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Grogan’s Academy focuses on character development and life skills for each student to develop confidence. The instructors have intense, continuous training and specialize in teaching positive motivation and practical self-defense, with the goal of helping each person — athlete or non-athlete — live their best possible life.
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Photo by David Colburn
Master Richard Grogan poses on the training mat. In his commitment to the art, Grogan studied in Korea four times from 1995 to 2008, and applies his knowledge of tang soo doo, aikido, jiu jitsu, boxing and kenpo to create a curriculum for each class at his academy.
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Photo by David Colburn
Upon entering Grogan’s Academy of Martial Arts at 310 Hillsboro Ave. in Edwardsville, one is greeted by a black belt principles painting on a corner wall. The academy expanded to its third location in 2011 and will undergo extensive renovations throughout the summer to include a secondary training mat, designated birthday party room and space for an after-school program.
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EDWARDSVILLE — Martial arts instruction is more than Rich Grogan’s day job — it’s a passion that spans nearly four decades.
“Of course, I looked up to Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee as a kid, but I think the moment that really struck me was when my grandma took me to a church karate summer camp in 1980,” Grogan said. “I knew from then that I wanted to study tang soo doo, which is the style that Chuck Norris is known for.”
Grogan began Grogan’s Martial Arts in 1997. In 2001, he graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a degree in kinesiology education and served as the K-12 physical education teacher for the Edwardsville School District for the following decade.
“I love teaching children and have a special connection with each one, which shows in the warm, family atmosphere at the academy,” he said.
In 2011, Grogan’s Academy expanded to its third location at 310 Hillsboro Ave. in Edwardsville. The academy is beginning an extensive renovation at the location that will include a secondary training mat, designated birthday party room and space for an after-school program. Renovations will be completed by the end of this summer and will allow for expansion of the current roster of 30 weekly classes.
In his commitment to the art, Grogan studied in Korea on four occasions from 1995 to 2008.
“We had extensive training sessions in the mountains averaging 18 hour days every day, for 8- to 10-day stretches,” Grogan said. “It really gives you a whole new form of respect for what the body and — especially — the mind is capable of.”
Grogan utilizes his training in tang soo do, aikido, jiu jitsu, boxing and kenpo to create a unique curriculum at his academy, to the benefit of students.
Grogan stresses that martial arts training is equal parts physical and mental. Grogan’s Academy focuses on character development and life skills for each student to develop confidence. The instructors have intense, continuous training and specialize in teaching positive motivation and practical self-defense, with the goal of helping each person — athlete or non-athlete — live their best possible life.
“There are a lot of negative influences in today’s culture,” Grogan said. “Our mission is to teach manners, discipline and respect, and to try to create a better society for everybody.”
Grogan’s Academy includes four instructors and a variety of assistants, as well as a teachers-in-training program.
“Discipline includes accountability and responsibility,” Grogan said. “A child without self-respect won’t respect his or her parents, teachers or law enforcement.”
Some crucial facets of Grogan’s training include making eye contact, a strong handshake and speaking properly.
Classes begin with a three- to five-minute “power-chat” to re-establish principles including “honoring parental values, finding focus anchors and conditioning the mind to make good choices,” Grogan said.
Included in each class is the mat chat, where instructors and students sit down and briefly discuss relevant life skills topics for that week.
“Our mission is to help each student live the best possible life through excellent martial arts instruction,” Grogan said. “Kids and parents like to be here.”
The academy reaches out to the community beyond the training mat, with recent fundraisers for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Association, among others.
“On April 30, we worked with the East Alton Ice Arena from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to host a skating and auction event for the Colin Rives benefit,” Grogan said.
Rives is a 13-year-old student battling cancer.
“One-hundred percent of the proceeds will go to help this wonderful family in their time of struggle,” he said.
With his background in education, Grogan is committed to programs that support schools.
“I recently met with Dr. Andre, the superintendent for the Edwardsville School District, to discuss some ways we can partner to help the students in this community,” Grogan said.
His 15-minute School Safe/Street Safe Power Chats explore the qualities of a champion, bullying prevention and child safety. He also provides self-protection clinics, which focus on basic self-defense for teachers, free of charge as part of his mission to support the community.
Grogan’s current success — winning the Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Month in January and being nominated for the prestigious Albert Cassens Community Service Award — comes from his acceptance and commitment to personal evolution.
“An acronym I believe in strongly is CANI — Constant and Neverending Improvement,” Grogan said. “Being nominated for the Albert Cassens Award was an incredible honor, and it motivated me: I’m doing a lot now, but I know I can do more.”
As the weather gets warmer and spring approaches its end, the academy offers a variety of summer camps, including: Dragon Warrior Training & “Courage” June 13-17; Jedi Sword Training & “Focus” June 27 to July 1; Dynamic Kicks and Tricks & “Perseverance” July 11 to July 15; and Olympic Championship & “Indomitable Spirit” July 18-22. Camps are offered to both students and non-students, with discounts available for multiple camps, siblings and early bird sign-ups. Summer camps will run 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and are available to ages 6 and older.
Martial arts programs include the Tiny Tigers course (ages 4-6); juniors course for ages 7-12; and an adults and teens course for ages 13 and up. Classes are designed with an age-appropriate curriculum and focus on establishing body control and coordination, along with confidence, respect, manners and discipline.
“Our students learn more than punching and kicking; they learn to become their very best,” Grogan said.
The academy is open 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. For information, visit grogansma.com or call (618) 656-7700.
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