• If you don't know me, or you do but we haven't talked in awhile, you may be wondering why. Why did I do this? Why did I open up my own club?

    There are a hundred reasons, some big, some small, really though it all boils down to one day in 2013. During a belt test, one of the questions that we used to ask the students was “What are your long-term goals in Taekwondo?” On this day, the student that I was grading gave an answer that completely changed how I viewed martial arts.

    “To be able to protect both myself and my family.”

    Those words were written by an 11 year old whose thought process should have been 10,000 miles away from such a concept. And yet, there it was. Wow. On that day, I told the student how impressed I was with their answer; beyond that those words sent me on a journey.

    Taekwondo is many things. It's flashy, it's outwardly athletic (as opposed to the somewhat subtly hidden athleticism of say, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), but it is not at all known for its' self-defense principles. This may well be why the Korean people used Hapkido, or why Kung Fu was so commonly found in the Kwans open in 1945-46.

    Reading those words made me question a lot of things. Among them, was I a fraud for teaching a self-defense system that I was well-aware would never work in real life? This student was outwardly relying on me to teach them how to keep their family safe, as were many other students, and the system that I was teaching – somebody else's system – would never do that. It was a heavy, heady revelation.

    Already studying Kung Fu and having studied BJJ on and off for years, I started to try and figure out ways to use the principles of the purer self-defense arts in my classes. However, the system at the club where I taught was already in place, and I was in no position to change it.

    Fast forward two years, my goal with Phoenix Martial Arts is to create an atmosphere that has the best of both worlds: the athleticism of Taekwondo, which I love, combined with realistic self-defense techniques that my Sifu (Kung Fu teacher) taught me specifically for this program. No striking, no hurting someone, only how to stay safe in the moment and remove yourself from the situation.

    It's funny where inspiration will come from. Those words, they stay with me, and if I can help even one person stay safe, or keep someone they love safe, then all of this will have been worth it.

    Mike Cranwell,

    Phoenix Martial Arts