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Martial Arts at Perry Hall Square Rapidly Expanding

Part of New Wave Martial Arts' program is tailored specifically toward helping children handle problems with bullies.

In a shopping center long characterized by , a martial arts instructor is finding a growing customer base.

New Wave Martial Arts opened at 4323 Ebenezer Rd. at in early April. Even before the wall-to-wall mat in the main instruction area had been installed, 15 students were signed up for classes, according to Master Rick Stephan.

The taekwondo master built up more than 17 years experience as an instructor before joining his son, owner Shawn Stephan, in making the $20,000 investment to start the school. At least two other martial arts schools already hold classes in the Perry Hall area.

Stephan told Patch he anticipates 90 students within the school's first 90 days.

"Our enrollments have been exceeding our expectations and we are already planning to open an additional location," he said.

Classes, averaging about $80 per course, include taekwondo, cardio kickboxing, advanced training and hand-to-hand self defense. Students currently range in age from 4 to 26.

Stephan said the course training is beyond basic.

"We're focusing on school bullying ... we show students how to defend themselves in the hallways," he said.

Stephan said he would never promote violence, but rather basic self defense to combat .

"A student says he gets bullied, and I show him how to turn it around. It's not about taking somebody's head off, it's about deflecting it," he said.

Harassment and intimidation in schools strikes a personal chord with Stephan.

"I've got five kids and I know from experience ... one of my daughter's friends committed suicide because of school bullying. It's a large problem," he said.

Would you recommend learning martial arts? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

Karen zimmerman May 11, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I have know the Stephan family for several years and they have a wonderful school. I drive from Bel Air several times a week to train under them. They give respect to students and offer discipline and fitness through martial arts. I appreciate that they take the time to work with students like myself who have learning disabilities and physical limitations. Every student is challanged within their ability and encouraged along the way. Karen Zimmerman
Kris May 11, 2012 at 12:05 PM
You got it!
RB May 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
STRIKE FIRST. STRIKE HARD. NO MERCY SIR.

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