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Local Connection: Grand Master Jay Dunston

If you've been looking for new ways to empower yourself, get in shape, and get in balance this year, you might want to try Grand Master Jay Dunston's Taekwondo and Hapkido self-defense classes, or stick yoga.

We asked the Grand Master how he got started in martial arts. He says his older brother learned martial arts when he was fighting in Vietnam and came home on leave, where he would "practice" on his little brother Jay. Starting in 1969, the future Grand Master decided to learn martial arts himself so that he could retaliate. Unfortunately, after he started training, his brother never tried to engage in combat with him again, so he never got to fulfill his original goal! However, from this experience a lifelong passion was born, as the budding martial arts master learned that the practice was fun, intriguing, an art form and something he truly loved. In terms of martial arts, Grand Master Jay began training in karate, and he soon branched out into kung fu, then taekwondo and hapkido.

Grand Master Jay served in the military for 23 years, where he trained fellow service members in martial arts in Libya, the U.K., Germany, Alaska, and California. Originally from New Jersey, he spent enough time in Alaska to consider it home, but relocated to Santa Cruz in 2006 and has been very happy here.

He considers Taekwondo/Hapkido a lifestyle. It requires discipline and is a skill set that enables you to protect yourself, your family, your loved ones, your country, and your community. Grand Master Jay is particularly sensitive to the plight of anyone who is ostracized and will look out for them as well.

Part of the lifestyle includes maintaining and enhancing overall health. As the Grand Master put it, "eating organic and healthy foods is essential to keep the machinery going." Eating well and practicing keeps him in the shape of a man 20-25 years younger than he is.

Teaching all his classes according to individual students' physical abilities, he's had students using wheelchairs and walkers. The stick yoga class is particularly good for students recovering from knee, hip, rotator cuffs or similar injuries or surgeries, through isotonic muscle-lengthening exercises. All these practices also help with maintaining or developing core strength and balance into old age.

You'll find Grand Master Jay at Freedom Taekwondo, 80 Airport Boulevard Suite 104 in Freedom, on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Stick Yoga stretching is 10am, Hapkido Martial Arts is at 11am.

New sessions start March 4!

March 4 is also when classes start at the Veteran's Hall downtown. Stick yoga and Hapkido are on Wednesdays 6pm and 7pm. The Women's Self-defense classes will be Fridays from 6-8 pm starting on March 6th with a reduced fee, they will be only $80 for an 8 week course (which comes to only $5 per hour!). Veterans can come to class for free!

For drop-ins, there is a sliding fee scale of $10-$20 with a recommended $15 payment. You can sign up for course at Grand Master Jay ranks as a 9th Dan and a member of the World Taekwondo Federation, Pan American Taekwondo Union, United States Taekwondo Association, USA-Taekwondo, World Masters Taekwondo Federation, Korea Hapkido Association of America, World Moo Duk Kwan, and Richard Chun Taekwondo Moo Duk Kwan Legacy!

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