By Veronica Sandate Craker
The owners of U.S. Combat Fitness and Choice Martial Arts hope a recent merger of the two companies will provide a place for both kids and adults to get fit and strong.
John Newton opened U.S. Combat Fitness off Gage Boulevard in Kennewick in the summer of 2010. At the same time his friend, Rick Weatherill, was running his business Choice Martial Arts at 5516 W. Clearwater Ave.
“We had two different businesses going on with very much the same things going on,” Weatherill said. “We were talking and we just decided to merge our gyms.”
Newton moved his business into the Choice Martial Arts location and now the joint companies offer both kids and adult courses in mixed martial arts.
“There’s not a lot of martial arts for adults,” Weatherill said. “There’s a lot of tae kwon do and karate places for kids, but adults are also interested in martial arts for different reasons — for fitness, practical self-defense and especially with the advent of UFS Fighting.”
For adults, the business offers Brazilian jujitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing, judo, kickboxing and self-defense.
“One of the big advantages of jujitsu or karate or tae kwon do is that it works very well with so many different body types, fitness levels, flexibility,” Weatherill said. “So you don’t need to be fit, you don’t need to be flexible a lot of it you don’t need years and years of experience, so it works different body types, different ages.”
And it’s not just for beginners.
Newton said they offer different levels for every type of athlete.
“Most people who come to us are combat athletes, wrestlers, jujitsu, judo practitioners, boxers, kick boxers,” he said. “(And) we cater to law enforcement and military personnel. They get a 25 percent discount.”
Parents looking for a place to keep their kids busy can enroll them in Brazilian jujitsu and judo. The companies also offer a bully prevention program based on the Gracie Bully System.
“The principal behind the bully proof program is the kids that are confident in their ability to handle the bully. First of all — don’t become bullies themselves and second, they don’t get bullied because they project confidence,” Newton said. “Bullies are looking for people that don’t have that confidence. The bully proof program is to avoid fights at all costs and it teaches you to take control of the situation and control the bully on the ground and negotiate and wait for an adult to arrive.”
In order to keep the facility competitive against similar martial arts businesses Weatherill said teachers often travel outside of the state in order to improve their craft.
A lot of us are traveling elsewhere to get that and bring that experience back to the Tri-Cities,” Weatherill said.
Weatherill recently traveled to Brazil to train with teachers in jujitsu.
“So we do what we can to bring jujitsu, that’s so popular, back to this area,” Weatherill said.
They also offer seminars by bringing in trained fighters to teach their students.
“We’re bringing in outside talent as much as we can,” Weatherill said.
Despite being in the business of fighting, both men said they want to make their business a place where everyone feels welcome.
“It’s kind of an oxymoron because we’re kind of a family-oriented fight gym,” Newton said.