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The Business of Self-Preservation
by Cortney Maddock
Sep 24, 2009 | 803 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Cortney Maddock - Kelly Freeman demonstrates how to break someone's hold as part of self-defense with the help of his student Pablo Canseco.
Tribune/Cortney Maddock - Kelly Freeman demonstrates how to break someone's hold as part of self-defense with the help of his student Pablo Canseco.
At Tuesday night’s adult kobudo class at Shorin-Ryu Karate, owner Kelly Freeman precisely monitored each step his students performed on the blue mat that stretches across the dojo.

Freeman’s soft-spoken instructions bring on the next set of movements in the special weapons class: Punch, punch. Step. Palms open. Punch, punch.

Freeman celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Sparks studio’s opening on Sept. 15 and said he couldn’t be happier with the way business is going.

“We are very excited about that,” Freeman said of the anniversary. “With the economy, and the way it is, we are happy to be in business.”

Freeman, his wife Debbie and their children moved to Sparks about seven years ago from Chico, Calif. where Freeman said he still goes once a month to teach with his teacher, eighth-degree black belt Pat Haley.

“We wanted to do something close to home,” Debbie said of the Sparks studio.

Freeman added that the studio’s location, on the corner of Baring and Vista boulevards in the same shopping center as Mr. Pickle and Sparks Music, is a great spot for business and they received an amazing deal on the lease.

“If there is a spot open here, it’s a great deal,” Freeman said. “There is a lot of traffic and foot traffic. This is the best spot and the best price. Not too big, but perfect.”

The perfect karate studio has added perks to doing business, besides its location. Freeman said that by being in a Sparks neighborhood they have had great clients and a great experience owning their own karate studio.

“I’ve been doing martial arts for about 28 or 29 years,” Freeman said. “I used to be an amature kick boxer in the Mid-West.”

Freeman said he is a first-degree black belt and has studied with some of the best. He added that he opened the karate studio because there are no other Shorin-Ryu style karate studios in Reno or Sparks.

“You’ll see a lot of mixed martial arts here,” Freeman said. “This is the only Shorin-Ryun karate in Nevada entirely.”

Freeman said he enjoys Shorin-Ryu because of its Japanese peasant history and because of the way it works well with a combination of the body’s joints and muscles.

“One of the things I looked for when I was looking for a martial arts style is one that used the body in a proper way,” Freeman said. “A lot of stances we do are hard but good for the joints and the body entirely.”

After moving to Sparks, Freeman took a break from Shorin-Ryu karate and worked in the heath care field. He said that after awhile he felt the urge to return to the sport and it resulted in the Freemans opening their own karate studio.

“I felt a longing to get back into it,” Freeman said. “I’m a diabetic, I’ve been since I was 8 years old and I need something to keep me in shape.”

Freeman said in addition to teaching standard karate for children and adults, they have added a self-defense class. The free class will be held tonight from 7-8:30 p.m.

“The self-defense class that we teach is not like the regular karate classes,” Freeman said. “These are very specific moves to get you out of any situation very quickly. Some of the moves are very devastating.”

Freeman said that while working in an emergency room, he saw people with injuries from being attacked that could have been prevented with proper awareness and self-defense training.

“We do a kids defense class before Halloween called Stranger Danger,” Freeman said.

Freeman said that by looking at police statistics and crime rates there is a steady progression of crime in any growing community, such as Sparks.

“It’s one thing to be paranoid,” Freeman said. “It’s another to be prepared.”

Telling stories about successful classes and amazingly talented students, Freeman and his wife smile about their experience as business owners.

“Anyone who gets into the martial arts business to make money is missing the mark,” Freeman said, adding that as long as he can pay the lease he is happy.

“Our goal is to help as many people as we can,” Debbie said.

“I’ve got some great classes with some great kids in it,” Freeman said with a smile. “We have had some very good experiences.”

Classes at Kelly Freeman’s Shorin-Ryu Karate, location at 2965 Vista Blvd., #103 in Sparks, includes a range of classes from peewee classes for 3-5 year olds to advanced kids classes and adult classes. Freeman also teaches special weapons training and holds adult sparring nights.

For more information on classes, prices and schedules, visit or call 626-8687.
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