When you hear the term “martial arts,” you probably envision young men breaking bricks, children kicking and punching, or a teenager washing a car at a fundraiser.
Chances are, you didn’t imagine a man born during World War II.
“I would never in my wildest dreams have believed I could have accomplished this, but here I am now earning my black belt,” says 67-year old karate student Dennis Patterson.
How is it that Paterson, who started karate 2 years ago at an age most look to retire, was able to make his black belt?
“Discipline and hard work,” says his karate instructor, Tim Wegert.
Sam Wegert is the owner of Super Kicks Karate, the Charlottesville, VA martial arts school where Patterson trains. Sam and Tim Wegert are two brothers who have worked side by side to help as many people as possible in martial arts for over 7 years.
“The main benefit of martial arts are the character lessons that the student gets,” says Sam. “Sometimes people focus on the training, and the kicking and the punching. And, that’s great, but the thing about the human body is that no matter what, it has physical limitations.
“When we realize that it’s not simply about the physical movements, but about the mind, character, and leadership, that opens up the possibility of martial arts training for almost anyone!”
Even when Patterson started, he was skeptical. “I thought ‘I don’t know if I can do this or not’—it was like a pipe dream.”
In American communities, many commercial martial arts schools teach styles that focus on athleticism, physical prowess and exacting techniques. Rank advancement towards earning the coveted “black belt” is done through demonstrations of martial arts techniques and combinations.
The physical benefits of martial arts are clear, including toning muscles, increasing cardiovascular strength, and flexibility. Many celebrities train in martial arts for various health reasons, including Jennifer Aniston, Kobe Bryant, and Criss Angel.
Patterson agrees. “I did it strictly for the exercise when I started, but it has turned out to be much more than that, and I wish I could have been even more active than I was. I wish I had started martial arts when I was younger.”
But the Wegert brothers see physical training as just one benefit of many in martial arts. “I’ve trained kids who are as young as four years old, and adults like Patterson. And I’ve seen them transform their bodies. But, what I also love is seeing them transform their minds and become more confident and disciplined with greater leadership potential,” says Tim.