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New ninjutsu academy aims to better people

Born and raised on a military base in Japan, Tommy Lee has been fascinated by the Japanese art of ninjutsu since he was 3.

Now Lee, along with his wife Kelly Hatfield, owns the recently opened Ninja Academy and Supplies located at 206 S. Third St. in downtown Ironton, something he hopes will change people for the better.

“I wanted to help kids, or anyone, get off drugs or stay out of trouble and just try something different. A lot of times you see teens out at 3 a.m. What are they doing out at 3 a.m.? Most likely getting into mischief,” Lee said. “I’m going to try to stop all that.”

Lee added that ninjutsu is also a way of self-defense, but stressed it’s about using the mind more than being physical.

“There’s a lot of bullies out there and cyber bullies,” Lee said. “But I’m going to teach kids how to use their mind to get out of it instead of their fists.”

Prior to moving to the Tri-State, Lee traveled all over the world working as private security when he nearly lost his life.

“After Hurricane Katrina, I was shot and the bullet was three inches away from my heart,” Lee said. “If it wasn’t for my Kevlar vest, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. That’s when Kelly told me I should get out of that and open up my dream of teaching ninjutsu.”

One side of the academy is a store where various ninjutsu supplies are sold, while the other side is the studio where lessons take place, although the studio is not quite completed.

“Everything here is out of my own money,” Lee said. “And all of the proceeds will go back into the academy.”

Lessons at Ninja Academy and Supplies are $55 a month plus the cost of the uniform, which depends on the person’s size. The academy is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and the $55 covers the whole month, no matter how many times someone attends. Private lessons are also available on Sundays for $150 and donations to the academy are welcome. To sign up, contact Ninja Academy and Supplies at 740-442-3923.