Following in his footsteps
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Being inducted into the International Kenpo Hall of Fame was an honor for local martial arts instructor Juan Martial, but knowing he was following in his father's footsteps made it even more special.
Martial, 37, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June — the very same honor his father, Angel Martial, received in 2007 as one of 47 charter members.
"I was chosen, I believe, because I've dedicated 32 years of my life doing this and because of my father, of course. He dedicated 45 years before his death (in 2008)," said Martial, who now owns and is an instructor at Martial's Kenpo Karate in Garden City.
Martial is now one of only 300 International Kenpo Hall of Fame inductees. A governing board, the Yudanshaki, bestowed the honor on Martial after discussing and voting on this year's inductees earlier this year.
Martial, a fifth-degree black belt, was recognized at the bi-annual Hall of Fame awards banquet on June 27.
Martial has been following his father's lead his entire life, officially beginning training under Angel when he was only 5 years old.
"They say officially 5 years old because, at that time, you could only start at 5 years old. But they say my dad was already training me when I was in diapers," Martial said. "He was my instructor, my mentor, my boss, my father. He meant the world to me."
Martial's induction into the hall of fame means that he once again follows his father, yet this time shares the honor.
"My father is the one that would accept the awards and the prizes and all the fame, and for my name to be on there is a surprise," said Martial. "For me, I never thought I'd be there."
The younger Martial has not only trained in Kenpo for 32 years, he also began assisting in the instruction of classes when he was 12, and, after moving to Garden City 16 years ago, helped start Martial's Kenpo Karate in 2000 and eventually took over the gym in 2003.
The discipline, respect, strength and honor Martial learned, and now teaches, during Kenpo has helped throughout his life.
"It kept me out of trouble growing up. It kept my grades up, got me to graduate high school and go on to college and have a successful business," he said.
Martial now teaches several classes a week at Martial's Kenpo Karate, competes with his students at tournaments and travels to Kenpo seminars throughout the country.
"It's a continuing passion for me," he said. "It will be for the rest of my life."