Martial Arts Takes Center Stage In Gulfport

Martial arts is all about self control training and respect.

One South Mississippi karate instructor is teaching that message in the African American community and his students are passing with flying colors.

The contact sport of martial arts is growing in a Gulfport community thanks to 8th degree blackbelt and grand master Rick Barber.

Barber is teaching kids on the coast the art of martial arts.

"Football, basketball, track, all those types of sports is seasonal. Martial Arts is something that you can do year-round. It enhances your ability to do those other sports, so you don't have to choose one or the other, you can still do martial arts and still train in other sports," says Barber.

He has been training for 23 years, and his love for taekwondo can be seen through the faces of his students.

While some may have doubts about the sport, parents like Altagracia Dozier say martial arts taught her son self-control, not violence.

"People think if they put their kids in martial arts, they are going to be aggressive once they go to school. But he's never been in a fight, he's in the third grade. If anything it's very positive," says Dozier.

It's a positive sport and for the students it's also rewarding.

The combat academy recently represented the state of Mississippi in the United States Karate World Alliance Championship and they didn't leave empty handed.

"We came back with over 30 first place trophies and medals, gold medals, silver medals and bronze medals," says Barber.

Proving that martial arts can be both rewarding and fun.

Sessions at the Combat Academy are taught at the Good Deeds Community Center. Classes are only 40 dollars a month and that includes uniforms.

For more information you can call 228-669-2669.