OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/12/13) – Teaching discipline, self-defense, and focus are just a few of the lessons Jennifer Coomes and her husband, Jack, offer at their martial arts school on Salem Drive.“It’s a commitment,” Jennifer Coomes said of Master Chai’s Martial Arts. “It’s not a place to exercise and leave.”
Coomes said she teaches a variety of different martial arts styles, including karate, tae kwon do, and tai chi. She said knowing multiple styles can help people incorporate a wider range of self-defense and exercise techniques.
“Tai chi is a moving meditation. It’s good for the joints and the mind,” she said.
In addition to blocking and kicking styles, Coomes provides instruction in kendo – swords, but she said she is very selective about who is allowed to take part in training with weapons.
“We don’t start children with weapons,” she said. “Children are not allowed to use weapons until they are invited. They’re not allowed to do any sparring. A parent has to want you to (learn kendo).”
She said to get invited, the child must have earned at least a green belt, and demonstrated discipline in their duties at school and at home.
“If they get in trouble at school, they’re in trouble here,” she said. “They have to report back if they’ve done their chores.”
Coomes said she also uses her classes to teach kids about safety, and how to use the self-defense skills they learn to avoid a fight, not to win it. The first motto kids are taught is “walk away.” The second is “find a mom.” She said when a child gets separated from his or her parents, it’s best to find a mother because that person will be more likely to stay with the child until they find their parents, and to help them at the customer desk if in a store.
Coomes began her training with Master Chai a few years ago as something she could do with her husband, who’d been training since the late 90’s.
“I started practicing and he’ll never catch up with me again,” she said, jokingly. She has a black belt in multiple styles and said she is trained in use of every weapon in the martial arts school.
Her family is involved with the school as well, she said. Her oldest child has a green belt, though no longer trains. She said her five year old also has a green belt, and she spends time with her three year old teaching her the basics.
She said she is planning a kids camp program, but hasn’t finalized the details for that yet.
Coomes spoke about her business during a Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting held Tuesday.
Photo provided by Missy Gant
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