Marcus Godfrey signed up for Morro Bay’s American Karate School at age 11 because he was getting bullied in middle school. Now a student at Coast Union High School in Cambria, he can take care of himself.
“Once I started, I couldn’t stop,” Marcus said.
Since 2004, instructor Bryan Way has taught martial arts to hundreds of students on the Central Coast.
“We teach noncompetitive bukarado, karate, aikido, jujitsu, kung fu, taekwondo, judo, aam ka jutsu,” Way said. “Our demonstration team performs at events and schools like Project Surf Camp, the Morro Bay Harbor Festival and Atascadero’s Kids Day. Karate is self-defense, physical fitness and the joy of learning. It is one sport you can really apply to life, teaching discipline, respect, confidence and leadership.
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“For me, it is a lifestyle. I wouldn’t have had the confidence and discipline to start American Karate School or at the same time become a student myself at the University of LaVerne to get my teaching credential. At 12, we moved to the Central Coast. I’d done gymnastics and was into ‘Ninja Turtles’ so tried karate. I took every class anywhere.”
By the age of 15, Way had his black belt. Today, he is a fifth-degree black belt, studying for master rank.
Way started American Karate School while working for FitnessWorks of Morro Bay. He rented a room for his six students, and within two years he had 80 students. He needed his own space. His career in teaching public school has complemented his lessons in karate — an after-school sport for many and year-round opportunity to develop life skills and keep busy.
Students learn to achieve belts from white to black and every color in between. There are skill levels for youths, teens and adults. Male and female students range from age 4 to adult. His newest black belt is Melia De Amas.
Eric Hendrickson started at 11. At 19, he’s at Cuesta College, is a first-degree black belt and has participated in everything from annual karate summer camp to teaching at the school.
“I started after seeing a demonstration, found it fun,” Hendrickson said. “It’s still fun, and I challenge myself to learn new things and use the weapons.”
Way credits Hendrickson’s family for many school improvements.
Tyson Offill began at age 5. Now a student at Cayucos Middle School, he’s a third-degree black belt.
Way said, “This kid does everything. He started out totally shy. He’s now more outgoing and has done everything faster than any one of my students. His brother, Ryland, at 8, is close on his heels. I can’t say enough about their family.”
For more, visit the American Karate School at 400 Quintana Road in Morro Bay, call 771-0233 or look it up online on www.facebook.com/aksmorrobay.
Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at email@example.com or 801-1422.