Detroit Martial Arts Institute teaches young people life skills

Detroit Martial Arts Institute teaches young people life skills

There aren’t too many places on Seven Mile Road in Detroit that offer youth the chance to learn Japanese, but at the Detroit Martial Arts Institute they can.

The school, located at 13030 W. Seven Mile, was started by Grandmasters Eugene Woods, Jr. and George Reynolds, who opened the business 15 years ago. Self-defense isn’t the only thing taught there.

Grandmaster Eugene Woods Jr. is pictured with his BO staff, one of the weapons used in training. He is standing in the middle of the practice grounds.

“It’s more than just kicking and punching,” says Woods. “We talk about honesty, we talk about self-esteem and we talk about responsibility.”

The 7,500-square-foot school specializes in Isshinryu karate, a practical-style of martial art that combines Shorin-Ryu (soft style and blocks) and Goju-Ryu (hard style and blocks).

In Detroit there are several other martial arts schools including Detroit Kung Fu Academy, PKSA Karate and 313 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, all of which support a sports-related industry that has long been popular in Michigan and nationwide.

Some schools focus on tournament fighting, practicing a touch style of combat, to earn points in competitions.

Eugene Woods, Jr. (left) and Grandmaster George Reynolds (right) have worked together for at least four decades and have been in business for 15. Their institute offers an after-school program and summer camp, along with self-defense training.

“We adapt our technique for sport tournament events, but it’s not our focus,” Woods says. “We prepare kids for the world, how to defend themselves, and when, and when not, to use your martial arts.”

Owning a business in Detroit, especially on Seven Mile, isn’t easy, Woods says. One of the most difficult challenges is deconstructing the media’s version of martial arts for students of the Institute.

“Kids come in and ask, ‘When are we going to learn how to flip?’” says Woods. “They have a really misguided idea of what martial arts is, but it’s just repetition” that addresses misconceptions.

Martial arts are just one of the facility’s various offerings. Angela Hicks directs Detroit Martial Arts Institute’s after-school program, life skills and summer camp.

“The skills that they learn here carry on throughout life,” says Hicks. “You have to be disciplined to do homework. It’s self-discipline. It helps with all areas of these kids’ lives.”

Charles Jackson, assistant director of the summer program, has been with the Institute almost two years. Some children, he says, enter the school having difficulty with skills like telling time or reading. But Jackson has seen children improve from average students to having 4.0 grade averages with Detroit Martial Arts Institute’s support.

“A lot of the schools are not giving kids what they need to have,” he adds. “Because of what we do here, it’s kind of us piggy-backing off the school to make sure they’re ready for tomorrow.”

For more information, visit the website or call (313) 416-7000. 

Editor’s Note: This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit:

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