By Rachel Ann Johnson
PRO Martial Arts, a North American franchise, boasts its third karate studio in Hillsborough County with the newest location at 119 W. Bloomingdale Ave. The Brandon facility, which opened its doors six months ago, provides martial arts instruction to more than 40 students. Brandon resident, Josh Leduc, is the studio’s program director who hopes to see the program grow to at least 80 students by the end of the first year.
He explains that students, ranging in age from three to adult, are taught more than martial arts. In addition to self-defense seminars, the studio offers a 24-week program where participants learn bullying prevention and predator prevention. “We equip kids with the skills they need to understand the difference between a stranger and strange behavior,” said Leduc.
The walls of the studio promote good moral character by reminding students of the importance of values like discipline, knowledge, courage, character, honor and respect. While students develop physical strength, they gain strength of character as well as the confidence that accompanies both of those. Confidence is a trait that Sreelakshmi Chaupalli of Brandon noticed in her two children after four months of training, particularly her daughter. As a seventh grade student, Anagha Hesaraghatta, experienced bullying at school and used to have difficulty dealing with it. “She has a lot of confidence and feels she can handle anybody now,” Chaupalli said.
Student accomplishments are recognized with the standard belt system and students may attend in-house competitions. Leduc’s goal is less fleeting than tangible awards, though. “We hope the kids build good habits and traits that will last a lifetime,” he said.
Classes are offered Monday-Thursday and Saturday with rates starting at $80 per month. New students can join two classes at no cost to try the program. Call the studio at 685-4325 for more information.