With several black belts to her credit, Lavonne Martin is bringing new meaning to the term “girl power” by teaching students of all ages how to protect themselves on and off the studio mat.
âI was a girl from a small town in Illinois with two young children, looking for a little exercise. And then, all of a sudden, I was a black belt in two different arts, ârecalls Lavonne Martin. As a woman in her twenties in 1977, Martin was on the older side of those who entered the martial arts world. But, immediately taken up by the sport, she quickly threw her plans to become a psychiatrist out the window, made a living and traveled to Los Angeles to train with Sifu Dan Inosanto, a living legend of progressive martial arts with an academy in Marina Del. Rey, California.
Now a certified guru herself (one of the few women in the world with full training in Filipino martial arts), she has shared her four decades of expertise in her Sarasota studio for 15 years. âMy name is on the front door so I can do whatever I want here,â Martin jokes. After years of fighting his way to the top of male-dominated sport, Martin has certainly earned the right to call the shots. She is thoughtful and direct in her approach, which includes an interview with any potential student. âEveryone that comes here, I say, ‘Look, if you don’t like a woman telling you what to do, then this isn’t the place for you,’â Martin says. âI want every woman, man and child to feel safe here to grow and change. This studio is an experimentation lab, a place to find what works for you.
A personalized and varied lesson plan is the basis of Martin’s teachings because she appreciates the differences in all students. âI’ve seen people come here with an arm, or part of their body couldn’t move or a hand didn’t feel any way, but we changed things to give them back that power and say, ‘ Yes, I can do that, âsays Martin. Martin teaches his students to know their surroundings and to trust their instincts – important and real lessons. âMy teaching is focused on the street. You don’t want to train one way and then get into trouble on the street, âsays Martin. âNobody’s going to throw you a pair of boxing gloves over there. I want my students to learn to adapt. SRQ
Martin Academy of Martial Arts, 6341 Porter Rd., # 5, Sarasota. 941-342-9944. martinacademy.com