Grant County Martial Arts celebrates 20 years

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By Paige Taylor

Grant County Martial Arts is kicking and punching in to its 20th  year of business. The martial arts school in Dry Ridge teaches Shaolin, Tai Chi and in the fall basic mixed martial arts will be offered.


Daniel Lester, the previous owner, passed Grant County Martial Arts to its second owner, Kevin Brandenburg in its 19th year of business.

Brandenburg has owned the martial arts school for a little over a year and is a Sifu, or teacher, at the martial arts school. He has been with the company for 13 years and is a second degree black belt.

“His (Lester) main concern was passing on the dojo to individuals who would carry on the legacy that he started, also to individuals that he knew would take the dojo to the next level,” Brandenburg said. “I came in as a partner to do that and we moved from our old location to our new location in the (Dry Ridge) outlet mall.”

Classes are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Beginner classes start at 5:30 p.m. and last one hour. Advanced classes are from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Open practices are available on Saturdays for all belt levels from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Grant County Martial Arts classes are for all ages.

“You start out as a white belt and we have what are called kata’s. There are different sparring techniques and after you learn all of the curriculum you can test and advance to the next belt,” Brandenburg said. “I’ve seen a lot of people here advance belts. We have several browns, greens, yellows and whites.”

Nick Brummer, a Sifu at Grant County Martial Arts, has been with the company for 16 years. He is a fourth degree black belt and says that martial arts is about more than fighting.

“It’s a great way to stay fit and we teach you a lot of self defense. We’re not here to train you how to fight. It’s more of a lifestyle of self defense, improving your fitness, strength, cardiovascular and self discipline,” Brummer said.

Grant County Martial Arts is a popular place for kids to exercise and learn fundamental values like respect.

“A lot of people will bring their children here to gain respect and self discipline, because we will teach them to have that during class and it helps them in their home life,” Brandenburg said. “As a young person there are situations where we all get teased and there’s peer pressure and there are situations where you won’t feel comfortable. This teaches you to not to be so aggressive but to have confidence as a young individual. It teaches you to handle certain situations better than you normally would.”

Although the classes can help children and young adults, it is also beneficial to an older audience as an alternative way to exercise.

“Tai Chi focuses more on a mental aspect than the physical aspect so you use the mental aspect to move your energy and you move your body along with it. This is a way to strengthen yourself from the inside out, whereas in a gym you are training from the outside, in. With Tai Chi you become mentally stronger first and through that you become physically stronger. You’ll use muscles you never knew you had,” Brummer said.

Their business secret of staying open for so long is attributed to their family-like atmosphere.

“There is a core group of us here that are very close, it’s mostly the upper belts because we were kids when we got started. You do things here and we push you, not to see you fail. You have to find the limitations of your body and mind to become better,” Brandenburg said. “We really pull that element together so that it’s more than people enjoy coming here and it’s something to do. Our longevity is tied to that sense of community within the dojo.”

Brummer says that Grant County Martial Arts has created a welcoming dojo.

“We treat people, not as customers as a part of a business, they are here to us as a family member. I think that making people feel like they are a part of a family or a group; it makes it a better atmosphere. We are not here as a business, we’re here as a friend and to help you improve your body and mind,” Brummer said.

Beginners are encouraged to visit Grant County Martial Arts and to try it out.

“You need to not have any expectation of failure, because no one fails. If you give us three months you’ll see an improvement. No matter what your age, you can always begin. It’s a great alternative to the gym, we work in a group and all you have to do is follow the counts. You are motivated not only by yourself but by the group,” Brandenburg said. “We want to offer new opportunities for folks.”

For more information call Grant County Martial Arts at (859) 823-4262.