By Jeremy W. Bernstein

Located on Fishhawk Boulevard, right between the entrance to Fishhawk Ranch and the Preserves, is a dojo that takes the traditions of Eastern martial arts very seriously. My two youngest sons have been training there for the last year and a half and the impact that training has had on their lives is immeasurable.

Fishhawk Martial Arts Academy (FHMAA) was founded over six years ago by Fishhawk resident, Lt Colonel James R. Jones (Ret) USSF. Jones, otherwise known as Shihan (Master Instructor), is not only a decorated retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer with multiple combat tours, a former deputy of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department and a 42+ year martial arts practitioner; he is also is a Doctoral Candidate in Psychology and a Nationally Certified Mental Health Counselor specializing in ADHD / ASD in children and adolescents.

Shihan Jones, along with Sensei Jason Rock, a retired U.S. Army Special Operations Officer, and the rest of the yudansha (black belts), have built a successful and continuously growing traditional dojo in very untraditional times. All practitioners are expected to follow the Bushido Code or “Virtues of the Samurai” which include honor, integrity, and respect – values I hold in very high regard.

I really appreciate that at FHMAA students learn how to be a martial artist and not just how to kick, punch or throw. The system they are taught is Mushin No Shin Aikijujutsu Do, a system of unarmed fighting to defeat both armed and unarmed opponents. This style was created by Shihan Jones and enables a student to: 1- learn to defend themselves from physical attack and probable injury, 2- increase their level of self-esteem, and 3- explore their own spirituality.

More than a dojo – Fishhawk Martial Arts Academy is a family. Some of my sons’ best friends are fellow practitioners. I also participate in weekly meditation and sword classes and am proud to refer to some members as brother.

Fishhawk Martial Arts Academy can be found at 15272 Fishhawk Blvd. For more information, visit www.fhmaa.com or call 315-9894.