I took up martial arts at the age of 14 after dealing with years of bullying. Because of that I also struggled with low self-esteem and depression. Initially, I just wanted to learn how to fight, but what happened was so much more. I got in better shape, found a positive group of people, and found an outlet for all my stress. I found an activity at which I excelled at and instructors and students who believed in and supported me. It was extremely transformative and it helped improve nearly every other area of my life.
After a few years I was given the opportunity to assist in teaching classes by my current instructor. It was then that I fell in love with teaching and, after amazing encouragement from some parents at the school, decided that I wanted to commit my life to helping others through the martial arts.
In 2005, at 23 years old, I opened my school with the goal of teaching high quality martial arts while helping my students become more mentally and physically fit to take on life's challenges. I believe that proper martial arts training can be extremely empowering. With the right combination of challenges and support, students can realize that they are stronger and more capable than they ever imagined.
Since I opened my school, my mission has evolved to affect positive change in the community through martial arts instruction. While at first glance my school might look like a place where people only learn hand-to-hand combat, that is only a small part of what I cultivate, encourage, and impart as a teacher. Compassion and respect for others; non-violent conflict resolution; personal responsibility; health; a deep appreciation for friendship, community, education, family and more is as important to the idea of self defense as the physical study and practice of the martial arts.
I hope you will come in and check us out. I am confident that we can provide you what you seek, while being more than you ever imagined.
See you on the mats,
-Sensei Paul Castagno