Reconnecting with Martial Arts at Santa Barbara Dojo
Learning Hapkido with Kids from Austin Curtis and Melodee Meyer
By Jun Starkey | January 27, 2022
I had practiced martial arts when I was very young, specifically karate and jiu-jitsu, but it had been so long that I assumed I’d be clueless when I took my first class at Santa Barbara Dojo. Luckily, mother-and-son owners Melodee Meyer and Austin Curtis offer hapkido, kickboxing, and karate classes for many ages, so my classmates were mostly young children, ranging from about 6 to 12 years old. I suddenly didn’t feel embarrassed about any missteps.
Curtis was obviously well-admired by his students, who listened attentively as he talked about hapkido, a Korean martial art similar to jiu-jitsu. We learned basic kicks and punches, how to block, and how to fall safely. Then we moved on to a takedown, a move that involves blocking a punch, and using some slight footwork and your opponent’s weight to put them on the ground.
After a well-deserved meditation to end our 45-minute session, Curtis awarded one student a special patch for good choices, specifically making the decision to come to class even when he wasn’t in the mood. The young boy took it easily, and all of the kids seemed to have the confidence of much older children, or even young adults. The art of self-defense is a confidence boost, Curtis said, and promotes a state of mind that is beneficial for all ages.
122 E. Gutierrez St.; (805) 963-6233; santabarbaradojo.com
Read all of the stories in this year’s Self-Care issue here.
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