A quarter of a century has passed and the Arashi Do Martial Arts outfit is still making all the right moves when it comes to training young athletes.
One of the men behind this little success story is 42-year-old Gary Vig who walked into the former Black Leopard Martial Arts Club in Red Deer as a teenager and the rest is history.
“I remember walking in there and being hooked right away,” he recalled the first time seeing the karate and kick boxing facility in Red Deer operated by Lyle Cheney and Mark Brzak.
Vig joined in on the action as a club member and followed Brzak out to Rocky Mountain house to train more.
Along with a few fellow martial arts enthusiasts, Vig decided to open a school in Red Deer but what to call the school was giving them a fight until it was decided the sign would read Arashi Do which translates into “the way of the storm.”
“A storm is nature’s way of restoring balance when things get out of control,” he explained. “With martial arts, we look at it as a vehicle where we’re constantly trying to maintain balance. We realized we wanted to do this for the rest of our lives, so you want to find meaning behind it (the name).”
The benchmark of 25 years is a special one for any business but Vig says he’s equally as proud of the number of people who started at Arashi Do in the early days and are still involved.
“Especially the instructors,” he said. “The personalities who tend to be instructors are kind of type ‘A’ control freaks and a lot of those guys don’t work very well with each other for a long period of time.”
Vig says he and his co-instructors are friends outside of the business side and their children play together which is a testament to the open communication they have as business partners.
Given those strong personalities Vig says shaping the future direction of the school will always be a bit of a balancing act which can create a challenge at times.
“We all have different ideas of which way the school can go and you have to listen to each other and compromise because everyone has valid ideas.”
Vig is also proud of the fact he’s carved out a successful career as a martial artist and credits the discipline for allowing him to achieve personal and business goals.
He says if he had to work a full time job and then teach martial arts at the end of the day it likely wouldn’t have turned out this way.
But it has and the low-key group does have some plans to mark the occasion which was brought to their attention by a club member who mentioned the anniversary date which may have passed unnoticed.
There will be some fundraisers and special events to help raise cash for the young fighters who train at Arashi Do and are always in need of funding, he said.
But the operators will take notice of reaching a milestone for any business.
“At the AGM this year, the big theme is to celebrate that we’ve been able to stick it out for 25 years and flourish.”