"I have taught martial arts in Cassville since 2001," said Ernest Freeman, RWTB instructor. "This started as a city park and recreational program, and when it outgrew that we opened our own center at the corner of Seventh and East streets."
The center later relocated to 78 Main St. in Cassville next to Taco Bell. The program operated out of that location for five years.
"The old location was a great building," said Freeman. "It served our needs very, very well, but my wife and I decided that if we were going to continue to do this, we needed to purchase our own building."
Freeman began searching for a building that could be renovated to fit the program's needs.
"We were looking for a building with wide open space that was located closer to the school," said Freeman. "This building does offer some things that the old place doesn't have.
"This wasn't a situation where we wanted to leave our old building or where the old space was bad though," said Freeman. "We just wanted to make a commitment to the community by purchasing a building."
After purchasing the building, Freeman replaced the flooring and painted the new facility.
"There wasn't a lot we had to do," said Freeman. "We do still need to do something different with the awning at some point."
Walking into the program's new building, visitors are greeted by students and parents who are excited about the new facility, which offers a check-in area, a seating area for parents and a large open practice area with mirrors, lockers and martial arts equipment.
The family martial arts center offers kick boxing and jiujitsu classes for all ages. A Little Dragons class is offered for 4- to 7-year-old children, and a youth martial arts class is available for 8 to 13 year olds. The center also offers an adult martial arts program for students who are 14 or older.
The program offers a free trial lesson for each member of the family and family discounts. Contracts are not required.
"It is important to understand that we don't do this as our primary job so we are able to keep the costs low enough that the entire family can train together," said Freeman. "Today, parents work outside the home and children have many extracurricular activities, and it is easy for families to grow apart.
"We offer a really unique thing," said Freeman. "Families can come here two or three times a week together. This is something they can share and have in common. It's a way for them to relate to each other and bond with each other."
In addition to the classes offered at the family martial arts center, Freeman offers some instructional services through the Cassville YMCA and schedules women's defense classes at the request of groups and organizations.
"The new building ensures that we always have a place for our martial arts program to call home in Cassville," said Freeman. "This will be our home for the next 20 to 30 years. I have a lot more martial arts years left in me."
For more information, call the RWTB Family Martial Arts Center at 847-1415.