Building Confidence Through Martial Arts

By: proctor - February 9, 2012
I do not know much about martial arts except that I want to learn more one day. Why wait? I decided to start doing research because I have no idea where to begin. I don't know what class to take, where to take it, what to look for in an instructor (as someone in my mid-30s who has been a ballet dancer her whole life, I will not take kindly to an instructor who punishes me with a half-hour wall sit or 100 push-ups drill if I forget to ask for water), nor anything else for that matter. I came across this article that was published last week in the Salina Journal and found some of the info very helpful. Read Gary Demuth's article below:

"You have to repeat a move 300 times just for memory and 3,000 times for it to be muscle memory -- that's just one of hundreds of moves," he said. "And in 20 years, you might be good. Even after 20 years of doing this, I still feel like a novice."

Growing up in a gang-infested area of Fort Worth, Texas, Ernest Lazo was bullied and harassed -- until he decided to take matters into his own hands.

"Living in that culture, you have to learn to defend yourself, so I decided to train to have a self-defense mentality," he said.

Lazo began martial arts training in 1992. Twenty years later, he's running his own school, the Martial Arts Academy of Salina.

Lazo teaches classes for youths and adults at Carver Center through Salina Parks and Recreation, but his goal is to move his school into a permanent facility at 742 Duvall. He will share the space with boxing coach Cesareo Morales and Olympic weightlifting coach Dennis Espinosa under the banner "Team Salina."

"Our goal is to raise funds to renovate this building," Lazo said. "We have a vision for a recreation center for low-income families."

The Martial Arts Academy of Salina teaches a form of martial arts called American Karate, Lazo said, a system that incorporates elements of Taekwondo, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Kung Fu and American boxing. Lazo also teaches low-impact cardio and flexibility classes at Dino Strength Training Center, 703 Bishop.

"My ultimate goal is to have two locations in Salina -- a martial arts training school (at 742 Duvall) and mixed martial arts training at Dino, which is more sports training," he said.

Lazo originally came to Salina in 2000 to attend Kansas Wesleyan University as a biology major with a minor in chemistry and Spanish.

"I went to a college fair at Fort Worth and read about KWU," he said. "It appealed to me. I came from a big urban city, and I felt Salina was the type of environment I needed to succeed."

After graduating from KWU in 2004, Lazo worked two years as an admissions officer at Bethany College. After leaving Bethany in 2006, he enrolled in online graduate courses at Fort Hays State University. In December 2008, he earned a master's degree in organizational leadership.

While studying for his graduate degree, Lazo began taking martial arts classes at two schools, Sun Yi's Tai Kwon Do Academy and Absolute Martial Arts, which later became Premier Martial Arts. When the owner of Absolute Martial Arts saw how advanced Lazo was in his training, he was offered the job of chief instructor at the school.

After earning his graduate degree, Lazo started a new job in December 2008 with a work schedule that didn't allow him to continue teaching martial arts classes.

But after being laid off eight months later, Lazo was given a golden opportunity in fall 2009.

"Premier Martial Arts had moved to Wichita, and I had parents contact me wanting their children to continue their martial arts training with me," he said. "They were persistent. Because I wasn't working, I said, 'What do I have to lose?' and agreed."

Lazo went to Salina Parks and Recreation and talked to recreation program supervisor Tim Kerbs about teaching classes through the department. Lazo began teaching his first classes at Carver Center in January 2010.

Having just completed his second year in business, Lazo said he's looking forward to expanding the school in a new location and building a team of dedicated students who will continue practicing martial arts with him for years to come.

Dedication and patience is essential to being successful in martial arts, Lazo said.

"You have to repeat a move 300 times just for memory and 3,000 times for it to be muscle memory -- that's just one of hundreds of moves," he said. "And in 20 years, you might be good. Even after 20 years of doing this, I still feel like a novice."

Lazo said nothing is better than seeing a young student gain self-confidence when they begin mastering a martial arts move.

"I love seeing the kids when they can't believe they can do something, and then they find out they can," he said. "When they see they can do it, they get giddy."

To read the article online at the Salina Journal, click Ernest Lazo, Martial Arts Instructor.

About the Submitter


I have been an ACE certified personal trainer since 2000 who has trained over 3000 hours. I specialize in pre- and post-natal fitness, stretching, running, and weight loss. Yoga is also a passion for me and a way of life. I received my Yoga Alliance Teacher Certification in India and love to share the calmness, strength, and openness that yoga offers to people of all ages and abilities.

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