Lenapehauken Education Research Center
Panther opens Martial Arts School
LENAPEHAUKEN
Panther opens Martial Arts School

Spirit of the Panther demonstrating a Tae Kwan Do
pama2.jpg
move at his Martial Arts School in Ocean Pines, Md

New school kicks it up
Panther Academy focuses on tae kwon do, balanced learning

OCEAN PINES -- After working with Powerkicks as a tae kwon do instructor for about four years, it only seemed logical for Sean Saunders to take over when the owner wanted to sell.

"I feel like I can work off my own merits," Saunders said. After taking over in August, he renamed the business the Panther Academy and gave it a new look and some new features.

 

"I didn't want to piggyback someone else's business or work off their reputation," he said. "It's an academy of learning now, not just martial arts."

But using his own reputation to gain students wasn't a problem, Saunders already had made relationships with the students with which he worked.

"I'm not the yelling kind of instructor," he said. "I feel like, yes this is an academy but it is also a place I want people to feel they belong. Take my master quest students for example, we go out to dinner once a month. Instead of just looking at it as a job, I try to create relationships with my students."

The most obvious change since his takeover is the name, which Saunders said sounded cooler but also had meaning to him.

"I'm Native American and my name is Spirit of the Panther so it made for a good name," he said. "It's a new entity here and I wanted to personalize it."

Saunders said he's added features like demonstrations on nutrition and further developed the tae kwon do curriculum.

"My curriculum is different than other schools, we do different parts of the curriculum on each night," he said. "Tae kwon do is mainly about kicking so I added in some philosophy, hand motion and self defense."

Now students can schedule around their classes and know what they're going to work on before they go in for a class.

"Usually the instructor knows what is going to be taught but the students don't," he said. "This way is really more academy style."

The students also get progress reports, which helps them to keep up on their skills.

"The progress reports say what they need more work on," Saunders said. "It can take a lot of guess work on the part of the student, this helps their confidence and studying martial arts instills confidence so they go hand in hand."

Students are tested after completing the required number of classes to receive another belt.

"They do the skills they've learned and if they pass, they gain a belt and move up," he said. "They are rated in each area by points on different techniques. This allows the student to know where they stand more efficiently."

But it's not all action.

Saunders said, there is now some philosophy taught to the students.

"For children, I will talk about life and safety skills, for example, if it's Halloween time I will talk to them about being safe when trick or treating," he said. "For adults, I may read them a passage of philosophy out of a Zen philosophy book or Bruce Lee's philosophy. It gives them a perspective on how to look at themselves as martial artists."

Saunders said martial arts is a mental activity just as much as it is physical, but he's not preaching a mandated lifestyle, he just wants to share the information. He and girlfriend Kristen Zoon run the business together and hope to add more classes and facets to their academy, including tai chi. They are currently offering after-school programs for children to come do their homework and then have tae kwon do classes.

"It's really an all-ages place, it's not just for kids," Saunders said. "It's also geared toward adults; it's a universal school of learning."

ldalessand@dmg.gannett.com

410-213-9442

Post a Comment


This article does not have any comments associated with it

Originally published September 20, 2006

This is a printer friendly version of an article from delmarvanow.com

Anne Litz photo
kns.jpg
Kristen Zoon and Sean Saunders in Panther Academy a new martial arts schoolin Ocean Pines.

Panther unleashed in Pines

By Laura D'Alessandro Staff Writer

OCEAN PINES -- After working with Powerkicks as a tae kwon do instructor for about four years, it only seemed logical for Sean Saunders to take over the business when the owner wanted to sell.

"I feel like I can work off my own merits," Saunders said.

After taking over in August, he renamed the business the Panther Academy and gave it a new look and some new features.

"I didn't want to piggyback someone else's business or work off their reputation," he said. "It's an academy of learning now, not just martial arts."

But using his own reputation to gain students wasn't a problem, Saunders already had made relationships with the students he worked with.

"I'm not the yelling kind of instructor," he said. "I feel like, yes this is an academy but it is also a place I want people to feel they belong. Take my master quest students for example, we go out to dinner once a month. Instead of just looking at it as a job I try to create relationships with my students."

The most obvious change since his takeover is the name, which Saunders said sounded cooler but also had meaning to him.

"I'm Native American and my name is Spirit of the Panther so it made for a good name," he said. "It's a new entity here and I wanted to personalize it."

Saunders said he's added features like demonstrations on nutrition and further developed the tae kwon do curriculum.

"My curriculum is different than other schools, we do different parts of the curriculum on each night," he said. "Tae kwon do is mainly about kicking so I added in some philosophy, hand motion and self defense."

Now students can schedule around their classes and know what they're going to work on before they go in for a class.

"Usually the instructor knows what is going to be taught but the students don't," he said. "This way is really more academy style."

The students also get progress reports, which helps them to keep up on their skills.

"The progress reports say what they need more work on," Saunders said. "It can take a lot guess work on the part of the student, this helps their confidence and studying martial arts instills confidence so they go hand in hand."

Students are tested after completing the required number of classes to receive another belt.

"They do the skills they've learned and if they pass the gain a belt and move up," he said. "They are rated in each area by points on different techniques. This allows the student to know where they stand more efficiently."

But it's not all action. Like Saunders said, there is now some philosophy taught to the students.

"For children I will talk about life and safety skills, for example, if it's Halloween time I will talk to them about being safe when trick or treating," he said. "For adults I may read them a passage of philosophy out of a Zen philosophy book or Bruce Lee's philosophy. It gives them a perspective on how to look at themselves as martial artists."

Saunders said martial arts is a mental activity just as much as it is physical but he's not preaching a mandated lifestyle, he just wants to share the information.

He and girlfriend Kristen Zoon run the business together and hope to add more classes and facets to their academy, including tai chi.

They are currently offering after school programs for children to come do their homework and then have tae kwon do classes.

"It's really an all ages place, it's not just for kids," Saunders said. "It's also geared toward adults, it's a universal school of learning."

Zoon and Saunders will host their grand opening on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. The festivities will include a free tae kwon do class, live sword demonstration and Chinese auction. For more information on classes, call 443-373-7172.

Originally published Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Panther Academy sticks to tradition

LISA CAPITELLI
Staff Writer

(Sept. 15, 2006) As a child, Master Shawn Saunders always dreamt about becoming a martial arts instructor. Now, after purchasing the 3,000-square-foot studio that had been used by PowerKicks, located in the South Gate Shopping Center in Ocean Pines, Saunders’ dream is becoming a reality.

On Aug. 18, the 26-year-old instructor opened Panther Academy of Martial Arts, complete with redesigned programs and a class structure that will help the efficiency of the school.

“I’m looking to add a little more tradition to the commercialized martial arts market because that’s what it has become,” Saunders said. “They don’t do meditation anymore. They talk about life skills, but it’s more like just the basic things you hear in school. I want to be different. I don’t want to be the carbon copy of the other large martial arts schools around here.”

Saunders taught classes at PowerKicks since it opened in Ocean Pines in January. He was also an instructor at the Fruitland PowerKicks for four years. He has trained in a variety of martial arts styles since he was a child and has been guiding students for the last 14 years.

During much of that time, Saunders said, he was interested in opening his own school. So when the opportunity came around to finally do this, Saunders jumped at the chance.

“I’ve been wanting to own my own school for a while now,” Saunders said. “When you are a martial arts instructor and you’re working for someone else, you have to teach the classes the way they feel is proper. I felt as though I had differing ideas on how I wanted to approach teaching. The best way for me to do that was to open my own school.”

Saunders will host a grand opening at the studio on Saturday, Sept. 23, from noon to 3 p.m., during which there will be martial arts demonstrations, Katana sword fighting and other methods students will have the opportunity to learn at Panther Academy. Saunders’ mother will also talk about an herbalism course she will teach.

Saunders currently runs an after school program for children in the area at the studio. He also opens on days when schools are closed. During the week, Saunders picks up children from school and brings them to the academy, where they have time designated to homework and time for participating in martial arts classes.

Saunders also offers classes at night and on Saturdays for students of all ages.
For more information about the grand opening or any of the classes, call 410-208-3385.

 

Lenapehauken Education and Research Center, Nonprofit Agency

Status Bar Flasher