By Stefanie Donahue
Blaine fitness fiends have a new place to brush up on their kicking and punching skills.
Last month, Lynden-based martial arts instructor Robert Mudgett opened USTA Martial Arts in Blaine at 1733 H Street. Courses vary based on age group, but generally focus on improving self-defense skills, encouraging personal development and, last but not least, mastering the perfect kick and punch.
USTA Martial Arts operates studios throughout the Puget Sound and was founded in Bellingham in 1996 by Master Uoon Choi and Sonny Lee. It’s now the largest group of professional Taekwondo schools in Washington; all instructors are qualified black belts.
The essence of USTA’s mission is to teach students to incorporate the practices of martial arts into daily life in an effort to improve focus, balance and overall fitness. In Blaine, Mudgett promotes a five stripe program that rewards kids for good behavior at home to help develop skills to set goals and achieve them. Reading five books or above the student’s grade level, for example, merits a blue stripe for certain age brackets.
Instructing martial arts comes naturally to Mudgett, who learned Taekwondo at age 15 in the mid-1980s. Soon after, he was helping instructors teach on a daily basis. Most recently, he taught and participated in instructor-focused courses at a USTA Martial
Arts in Lynden.
Mudgett appreciates the combination of individual and team-based work that martial arts training has to offer. “You set the bar with how good you want to be,” he said, adding, “Where else can you kick people and have them turn around and shake your hand and say thank you?”
Mudgett has 18 class slots open in the evenings Monday through Thursday. Formal training takes place 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 4 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
Classes are broken up into four brackets, including Little Tiger, age 4 to 6; children age 7 to 12; adult age 13 and up; and family age 7 and up.
To learn more about USTA Martial Arts, visit ustamartialarts.com.