Martial arts instructor enjoys seclusion of dojo

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 5, 2004

PERRY TOWNSHIP - If you drive by too quickly on State Route 243,

you could miss the dojo.

Dojo is the Japanese word for a self-defense training school.

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Marshall Damron teaches a select few about the ancient arts of self-defense at his in-home studio, the United Martial Arts Center, also known as Damron's Karate Studio.

Currently, Damron has five students and he is not looking for more because he's presently involved in running his other business.

"The reason I like it here is because people say it's too far out," Damron said, "I'm not seeking more clients because I like to teach people who are serious about taking karate and not just wanting to learn on a whim."

Damron was born and bred in Lincoln County W.Va. He has always been interested in the martial arts, but his interest became more disciplined and directed after a traumatic occurrence he experienced in his 20s.

"I had pulled into a Dairy Queen in Nitro, W.Va., and about 20 guys started beating the tar out of me and tore my car up," he said. "I don't take stuff like that lightly."

Damron vowed something like that would never happen to him again. Today, he possesses two black belts and is skilled at numerous levels in the martial arts.

One of his black belts is for the Japanese fighting style of Shotokan, which means, "place of the waving pines" and was named after the person who developed the style.

Kyle Tomlin, 20, of Catlettsburg, Ky., said Damron is very good and diligent with students.

"He'll work with you longer than the time scheduled, if you need it," Tomlin said. "He'll push you to do more than what you think you can do. He's very good."

Tomlin, a red-belt student, has been studying karate for seven years. His focus is the Shotokan style and he will be going for his brown belt in about a month.

Karate means "empty hand." Damron has the codes and creeds about the arts adorning his dojo walls. One of them he requires students to memorize is the Code of Ethics for Karate.

Another creed was written by Jhoon Rhee - a famous karate master of the Korean style. A quotation from the creed says, "Never fight to achieve selfish ends. But, to develop might for right."

Although Damron says karate is not for everyone, it changes people in a good way.

"It disciplines people because you have to get the mind to work with the body," he said. "There is nobody out there who cannot achieve if they set their mind to do so in the martial arts."

The 55-year-old karate master has trained three American Athletics Union champions and two full-contact champions. He has taught students throughout the Tri-State. Damron himself has studied the martial arts for 39 years and has incorporated his studies into his own teachings.

The Dart is a weekly feature in The Ironton Tribune in which a reporter throws a dart at a map of Lawrence County and finds a story where it hits.