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Hoffman Karate focuses on leadership

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


We’ve seen the movies: marital arts is all about flying fists, shattering wooden boards with your head, and plucking flies out of mid-air with chopsticks, right?

Well, that’s certainly the romantic idea of martial arts. Dugan Hoffman, who actually knows quite a bit about martial arts, believes that martial arts is about something else entirely. For 12 years, Hoffman has been teaching students at the Hoffman Karate Blackbelt Leadership Academy. “What’s unique about what we do here is the emphasis we place on developing leadership abilities,” Hoffman says. “What we’re really doing is developing people’s focus and confidence, so they can become successful leaders in life.”

In tandem with martial arts classes, Hoffman Academy even offers a leadership program, where students learn how to lead groups and speak in front of people. Hoffman says his clients run anywhere from 3-years-old to 60. “The main reasons parents enroll their sons and daughters is so children learn self-confidence and self-discipline,” Hoffman explains. “A person’s personality is being formed between the ages of 3 and 6. If you can teach a person how to get up in front of a group and speak at that age, it’ll stay with them.”

Hoffman himself first became interested in martial arts as a child, when he saw a karate demonstration that blew him away. “He (the expert) broke through cement blocks,” Hoffman recalls. “Then he signed one and gave it to me.”

He finally got the opportunity to pursue martial arts as a freshman at Wabash College, where he began to realize that traits like discipline, focus, and concentration were just as essential to mastering martial arts as the physical aspects.

In high school, he had played baseball and football, and continued in those team sports when he went to Wabash. He gave it all up to pursue martial arts. Hoffman says that there are a lot of benefits to team sports, but sees more potential for individual achievement in martial arts. “The minute you start worrying about winning or losing a game, you favor the better athletes, the more naturally aggressive kids,” he says. “In martial arts, we don’t have to worry about competing. We can develop a person to reach their maximum potential. In other sports, automatically half the team is sitting on the bench. You don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest to excel at martial arts.”

The focus, discipline, and concentration Hoffman Academy emphasizes carries over into all aspects of a student’s life. “We don’t physically injure people, we don’t intimidate them,” says Hoffman. “Our goal is to build someone’s strength from the inside out. We’re going to present them with challenges. So if they do their best, they will be successful. That’s the key to building success in all areas of life. That way they’re not afraid to try hard at whatever they set out to do, whether it’s good grades in school, treating people with patience, kindness, and respect, or even making tough decisions to not follow the crowd. The kids that lack that self-confidence, they’re the ones that give in to peer pressure.”

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