Fort Smith Taekwondo Academy
Williamsburg Square, 4120 Rogers Avenue, Suite 3-B, Fort Smith, AR 72903
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FORT SMITH MARTIAL ARTS HISTORY
The history of significant Fort Smith martial arts schools (from this writing) started around thiry eight years ago (1972). That's when a young 28 year old police officer named Bob Ross developed a pretty significant martial arts school on the corner of Dodson and Towson avenues.
Officer Ross, even at his young age had already developed a fearsome personal reputation around Fort Smith where criminal elements were concerned. His hard nosed martial arts style, Goju Kai Karate, as well as his own mindset, strength and ability, made Bob Ross a well known name in Fort Smith martial arts circles.
The first school was a bare knuckle, hard contact school typical of this style and this time in history. Throws, sweeps, takedowns, ground attacks, groin strikes and everything else imaginable in combat was allowed and taught in these schools. No surprise that the Towson Avenue Goju school kept the trail to Spark's hospital hot with broken jaws, noses and ribs.
Predictably, from the foundation of that first Goju Kai martial arts schools, sprung up numerous other schools in Fort Smith. Eventually, the "Goju Fist" logo became a familiar sight in storefront windows where "branch" Goju Kai schools opened up. One of these branches was operated by John Clayton.
Clayton, an avid tournament enthusiast, trained his students for, and involved his school in all the tournaments possible. He eventually developed a tournament named the Western Arkansas Valley Open Karate Championships. Over the years, the tournament gained a good deal of prominence and drew martial artists from all over a several state region to compete.
During the time of the Goju "craze" in the area, there was another martial artist who would leave his mark on both Fort Smith martial arts and the martial arts world in general. Around 1975 he was operating an ATA (American Taekwondo Association) school on Midland Avenue.
Mr. Scott McNeely, already a fourth degree black belt in his mid 20s was setting the tournament world on fire. At that point McNeely had achieved national tournament champion status. His school on Midland Avenue was one of the first Taekwondo schools that gained significant notoriety in Fort Smith. The school's training of it's students, while intense and effective, notably focused significantly on safety as well as hard training.
Eventually McNeely's training only allowed punching to the head after upper level ranks were achieved. With his reputation steadily building and strong tournament fighters being turned out regularly, Mr. McNeely's school moved to a more prominent and advantageous location on the South side of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Just as predictably as with that initial Goju Kai school, Mr. McNeely's students began showing up in other local areas opening up their own schools. Some of those students still operate schools in the Fort Smith area today. For whatever reasons the Goju schools that had sprung up and remained strong for quite a few years eventually began to disappear and they scarce today with little presence.
Part of that may have been because of Mr. Ross's eventual departure from teaching as his law enforcement career advanced him to being elected Crawford County Sheriff until he eventually retired.
Mr McNeely, now Grandmaster McNeely, is a 9th degree black belt in Taekwondo. He is the Vice President of International Relations in the Texas based World Taekwondo Alliance.
This is the organization that carries the membership of the Fort Smith Taekwondo Academy. Grandmaster McNeely's past influence in Fort Smith martial arts is still present at FSTA. Mr. Ken Selby continues to carry on the tradition of expert martial arts training that has now been passed down for decades in Fort Smith.
He does so both personally and with expert black belt instructors such as Mr. Matthew Oliver and assistant instructor, Mr. Ken Wilson. Fort Smith Taekwondo Academy provides excellent, intense and effective instruction, while emphasizing safety .
Fort Smith is not large (around 83,000), but has a long and strong history and present in martial arts. Today, for the finest Fort Smith martial arts training, Fort Smith Taekwondo Academy should be your first place to inquire.