Space and purpose come together in man's home dojo
Tired of being shuffled from one gym to another and inspired by his home's wooded surroundings, a Westerville man has opened a karate dojo in his own backyard.
Brent King, who moved to Westerville with his family two years ago, has taught karate locally for the last eight years.
He moved his business multiple times as gyms he contracted with closed down. He began teaching a group of his students in his Gahanna basement.
When he moved to Westerville, an indoor pool area in his new home, with its large windows with wooded views and cedar-plank ceilings and walls, seemed an ideal place for a dojo, King said.
"When we found this house with this space, it worked perfectly," King said. "When we were looking at houses, I thought, 'This is incredible. I can have my personal dojo here and my students can come here.' "
After purchasing the home near Hoover Reservoir, King demolished the pool and built a platform over it. The wood ceilings and walls remained, and the space was decorated with muted colors.
"I really wanted to come back to the traditional roots and have a space where you really felt like it just had a better feeling to it, where you were kind of stepping back in time a little bit," King said.
King began teaching students in his dojo, dubbed Lake of the Woods Karate, a year ago.
King, who has practiced karate for 30 years and is a master instructor, blends styles at his dojo. He focuses on both Japanese Shotokan and Chinese Kempo karate.
That blend, King said, allows him to tailor lessons to each student, creating a fighting style that plays up each individual's strengths.
"A lot of places, if they do one kind of traditional martial arts, they get bound to that," King said. "We're a little different. We're not the strip-mall karate place. We really focus on the student and the individual. Everyone has individual needs. I think in the larger studios, a lot of people get lost."
King said at his dojo, he plans to keep class sizes small.
King said his classes focus not just on the physical aspects of martial arts, but on the discipline and characteristics that he's learned as a martial-arts student.
"I really wanted to share what I had learned because it helps you in just every facet of your life: the discipline, the self-confidence, getting rid of that self-doubt and the fear. It helps you in everything that you do, regardless of what you're doing, both mentally and physically," King said.
King said he plans to further the traditional feel of the dojo with exterior improvements.
A landscape architect by day, King said he plans to add a Japanese garden outside the dojo, where people can sit and enjoy the serene surroundings.
"One of these days, when we get everything in, it's just going to be a beautiful place that people can come and kind of share the experience and the gardens and the dojo, to just have that calm place that they can come and train," King said.
For more information on the Lake of the Woods Karate, visit lakeofthewoodskarate.com.