Keegan Yentsch, Northampton Reality Martial Arts Academy
Job title and company: Northampton Reality Martial Arts Academy, 306 King St.
When business opened: While I’ve been teaching Integrated Combative Arts Training and Lysak’s Sento Method since 2010, it wasn’t until January 2013 that I chose to open my own martial arts affiliate school in Northampton housed at the Northampton Athletic Club.
Your duties: Prepare my students to be able to defend themselves from real-life violent situations.
How did you start your business? I have been training with grandmasters Walt Lysak Jr. and Charlie Lysak in LSM since 2002. In 2010 Walt informed me that he and Grandmaster Richard Ryan of Phoenix, Arizona, were going to begin certifying people to teach Integrated Combative Arts Training and asked me if I would be interested. I jumped at the chance, earned my iCAT Pro Coach certification and license, and the iCAT Martial Arts Training Academy of Northampton was born.
What’s most challenging about your work? Finding the time to dedicate to my craft, the school and finding the time to spend with my family (our son Apollo was born in August) has been the hardest thing since I am the only employee and therefore all responsibilities fall on my shoulders.
What do you like about it? I feel that there is little more rewarding in this world than knowing that you are able to teach some man, woman or child skills that allow them to able to survive a violent attack on their life or the life of a loved one and go home with their body, mind and soul intact.
What is your key to success? I love the martial arts and I love teaching other people martial arts as well. My hope is that my passion comes through in my teaching and my care for my students’ well-being and personal development.
Why did you choose to do business in the Valley? I have lived and worked in Northampton for my entire life, so opening my school here made sense. There was also an apparent void for a martial art school focused primarily on the entirety of effective self-defense.
What has surprised you most about your new or expanded business endeavor? The most surprising thing about my new business was just how difficult it was to get new people into the door. I think there is a great misconception of what Reality Martial Arts is to folks; people think it’s all about brutal competition and flashy egos. Reality Martial Arts combines the character development and focus of traditional martial arts, the effectiveness of unarmed skills found in sport martial arts systems, the cerebral, verbal, postural, legal and moral elements of self defense courses; all of which benefit men, women and children.
Name a few of your goals for the coming year: Continue to grow student enrollment; develop a working relationship with Safe Passage and other violence-prevention related organizations in the area; get the word out about our anti-bullying program; spread awareness in the valley about the merits of Reality Martial Arts for people of all ages, genders and walks of life; continue to guide my current students closer to their goals and toward their black belts.