Martial Arts Academy owner and Master John Holland, 41, of Toms River began training for martial arts at age 12.
He would eventually open Martial Arts Academy, now in Barnegat, but not before starting a career in corporate sales.
"I felt all I was doing with my life was making money," Holland says. "I wasn’t giving back, wasn't really producing anything. I was teaching part-time as an instructor, and I knew I had a teaching gift, and so I thought, 'hey, why don’t I make this my way of life?'
Holland is 5th Dan in Black Cat Kenpo. Though he did most of his training with the U.S. Black Cat Kenpo, Holland also studied Judo and Jiu-Jitsu.
United States Black Cat Kenpo is an American blend of traditional styles, including Korean Tae Kwon Do, Jiujitsu, Okinawan Kenpo, collegiate wrestling and others.
"It’s an eclectic style, and it's geared toward street-based self-defense," Holland says. "It's not a sport-based style, we’re not teaching you how to score points — eventhough we do compete in a tournament once a year — mostly though, we’re teaching you how to survive and hold your own in a fight. Black Cat Kenpo is real-life self-defense that will get you home at night. Ultimately, I don’t care how many trophies my students have, if I see them stand their ground, that’s my trophy. If I see them become a better person, that's my trophy."
What sets his school apart is "the quality of instruction," Holland says.
Holland first opened the school in Manahawkin in 2002, then moved the facility to Barnegat just last year, at 34 South Main Street, Barnegat, (609)549-0279.