Offbeat Occupations : Fifth-degree black belt helps kids get defensive

ajcc-martial-arts.jpgBy Heather Posey
Staff Writer

The Alpert Jewish Community Center (AJCC) has a new sensei for their martial arts classes and, with over 35 years of experience, Mac McKinney is teaching warriors of all ages self defense and skill.
A fifth-degree black belt, McKinney has achieved the expert level of training in various disciplines.
“I have studied 17 different forms of martial arts, including Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu,” he said.
Combining his combat skills with a practical approach, McKinney has trained professional boxers, grapplers, wrestlers and champion kickboxers. And with each year he has seen the demand for his expertise grow.
“There was a slow period, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship brought a renewed interest and people started getting into it again and made me want to teach again.”
McKinney soon went from professional fighters to the youth of Long Beach when he took on the position of martial arts instructor earlier this year at the AJCC. His classes, which take place every Wednesday at the center, teaches students Shotaikenjitsu Martial Arts Reality Training (SMART), a form of self defense which McKinney co-founded.
“It’s a very realistic style,” he said. “It shows you what to do if someone grabs you or tries to attack you.”
According to McKinney, SMART breaks the martial arts stereotypes by teaching to not immediately strike back, but to start with self reliance, self respect and autonomy.
“People think that it’s all Karate Kid and Chuck Norris fighting, but when they see how hard it is they give up,” said McKinney. “It’s a lot of hard work and I love teaching people who love to learn.”
And with students ranging from preschoolers to teens, he has a range of students interested in learning the skill.
“I love watching them get better and seeing that they know now how to defend themselves.”
McKinney’s youth martial arts classes are on Wednesday afternoons starting at 2:45 with ages 3-5 and each class is one hour long. The winter session has already begun, but students are welcome to join anytime. The cost is $65 for AJCC members and $85 for nonmembers.
The Alpert Jewish Community Center is located at 3801 East Willow Street in Long Beach. For more information, call Cindy Jarvis at (562) 426-7601.

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