Scientist trades career to be martial arts school owner
Scientist trades career to be martial arts school owner
For the Pocono Record
April 29, 2007
Martial arts is more than just breaking wood or action movies scenes or public exhibitions.
It's a lifestyle and a philosophy that Martha Heise of Shawnee-on-Delaware has embraced as a student and then as an instructor for the last 11 years. While working her way through the belt system to third-degree black belt, Heise has shared her love for Tang Soo Do, a karate discipline rooted in South Korea, with her 35 students.
She directs the Rising Phoenix Martial Arts Academy that relocated last year to the 1,100-square-foot building at the Old Mill Plaza on Business Route 209 in Sciota.
Previously, the center was at the Chestnuthill Plaza; Heise moved for "visibility" because this center has more windows and proximity to much of her student base in the West End as well as a good location for many schools.
"We emphasize the individual and tailor the curriculum to their needs," said Heise. "It improves flexibility and self-defense, but each individual trains to their unique growth. Our motto is to help students reach potential by putting in time and hard work."
Heise is assisted by second-degree black belt Mike Kuehner of McMichaels and also has retired mentor Joseph Leone of Forty Fort, a fourth-degree master who conducts two classes a week, as well as assistant instructor Dan Ackers of Scotrun.
They not only teach the skills of hand-to-hand combat but also work with wooden props such as daggers, swords and canes which are used more for outdoor classes. "It's hand-eye coordination and basic skills," said Heise.
"Martial arts are coming back. You see more of it on TV and in the movies," said Heise, who has classes of varying sizes and age levels. Although many programs are geared to children and their development, there also is an adult program on weeknights and Saturdays for people who want exercise and to relieve stress.
There also are "Buddy Days" — where students can bring a friend or can "buddy up" with Heise — on the second Wednesday of every month, with a youth class beginning at 5:30 p.m., followed by an adult class at 6:45.
The parent guidebook reads: "We pledge to help young people learn patience, concentration, humility, self-discipline, self-control and respect."
"The first thing is you walk away from a problematic conflict and if you can't walk away, you talk your way out of it, and if you can't do that, then you go to your training and defending yourself," said Ackers. "If you have to resort to physical violence, you've kind of lost. Human beings should be able to settle things more civilized."
Heise took over the school four years ago in Chestnuthill when Randy Kuehner, cousin of Mike, relocated to Eagle Rock, Va. Heise was an assistant for four years under Kuehner when she got the opportunity.
Heise first was interested in Tang Soo Do when she took it as a self-defense course offered to female students at the University of Scranton while she studied molecular biology. She wanted physical activity but not what is typically offered in a gym. She took to it right away and became so completely committed that she left her job in 2004 as [rpjectmanager at Sanofi Pasteur after 11 years to totally dedicate herself to the demands of the art.
"We keep it positive control here and reward positive behavior," she said.
She feels it has yielded positive results.
"There are more kids with ADD attention deficit disorder, and other chllanges. This is an outlet for energetic kids as well as kids with obesity," said Heise. "This is something beyond three months of baseball and provides year-round training and helps kids get discipline, exercise in social interaction and develop skills in conflict. It's a win-win situation."
She said there are cases where parents bring their children for classes and are so impressed that they take the classes themselves. Along with physical skills, nutrition also is discussed.
The Turkington family all have been students in the program, starting first with son Kyle, now 12, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"We heard from the school psychologist when he was 8 that martial arts is very good and now with physical education offered less in schools, we felt this is another type of fitness program that is pretty significant and was able to help him with his focus and to keep his medication levels down," said mom Marcy. "It's a very good skill level for strength training and building self-confidence. Actually, it touches on so many different aspects."
Shortly after Kyle started classes, his dad, Scott, watched and decided to participate. Both now are moving closer to black belt status. Natives of Pennsylvania, they commute nowadays from their home in Newton, N.J., three days a week for classes.
"This helped Scott tremendously because he has arthritis in his hip and now has much better flexibility that he was able to postpone surgery and dropped 30 pounds," said Marcy. "It also helped me because it's such a great workout aerobically and, for women, it's empowering to be able to use your body not only for strength but for self-defense. It's great bonding for families, and it's such a family supportive environment here."
Dawn Cole of Saylorsburg also appreciates what the program has done for her 8-year-old daughter, Amanda, a second-grader at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
"She loves it," said Dawn, whose daughter is a brown belt and has attended classes for 2½ years and goes to Rising Phoenix three days a week.
"I heard through a friend that it's the place to go. We had tried other centers in the area but found this is what I was looking for," said Cole. "Once we got involved, I love that the instructors are always available to talk to parents and review the students' goals. She's very bright and focused and is learning to set goals for herself and sees great pride in achieving them."
Heise said she also is interested in the diverse mixture of students who grew up in the West End area or moved there as well as those who drive in from other areas.
"It's a diverse group, a good cross-section of people, and it's good working with people and how they apply the same concept in different ways," said Ackers. "Some are faster and more agile, some more powerful."
For details on Rising Phoenix Martial Arts Academy, call 570 992-5157 or visit www.risingphoenixmartialarts.com.
Kinda similar to this thread
where someone leaves what normally may be associated with a more lucrative career to teach martial arts.
What gets me more than anything is the writing style these articles tend to have. Conversations with typical McDojo types don't tend to annoy the hell out of me quite like that 'reportery' style.
Have said that, keep throwing 'em up there PizDoff...good times!