Red Dragon Kenpo Karate in Kingsport, Tenn., with its fun and family-friendly atmosphere and expert team of instructors, offers students the rare opportunity to expand both body and mind, empowering them with tools for success both on and off the mat.
Head Instructor Kemp Brown, a 4th Degree Black Belt and Knoxville, Tenn., native, has been instructing and training students in Kenpo Karate since the Red Dragon opened in 2000. No stranger to the martial arts, having practiced since 1993, his method of instruction is characteristic both to his roots in karate and to the level of instruction in Jiu-jitsu he himself has received and observed through renown MMA trainer and medal-winning Jiu-jitsu tournament champion, Dee Smith.
Smith, Head Instructor and founder of Absolute Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Bristol, Tenn./Va., has trained with many greats in the Jiu-jitsu and MMA fighting world, some of which include Rorian Gracie, Royce Gracie, Eddie Bravo, Marc Laimon and Andre Brenner. He is a certified instructor under Roufus Sport Kickboxing, having trained under world-renown instructor Duke Roufus himself.
"Dee has had a school there 15 years. It's the oldest Jiu-jitsu school [in the area]," Brown said.
Smith's academy boasts more than 100 sanctioned MMA wins and holds countless Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament medals. The school offers Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, wrestling, kickboxing and MMA under the direction of expert instructors, having played host to MMA seminars with UFC legends like Chris Brennan and Duane "Bang" Ludwig. The influence of Smith is strong and can be felt throughout the curriculum offered at Red Dragon Kenpo Karate. The school offers the same style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offered at Absolute Jiu-jitsu.
"With Dee we get lots of specialized training that is unique to this area," Brown explained. "We're using his material to teach out of here."
Despite Red Dragon's similarities to Absolute, the school holds a candle all its own offering the unique style of Kenpo Karate, for which it is named, in an environment conducive to family life.
"We've got a strong background in good solid martial arts but we're very family-oriented," the 36-year-old Brown said.
The father of two designed the layout of the school with areas in the front and back for children to safely play while their parents are in class.
"We try to make it very easy for the parents to attend class even if they do have small children," he said.
In addition, Red Dragon offers after-school classes and summer programs for children along with later adult classes, allowing for even the busiest of parents to practice karate at their convenience.
The school hosts close to 100 students at present and "the classes range in difficulty, experience and age," Brown said.
Expert skill is not required to attend Red Dragon and the style of karate taught is as unique as it is ageless. Kenpo is a martial art, teaching self-defense and self-control, steeped in the values of traditional karate yet contemporary in the fact that it allows students to change and expand upon the techniques they learn, allowing for creative growth no matter their level of skill or fitness.
"Kenpo itself, as a martial art, is very blended; it has lots of different styles to it," Brown explains. "As I get older, I add more to my style."
Safety is a key concern in the practice of Kenpo and other martial arts at Red Dragon. "We want to make sure no matter how how hard we train, we're taking care of each other through the class and after class," Brown said sincerely.
Taking classes at Red Dragon Kenpo Karate - whether it be Jiu-jitsu, Kenpo or the other self-defense courses they offer - gives students the unique opportunity to become involved in something bigger than themselves.
"There are activities outside of karate we participate in together," Instructor Scott Glover said, with a smile. "We've actually become a family."
For more information on either Red Dragon Kenpo Karate or Absolute Jiu-jitsu, visit their websites at www.reddragonkingsport.com and www.absolutejj.com. Red Dragon is located at 1033 Wilcox Court in Kingsport. The school is open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Adult classes are offered as early as 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Call 423-378-DRGN (3746).