Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Martial arts classes kick off at new spot
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Apr 2, 2013, 12:59

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Martial Arts World in Hopewell offers before and after-school programs, classes for children and adults, and a women’s self-defense class.

A new martial arts facility has opened its doors in Hopewell despite still being under construction.

Martial Arts World offers before and after-school programs, classes for children and adults, and a women’s self-defense class.

Stephanie Lagasse, CEO of the new facility, became involved in martial arts after her children began the practice.

“Why sit on the sidelines while they’re on the mat? So I got out there with them, and I just fell in love with it,” Lagasse said.

Lagasse worked her way to earning a black belt. She began teaching women’s self-defense classes, which led to her opening this new facility.

“I had outgrown the space we were in and I wanted to start the after-school program, which led me here, “ Lagasse said.

Children are picked up from school or dropped off by parents for this program. The program offers time for the children to do homework, have a snack, and a short playtime. After this, everyone changes into their Dobok, a traditional uniform worn in martial arts, and the children are taught a full martial arts class.

Lagasse describes her martial arts classes as a character-building program.

“Each month there’s a specific trait, such as honesty or integrity, that we focus on every day,” Lagasse said.

The facility also includes an anti-bullying program, which teaches the children how to defend themselves against verbal, physical and mental bullying.

“It’s not about learning to fight, but to defend yourself in every way,” Lagasse said. “Against life attacks, against bad attitudes, against everything.”

Lagasse said one of her main goals for running the martial arts school is to make a difference for the children in the area, and to educate them as much as possible, to build their confidence and keep them healthy and happy.

“Every child needs that. Every child needs the lessons that are taught here,” Lagasse said.

While the after-school program is a main focus at Martial Arts World, evening classes are open to all ages and all skill levels. The all-ladies self-defense class is held once a week.

Although the interior of the building is still being finished, the facility is open and classes are being held. The facility is currently accepting new members as well as volunteers.

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