Business

Fitness for the mind, body and soul

Students in the Little Dragons class, for children ages 3 to 7, are led by Family Martial Arts & Fitness Studios owner/instructor Tracy Benningfield on Monday. - Photo by Kassie Korich
Students in the Little Dragons class, for children ages 3 to 7, are led by Family Martial Arts & Fitness Studios owner/instructor Tracy Benningfield on Monday.
— image credit: Photo by Kassie Korich

Teaching martial arts for more than 20 years now, Tracy Benningfield realizes the importance of self-defense.

In passing those skills on to students through training at his Family Martial Arts & Fitness Studios in Silverdale, Benningfield specializes in developing conflict resolution and de-escalation solutions through Shaolin Kempo.

“Even if they’re just interested in martial arts, it’s for them,” Benningfield said. “We teach tactical self-defense and short-duration conflict. If it doesn’t work in the street, we’re not going to mess with it.”

At Family Martial Arts, conflict is viewed from a resolution perspective with the goal never being to seek conflict. Students are taught to first use their minds as a means of self-defense, with physical confrontation as a last resort.

Benningfield, who has a doctorate in ministry, also is a pastor and understands the importance of peace. His classes are Christ-centered and are open to all despite religious preference. Prayer is conducted before and after each class. Many are pleased by the fact that training is Christ-centered, he said, although it does turn some people away. But he adds, it’s something he will continue.

“If I can’t do it for Jesus, I don’t want to do it,” he said.

Having recently relocated from Auto Center Way in Bremerton to the current location near Big 5 Sporting Goods, Benningfield is preparing to expand the current facility to offer fitness equipment for those looking to work out.

“We’re putting in Nautilus equipment, we’ll probably open (that section) in January,” he said.

As for martial arts, both group and private classes are offered as well as special programs such as Combat Hapkido, Kung Fu Club, Black Belt Club and maximum impact training. Classes are for ages 3 to adult. Topics in the younger classes vary and include general safety information, stranger danger and nutrition.

“We cover things like what to do if they’re lost in a store or in the mall,” Benningfield said.

Family Martial Arts is currently offering an enrollment special of a uniform, belt and patch for $29.95 now through April 30.

In all classes, instructors are focused on teaching in a way that is cooperative rather than competitive.

“We’re not a competitive system,” he said. “We’re not here to see who’s best, but help each other become the best they can be.”

Because competition is not the focus of the program, students advance individually.

“We have students who can get their yellow belt in a month and those who get it in a year,” Benningfield said. “It depends on the individual.”

For Benningfield, martial arts has been apart of his life for more than 32 years. In 2004 he was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame and has earned senior instructor certification. With a fourth degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo, Benningfield is the state director for the International Combat Hapkido Federation and Kempo International.

After he and his wife served as missionaries for six years, they formed a new congregation, Church on the Rock. Each Sunday they host services in the next door conference room.

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