Harris Holt Martial Arts Growing in St. Bethlehem

July 7, 2011 by Thomya Jenkins
The Leaf Chronicle

Blake Harris and Ralph Holt have found their calling – teaching martial arts.

With a combined 40 years of experience in karate, Judo, Aikido, Jujitsu and other forms, the two opened Harris Holt Martial Arts in St. Bethlehem in December.

“This has been something that Ralph and I have always wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself back in November 2010, we decided this was the best opportunity we had,” Harris said. “Since we opened, we have grown at a rapid rate surpassing all of our expectations.”

Harris Holt Martial Arts Academy has classes ranging for children as young as 4 to adults. The classes focus on developing a positive attitude, self-esteem, respect, self-discipline and self-defense.

Holt, the chief instructor, has more than 15 years in law enforcement and security and holds several black belts. He has been involved with teaching 5th Group Special Forces, the 160th Task Force and military police.

Harris, the demonstration team leader, also has several black belts and has taught martial arts at daycare centers and through the city’s Park and Recreation department. He is also a full-time student at Austin Peay State University, where he majors in finance/accounting and minors in leadership.

“This has helped a lot in managing the business side of the school, however there is no class that anyone could take that will fully prepare you more than just the experience of having your business,” Harris said.

Harris and Holt have martial arts teaching licenses and serve as martial arts diplomats. The school offers ranks in Judo, Jujitsu, Karate, Aikido and weaponry.

Harris said that while he and Holt have had to make sacrifices to build their business, it’s worth it. Harris Holt Martial Arts Academy was voted Favorite Martial Arts School in 2011 Leaf-Chronicle’s Readers Choice Awards.

“The best part of owning my own business is the ability to be innovative and have the ability to make my own decisions. I believe a business is a reflection of its owner/owners and I believe that with our knowledge and personality we will continue to have a successful school,” he said. “Going into the business I didn’t realize how much. Ralph and I both have had to make many sacrifices in order to be where we are today with our business. Something else I have learned is how supportive and dedicated my family and students are, and if it weren’t for their support, Ralph and I both would not be able to have a successful school.”