TROY — A new martial arts studio recently opened in downtown Troy with a focus on teaching practical self defense for students of all ages.
Chris and Candace Journell, husband and wife taekwondo instructors with a combined 40 years of experience between them, recently opened their new school in downtown Troy.
The Journells teach traditional taekwondo techniques, while offering students the skills they need to defend themselves in real-life situations. Taekwondo is a form of Korean martial arts.
“I could care less about giving someone a black belt. I could care less about any of those belts. They’re a good gauge for progression and skills. But if someone picks up a handful of techniques in here that they’re able to apply when needed, that’s what I care about as an instructor,” Chris said.
Chris, Troy Martial Arts’ head instructor, grew up in Winchester, Ind., and got started taking taekwondo classes as a teenager at the local YMCA.
“You could count on one finger the martial arts there were in Winchester, Ind.,” Chris said. He volunteered at the local Y and mowed lawns to pay for classes. “I fell in love with it. It was the right thing at the right time for a kid that needed it.”
Chris has been teaching taekwondo for more than 20 years. He started a program at the Darke County YMCA in 1996 and started teaching at the Sidney YMCA a few years ago.
Chris also served in the Army National Guard infantry, which taught him the principals of effective self defense — “If it doesn’t work, you don’t need it,” he said. He developed self defense and taekwondo programs for the Army.
Candace, a Piqua native, started studying taekwondo in the late ’80s and competed in many tournaments. In 1999, she started training at the Darke County YMCA and in 2014, started assisting in instruction at the Sidney YMCA. She specializes in beginners’ and children’s classes.
Candace and Chris still offer classes at the Sidney YMCA, but opened a Troy location because space in Sidney is limited.
The benefits to opening their own school include not only space, but being able to offer students top-of-the-line training equipment that’s “hard to get at YMCAs,” Chris said.
“One thing we’re doing that almost any other school within about 200 miles isn’t — we have a predator suit,” he said.
The self defense suit — nicknamed Lord Dark Helmet — offers neck, face and groin protection for the wearer. Its bulky foam and mesh helmet allows students to actually practice defensive moves that target an attacker’s face.
“I’ve literally had people just hit me as hard as they can in the head. I don’t feel a thing,” Chris added.
The Journells said that other martial arts schools and local police departments offer some form of self defense training, but the custom-made predator suit sets their training apart.
“The big difference between our suit and their suit: their suit you can’t hit the face because it’s metal. Our suit is a mesh. You can actually hit that without hurting yourself or the guy in the suit,” Candace said.
One of the most important things training can offer a person is how to identify and respond to dangerous situations, Chris said.
“Most people haven’t been in danger in their lives. What we try to do, both with the suit and with the class in general, is we try to train them to identify that and react without freaking out,” he said.
Classes for students of all ages are offered Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as Saturday mornings.
“From 3 to 103 — we draw the line at 104,” Chris said. New students can try the first month of classes for $15, no uniforms or contract required.
For more information, call (937) 980-9325, visit www.troyma.com or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/troymartialarts. Troy Martial Arts is located at 1 E. Main St., Troy.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.