Baldwin Martial Arts focuses on family participation


Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

The Baldwin Martial Arts program is a family affair that starts with the instructors. Tom Christian and his wife Cheryl both teach Youn Wha Ryu part time in the community, and they encourage families to join together.

“If you’ve got a family member training with you, you’ve got somebody to kind of get you in gear when you don’t feel like doing it,” Tom Christian said.

Christian has done Youn Wha Ryu for more than seven years. Youn Wha Ryu is based on Tae Kwon Do with influences from other martial arts.

“It’s a very well-rounded system,” Christian said. “This system took a lot of the good pieces from several different arts and worked it in together.”

The classes are held at the Baldwin Intermediate Center on Monday and Wednesday nights, and are offered at discounted rates for families.

Fourth grader Jillian McLaren has taken the class for almost two years after she fell in love with it at her first class. After practicing at home with her father, he decided to join as well. Jillian’s father would help her at home to reach the 300 Club. Students pick three forms or kicks and do them each 300 times to gain the muscle memory and practice before the next testing session. Jillian and her father are both first-degree blue belts.

“I think it gives her self-confidence, and there’s a bit of discipline to that,” Jillian’s mother, Arlena McLaren, said.

Arlena describes the class itself as a family.

“Tom and Cheryl are very supportive and they want them to learn the proper ways,” Arlena said. “They’re just very encouraging, and somebody Jillian’s age really needs that, so it’s been very positive for her.”

Baldwin Martial Arts student Floyd Rolland has a similar story. His daughters have been in the class for two years, and they begged him to join. He has been in the class now for three months, and his favorite part is just that it’s something to do with his family.

“The instructors here are also my neighbors, so they’re almost like family,” Rolland said. “We spend a lot of time together.”

Rolland played football and basketball in high school, but he never even thought about doing martial arts until his daughters got into it. Christian says that the classes are for anyone.

“With this system, we have what we teach, but if your physical ability, let’s say, won’t allow you to kick high, then we’re going to work things out so that you’ve got another way of doing it,” Christian said. “There’s always another way to do it, and there’s a way to modify things so everybody can do them.”

While this is currently just a part-time job for Christian and his wife, he hopes the classes grow. Christian invites those who are interested to attend a class to see if they enjoy it before signing up through the Baldwin City Recreation Commission or visiting the Baldwin Martial Arts Facebook page.