Peek Inside A Martial Arts Studio Training Future Community Leaders
For centuries, martial arts studios—or dojos—have instilled discipline, patience, and skill in people of all ages. While it may sound counterintuitive that acting out combat or fighting leads to cooperation and compassion, that is the reality for students of dojos like Quantum Martial Arts in San Francisco, California.
Quantum was founded in 2015 by Rachael Evans, a former U.S. Marine who is also a sixth-degree black belt. The dojo offers classes year-round, but is also well-known for a summer program called Quantum Martial Arts Superhero Stunts & Martial Arts Camp, which operates under a very specific mission.
"We're creating good citizens," Rachael explains.
Operating in San Francisco's Mission District, a neighborhood that is gentrifying but still home to a large community of low-income and immigrant families, Quantum wants the benefits of martial arts—leadership, community building, physical self-awareness and confidence—to be available to everyone who wants to participate. Both the regular classes and the summer camp Rachael puts together are offered on a sliding scale. This way, Rachael says, the community inside the dojo reflects the neighborhood in which it operates. Any student who shows up seeking to learn is accepted.
At Quantum, a unique mix of strictness and freedom creates an atmosphere of empowerment. Rachael expects her students to respond to her directions with "Yes, ma'am," but she also encourages them to let go of any insecurities and fears that follow them around outside of the dojo. Students learn to trust their sparring partners not to hurt them, and to trust themselves enough to try new things, and maybe fail.
Within the special environment that Rachael has cultivated at the Quantum summer camp, students can thrive.
"I just like it so much," says an 8-year-old from the neighborhood named Jaja. "I feel safe here, like it's my home."