Students of the martial arts have long come to downtown Fort Dodge for classes in Suite 5 at 900 Central Ave. - the Trolley Center. What was previously named Hemann Martial Arts, however, has been renamed Midwest Combat Arts Center and has new owners.
Mitch Pearson and Jeff Stanek took the helm of the business on Jan. 1 and plan to broaden and enhance its offerings.
"We offer martial arts," Stanek said. "We have three different disciplines. ... The first one is Tae Kwon Do. The second one is Ni Shurite Kempo. The third is Sogo Ryu Bujutsu. ... You'd have to go to Des Moines to find this much variety."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Midwest Combat Arts Center owners Mitch Pearson, left, and Jeff Stanek, stop to talk with instructor Andy Birzer, right, during a recent class conducted in their studio. The studio is in the Trolley Center.
The Center also offers self-defense classes and this month is adding a cardio class targeted at people who are primarily interested in fitness.
"We'll have a cardio class with a martial arts flavor to it," Stanek said.
The new owners plan to provide attractive options for an eclectic cross-section of Fort Dodgers. They stressed that the classes are open to both men and women and the age range of existing and potential students is broad.
"For the Tae Kwon Do classes it's going to be pretty much 5 and up," Pearson said. "Thirteen and up for the other two martial arts classes."
All the classes will be taught by experienced instructors.
"All of our masters have 20 or 30 years experience," Stanek said.
The reasons people begin to participate in martial arts classes vary.
"Discipline, fitness, to challenge yourself," Pearson said, reflecting on why students are attracted to the Center. "I think it always starts out as kind of a sport. Your appreciation and growing knowledge of it takes you to that next level. ... There's also a social aspect of learning something like this."
Once they begin, Pearson said, it is common for people to be lifelong devotees.
"I've been doing it for 10 years," he said. "One of the masters has been doing it for 30 years."
Stanek said many people who may start out on a whim become passionate about martial arts.
"You get a sense of accomplishment. You start building rank," he said. "There's the social part. It's like a family. You look forward to coming to see the guys."
Pearson added that the martial arts disciplines are "self-challenging. ... You get what you put into it."
Both owners emphasized that an immediate goal is to increase the community's awareness of what their Center provides. They encourage anyone interested to give consideration to one or more of the classes.
"Don't be scared to try it," Stanek said. "Anyone can do it."
Meet the owners
The owners both are dedicated to the martial arts, but have additional professional pursuits.
Stanek is originally from Callender. He graduated from Prairie Valley High School in 1990. Then it was on to Iowa State University where he completed a bachelor's degree in animal science in 1994.
"I farm and I own Jeff's Jons, portable toilets," he said. He is the fifth generation of his family to operate a Century Farm near Callender.
Pearson is also originally from Callender. He graduated from Prairie Valley High School in 1996. After high school he earned an associate degree in industrial technology from Iowa Central Community College. For five years he has worked full time with the Iowa Air National Guard, 133rd Test Squadron, in Fort Dodge where he is a quality assurance specialist. Pearson has been in the Iowa Air National Guard for 13 years.
"It's just something I always wanted to do - a childhood dream," he said.
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org