By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
Taekwondo, which is the art of self-defense, is recognized as one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world. Davis has been practicing martial arts for 36 years.
Herald-Palladium staff writer Tony Wittkowski sat down with Davis to discuss how he went about starting his business.
When did you first get involved with taekwondo?
I started when I was 12 years old in Berrien Springs. They had a taekwondo academy on the main strip there as you come in from Eau Claire. It was just 15 minutes away.
Have you been doing this your whole life?
It’s been off and on my whole life. I’ve studied other forms of martial arts and self-defense through the military and law enforcement. Now that I’m retired, I want to come back to my roots.
What did you retire from?
From the police in Muskegon Heights. I was there for eight years and I was at Benton Harbor for 10 years before that.
What was it about taekwondo that made you gravitate toward it?
The focus that it taught me. I started when I was 12, so by the time I was 13 I already had it set in my mind on what I wanted to do in my life. It taught me that you have to set goals for yourself. My goal was to become a police officer.
After you retired as a police officer, what made you want to open up your own taekwondo academy?
I managed another school for the past eight years. I won’t say their name, but most people who know me know what school it is. I’ve always wanted to do this, and when things didn’t work out with me taking over at that school, I decided to open my own. I took all my savings and here I am.
What was the process like getting this started?
I have a business degree, so I had a pretty good start already on how to do it. When we were opening, Cornerstone (Alliance) looked over all my paperwork and saw everything was in check. I drew up the legal contracts and had my brother-in-law, who’s a lawyer, review those. Then I got my insurance, and since I drive by here everyday, I stopped to take a look at the place.
What are some of the main teachings you try to project to your students?
My goal when I opened this school was to make taekwondo traditional again. To preach discipline, respect and courtesy. Focus is a big one, especially with these younger kids. In my youngest class, I have a student that just turned 4. She’s below the other students, but her parents and relatives have all commented on how much better she’s doing now.
I do meditation with the kids. It’s not so they just meditate, it’s more of a way to get them to be able to sit still and settle down. They can’t make faces. They sit perfectly still. They don’t know how long it will be, but I keep adding on each time. It’s a way to refocus and gain some perspective.