By: Tom Fink | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: May 2019
Chris Velez, Martial Arts Academy of Owasso owner and instructor.
Since 2003, Martial Arts Academy of Owasso has been planting the seeds in its students to allow them to grow into respectful, disciplined adults.
With area schools preparing to let out for summer break, now is the ideal time for students – and their parents – to visit the academy to learn more about all it has to offer.
“One of the benefits of summer is that students are out of school, and adults may have extra time that they don’t have the rest of the year, so it’s really one of the most opportune low-risk times for people to try out martial arts and see if it’s something they might be interested in long-term,” said Chris Velez, martial arts instructor and business owner.
Velez said students and adults of all ages come to his academy during the summer to “try it out” for 30 days, and learn of its benefits and in turn, “make room for it” in their busy schedules year-round.
Students of all ages and skill levels begin class with a warmup.
“Among the key benefits of studying martial arts, apart from gaining the obvious skill of self-defense, is discipline,” Velez said.
“Basically, everything the students do here is working on discipline and focus in some way, particularly if you define ‘discipline’ as the ability to ignore what you feel like to do what you know is right or what you choose to do,” he said. “Essentially, discipline is the ability to not be ruled by your feelings – whether it’s reacting to commands, practicing on the floor or what have you, they’re instructed to remain in a certain stance, so from the very beginning, they’re learning discipline.”
Velez said commands given during classes require a specific response – typically, a “yes, sir” or “no, sir,” which trains students to discipline themselves to be attentive.
“Typically, people may think of the ‘yes, sir’ or ‘no, sir’ responses in the ‘respect’ category, which certainly is one part of that, but even more than respect, it helps them focus on listening and in that, to discipline themselves not to be distracted by all they’ve got going on in their mind,” he said. “Oftentimes, people – students and adults – have a lot of ‘televisions’ going on in their head. Requiring them to respond to a command not only disciplines their minds, but it keeps them present and calls them back to where they are and what they’re doing, should their minds start to wander.”
Although Velez said many of his students come into the academy with “zero” experience, instructors help first-timers and those with more experience to be comfortable and ready to learn in a “distraction-free” environment, which promotes “laser beam” focus on the task at hand.
“Even beginning students – the 4-through-6-year-olds – they have the ability to learn discipline, to be focused, they just need the right environment, the right motivation to do so,” he said. “They want to do well, but for their potential to become a reality, you kind of have to put a demand on that (potential), so all we’re doing is setting a standard for them, and they all do well with that. The 6-and-7-year-olds tend to lose focus quickly, but with just a little bit of work, they’re able to get through a class and stay focused and disciplined just as well as the adults can.”
Velez said helping students – including adults – focus helps them to gain not only self-discipline but confidence as they advance in martial arts.
“Early on, we’re establishing what we expect of our students – their attention, their focus, etc. – which the parents then reinforce,” he said. “In the long term, it’s our objective that our students – through learning confidence and discipline – are able to make better decisions, which will help them as they go through life, and as they become more independent – that’s really what it comes down to, because all the difficult decisions they make once they leave mom and dad come down to a degree of having discipline and confidence.
“With every decision a person makes – at any stage in life, but especially when someone is young – there’s a certain amount of pressure, and handling that pressure demands discipline,” he said. “Discipline will help them to think more clearly, and to maybe make a decision which they don’t prefer, but which they know is right.”
Martial Arts Academy is a full-time academy, with classes offered Mondays through Thursdays, and on Saturdays.
“One or two days a week consistently will allow students to progress,” he said, “but with summer nearly upon us, now is really the ideal time for anyone who’s ever considered martial arts to ‘try us out’ and see if it’s what they’re looking for. We’re very much a family environment here, with students from 4 years old all the way up to 71. In some instances we even have multiple generations in class – grandma, mom, dad and the kids. It’s something that anyone who tries it out and stays with it can benefit from.”
Instructor Cirilo teaches students proper form and technique.
Training at Martial Arts Academy is more than a workout, exercise or fitness program. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself.