Business Spotlight-Harris & Holt Martial Arts Academy

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – “When many people think about the martial arts, the first thing that comes to mind of course is self-defense, but the martial arts is much more and this week our Business Spotlight highlights one of the newest martial arts schools in Clarksville, Harris & Holt Martial Arts Academy.

Harris & Holt Martial Arts Academy offers one of the largest martial arts training facilities in Clarksville and recently I had the opportunity to visit the academy and talk with one of the owners, Blake Harris to learn more about the many features of the school.

Harris is a graduate of Austin Peay State University and along with his partner Ralph Holt opened the business in December 2010. Harris said he has taught martial arts for many years and opening the academy was a great way for him to combine his martial arts skills with his business degree from Austin Peay.

Harris said Holt was actually one of his martial arts instructors when he was growing up and Holt had been thinking about opening up a school. Harris said he had always wanted to open a school and so the two joined forces and Harris & Holt Martial Arts Academy became a reality.

“I’ve been doing martial arts for about 15 years now, I started when I was about 7-years-old and it’s been something that’s been a big part of my life growing up,” said Harris. Harris is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Kami Bushi Do and he has a 1st Degree Black Belt in Shotokan Karate.

Harris & Holt offers a variety of different classes from ages 4-years-old and up, there’s the little Ninja’s class which is for 4 and 5-year-olds, a children’s beginners class which is for ages 6-11 and a teen to adult class. Martial arts practiced at Harris & Holt include Shotokan Karate, Kenpo, Aikido, Judo and Jujitsu.

Currently Harris & Holt have an enrollment of about 350 students training in the martial arts. There are also preschool martial arts programs sponsored by Harris & Holt at many local daycares including the Youth Academy, the Giving Tree and the Settlement.

Harris said he began working with daycares 4 or 5 years ago before he had his business. The course is usually six or twelve weeks in length with one class a week and it mainly consists as an introduction to martial arts.

There are stranger danger drills, self-defense techniques along with other games and drills. Harris emphasized that with the younger kids the classes are more than just punching and kicking, it’s also developing character, listening, paying attention and focusing.

Martial arts training is an excellent form of both self-defense and physical fitness but Harris talked about some of the many other aspects that come from the practice of martial arts. “One of the main things we really try to focus on and not just with the kids but with everybody is developing good character,” Harris said.

Harris added that a well-rounded student is one of their main goals. The students get stripes on their belts for good grades in school and they try to reinforce not just the martial arts but also what the parents are trying to teach their kids. Discipline, focus and self-esteem along with respect which Harris says is a big part of martial arts.

“When I started when I was a kid I didn’t really see the other benefits that my parents saw and I did it because it was fun and I enjoyed going to class but my parents saw the other things that it taught and I think that has really benefited me over my martial arts career,” Harris said.

“I’m sure a lot of people when they think of martial arts they don’t think of those things and that’s what I want to get across to them. It’s not just fighting it’s more of developing character, discipline and self-control,” Harris said.

Talking about Harris & Holt, Harris said he felt that he and Ralph bring a well-rounded family atmosphere to martial arts and they both have good interaction skills with the kids as well as the teens and adults. There are also several families that practice martial arts together at Harris & Holt.

Harris talked about how many parents have told him that they feel that both he and Holt, who are both certified instructors, have a good relationship with their youngsters and are able to communicate well with them as martial arts instructors.

As I mentioned earlier Harris & Holt have the largest martial arts facility in Clarksville and with their success and growth they are looking at expanding and within the next few months there are plans in the works for a second Harris Holt Martial Arts facility.

The school recently received an award as one of the fastest growing martial arts schools in the United States. Harris Holt has also been recognized with a Reader’s Choice Award and was voted the best martial arts school in the 2012 March of Dimes Best of Clarksville.

One final note on something very special offered by Harris & Holt which is birthday parties for youngsters. Each event is two hours long with about an hour or so of martial arts drills and games and the child doesn’t have to be a student at the school. Contact Harris & Holt for more details about their birthday parties.

You’ll find Harris & Holt Martial Arts Academy at 211 West Dunbar Cave Road. They are open Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. You can contact Harris & Holt at 931-542-1151 or at or visit their website”