Thirty-three years and still kickin’Published 11:00pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Making a living teaching martial arts was not a goal for Larry Meeks then, neither is it a possibility now.
What began as a hobby for Meeks gradually grew into a small business that is celebrating its 33rd year this month.
“I can’t make a living teaching martial arts but it’s certainly an enjoyable small business,” Meeks said. “The real rewards are not monetary. They are in seeing people of all ages benefit from a well-rounded exercise program and one that enables young people to be better athletes.”
Meeks teaches Hap Ki Do, a Korean form of martial arts, and grappling at his studio in downtown Troy.
“Hap Ki Do is standing defense and grappling, which is like wrestling, is ground defense,” he said. “They both train the mind as well as the body. The martial arts help you to be an all-around healthier person.”
Meeks said his interest in martial arts grew out of his desire to excel in a sport.
“When I was young, I played all sports but I was just mediocre,” he said. “I wanted to participate in a sport that I could excel in. I wanted to participate in a sport where I could make my own mistakes and then correct them. The martial arts was that sport.”
Meeks trained with Chris Dickinson and with Rick Hayes. The more he trained, the more dedicated and committed to the martial arts he became.
He realized the value of the training for men, women and children and opened his own martial arts training facility in Troy.
“We started meeting in different places, in barns and sheds, before we got a permanent place on South Three Notch Street,” Meeks said. “The interest in the martial arts increased as people began to know more about the art through television and the movies and, too, as people became more aware of the importance and need to be able to protect themselves.”
Meeks has trained people from all walks of life – including those in the military and in law enforcement.
“Right now, we have about 35 students of all ages,” he said. “We have young girls and a lady who is 59 that we call ‘Granny.’ She will soon be a black belt.”
Meeks said that, in today’s world, people of all ages and from all walks of life need to know how to protect themselves.
“With all of the bullying that is going on, it’s important for young people to know how to handle themselves in confrontational situations,” he said. “They need to be able to respond with ‘the bullying stops here.’ It’s just as important for women – and men — to know what to do if they are in a threatening situation. Knowing how to defend yourself if physically attacked could save your life.”
Meeks said that, most importantly, the martial arts teach day-to-day values that form a foundation on which character is built.
“The martial arts teach the traditional values of respect, honor, integrity and loyalty,” he said. “Students of the martial arts develop characteristics of good citizenship as well as appropriate judgment in confrontational situations.”