Valley Bizwatch: Shotokan Karate of Vail |

Vail Valley Bizwatch: Shotokan Karate of Vail

Special to the DailySensei Jeffrey Heermans is the lead instructor at Shotokan Karate of Vail. The company will move its downvalley studio from Eagle to Gypsum Feb. 1.

Business name: Shotokan Karate of Vail

Locations: Eagle Valley Elementary School and Edwards Elementary School.

Date opened: The club dates back to 1973 with Sensei David Johnston as its first instructor until 1980. Other instructors are John Burdick, Linda Frazer, Lyn Morgan, Trina Jacobson and Jeffrey Heermans.

Owner: Sensei Jeffrey Heermans.

Contact information:

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Phone: 970-390-7379 or 970-524-2349.


What goods or services do you provide? Shotokan Karate, the art of empty-handed martial arts, training the mind body and spirit for woman, men and children both young and old.

Through aerobic and non-aerobic exercise, you can increase your flexibility, strength, self-confidence, discipline and self-defense by challenging yourself and setting goals with Eagle County’s longest running martial arts program.

What’s new and exciting at your place? I have been teaching the classes through the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District since 2000. On Feb. 1, our Eagle Club will be moving from Eagle Valley Elementary School to the Gypsum rec center. No more concrete floors!

Also: Last month I had two students test for and pass their “Second Dan” (Black belt) exam – Jack Dunlevie from Eagle and Kyle Light from our Two Rivers Karate in west Glenwood Springs.

What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? I look at everyone as an individual, a potential student rather than a customer. Each person has individual need. Some students are stiff and may not be able to touch the floor, while may be very flexible. Some are very athletic, some are not. You may be looking to improve your health, learn self-defense, relieve stress, obtain mental awareness, exercise or get into karate for competition.

One of my instructors once said, “Training in karate teaches us not only self-defense but to respect others as well as ourselves. We train our body to be strong, and our mind and spirit to be patient, in order to become the best human beings we can be. Karate is a spiritual endeavor, a way to develop a person as an individual. Everything we learn in the dojo, or training hall is not always easy, often times it can be very difficult and demanding. This is also true of life. If we can overcome obstacles in our training, it enables us to have strong character to do the same in our everyday lives.”

Our school’s mission is to be one of the most reputable and respected organizations, dedicated to promote the preservation and education of Shotokan Karate and its traditions.

What can your customers expect from you? A class that will push them as individuals to their maximum potential by helping students obtain their goals, in Karate and life.

Tell us a little about your background, education and experience: My background started in the late 60’s in both Goju Ryu and Tae Kwon-Do. I moved to the Vail area in 1973 and started in Shotokan Karate in 1975 under Sensei (teacher or instructor) David Johnston. At that time he was a Second Dan – now as a Seventh Dan, Sensei Johnston is still teaching in California.

In 1980 I started training with Sensei Yutaka Yaguchi, the chief instructor of the Mountain States region. He is still my instructor – I train with every month at his Dojo in Denver. In 1986 I joined the Japan Karate Association’s instructor training program.

I have been training since 1975 and going to tournaments since the early 1980s. I am a five-time Japan Karate Association U.S. Nationals Senior Kata Champion and a seven-time International Shotokan Karate Federation U.S. Nationals Senior Kata Champion.

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