Union Karate Center owner and head instructor Jamie Vaughn says his students do not learn fighting — they learn life skills.
The Union Karate Center will host a Back to School Bash/open house/registration event on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 6 p.m. Vaughn said the event will be a party-like atmosphere with refreshments and socializing, giving current students an opportunity to register for new classes. The event will also give parents and children who are interested in the school a chance to come in, talk with instructors and get a look at the school.
“Some kids are scared to come in because they think we’re in here fighting,” Vaughn said. “But my kids don’t fight — they have fun.”
Vaughn said that only about a quarter of his students spar with each other, and that only takes place in classes specific to the UKC competition team that competes in tournaments.
Vaughn said no matter what class students take, the core is always respect, confidence and self awareness. He also said he will discuss anti-bullying tactics and stranger awareness during the Back to School Bash and continue to discuss them throughout the year.
“We try to focus on building confidence and nonviolent means to counteract bullying — avoiding confrontation to begin with,” Vaughn said. “We don’t just teach them how to fight.”
Vaughn described the instructors, students and parents of UKC as one big family. He said it makes him proud when he is complimented for the amount of respect shown by students, especially when they travel outside the county to represent UKC in tournaments.
“The kids run back and forth to the rings to cheer each other on,” he said. “They always congratulate each other for doing a good job, whether they win or lose.”
UKC will continue to offer its Little Dragons, Little Ninjas and junior classes, but new classes will also be added for the 2012-2013 school year. New classes will include Kid Jitzu (kids grappling), Krav Maga (for adults only) and Kung Fu.
In addition to new classes, the UKC will also introduce a new instructor — Missy Kirby Wilkes.
Wilkes has been in the fitness industry for 15 years, and she studied Shotokan under the teaching of Mike Clowney and Mike Savage, and Tae Kwon Do and American-style karate under the teaching of Rick and Nikki Lee. In 2000, she won a national tournament during The Battle of Atlanta, qualifying for the World Martial Arts Events in Sydney, Australia where she won two gold medals. Wilkes’ two oldest sons — Sebastian, 7, and Greyson, 5 — are now students at UKC. Wilkes said she is excited about getting back in shape after having a baby — a third son, Quinton — only 10 weeks ago.
“There’s no better way for a new mom to get back in shape again than to have to be able to instruct a fitness program,” Wilkes said. “Fitness and martial arts have always been in my blood, and now those qualities have been passed along to my two boys, Sebastian and Greyson. They study Kenpo at the UKC under the teaching of Jamie Vaughn. With his amazing ability to relate to the kids at UKC, there’s no telling how far these kids will go.”
Wilkes has chosen to start a new exercise program at UKC that will teach students how to train like a mixed martial artist. Wilkes pointed out that mixed martial arts (MMA) — also known as cage fighting — is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
“Originally only the domain of men, women have recently been stepping into the ring for no-holds-barred matches,” Wilkes said. “Although I don’t have intentions of stepping into the ring, it’s like having a secret. I can put on my cute dress and go out for a night on the town and not have to worry. I always feel in control.”
Wilkes’ class will be called TapOut XT Extreme Training.
“Typical workouts just won’t give you the type of body that you see on the best UFC fighters,” Wilkes said. “If you want ripped muscles, a lean body and the perfect MMA look, you need to turn to the same workout principles that MMA athletes use to stay in peak physical condition.”
Registration for the TapOut XT Extreme Training class will also be available at the UKC Back to School Bash event.
For more information about the Union Karate Center, the Back to School Bash or upcoming classes, call (864) 251-1219 or (864) 251-4675.