Back in 1994, Clint Hughes, a Buena Vista University sophomore, started the kenpo karate club as part of class project. The project quickly expanded to local schools and Community Education. After graduation, Hughes opened schools in Lafayette, Indiana, and Boise, Idaho. Other students of his have expanded Universal Kenpo Karate Dojos to six schools in five states.
Hughes has returned to Storm Lake with his wife, Wind, a BVU professor, and he will be opening a new dojo in the old Cross Atuo & Towing building next to Pronto gas station for an October 16 opening.
"Within a week of moving back into town people are like, 'You're opening a studio right?' and I knew that this town would support a dojo," Hughes said.
Hughes had dreamed about opening a school in Storm Lake even after moving away.
"I would come back about twice a year for the kenpo club at BVU and every time I came back it felt like I was coming home," Hughes said in an interview with the Pilot-Tribune. "And with people wanting me to open a studio, it felt right."
Hughes also does a lot of travel between his other studios but will plan to teach weekends, twice a month outside of his normal class time of Monday through Thursday. His travel has also slowed down his renovation of the new school.
"From here on out it will be a nonstop build for the studio," which Hughes admits will be a challenge. "The studio won't be completely done on the 16th but we have a safe environment with the mats and that is number one. We will go from there with other major projects."
Kenpo Karate is a defensive martial arts form that was brought to America by military servicemen. According to Hughes, the Kenpo relates closely to Kung Fu.
Hughes pushes discipline with his students and make sure that everyone learns the proper technique and proper control and respect.
"I have thrown adult students out of my class before because they wanted to use it for a different reason," Hughes said. "But if it is a younger person then I work with the parents on what to watch out for."
One of Hughes newest success stories is about a student that was small for his age that defended himself against two bigger students.
"Here is a student that didn't want to fight but defended himself and then reported to the proper people what he had done," Hughes said with a smile, adding that he has told the story 50 times.
Hughes also promotes that students can test to improve their rank in their own time and become stronger people both physically and mentally.
"One thing that I do not do is test kids for black belts," Hughes said. "I believe that every student I train will be more solid in the skills here than some other places. But parents can't expect that they drop their kid off for lessons and in two weeks they will have Bruce Lee."
Hughes will limit his class size to 15 students for each level, Kindergarten to second grade, third to fifth grade, sixth to eight grade and adult classes. Due to level of interests, preregistering is starting now and people who don't make into the classes they want may be on a waiting list. The size limit is to give students quality education.
Hughes hopes to be able to expand his studio's offerings to include Tai Chi at a later date.
"Many people don't realize that Tai Chi is a martial art but it is something different," Hughes said. "Kenpo is a workout but Tai Chi is a different style of working out for many people."