PORTAGE | When Art Chambers said he "wanted to get some guns," he didn't mean he wanted to exercise his Second Amendment rights.
"I wanted to get some guns," the 69-year-old Portage man said while flexing his arms before shrugging his shoulders. "I guess I'm still trying to get them."
Well into adulthood, Chambers decided to take a more pro-active approach to health and fitness, and began to weight train in a gym. The gym also housed a martial arts school, and when Chambers was advised to include martial arts in his exercise regimen, he reluctantly obliged.
"I didn't think at my age that I could do the stuff they were doing," said Chambers, who eventually earned a black belt and became an instructor.
"I've taught 'Take Back the Night' classes at Valpo (University)," Chambers said of the women's self-defense program. "I've taught at South Haven Christian School ... and even in his garage."
Chambers was referring to the garage of Chris Boren, who is his assistant instructor at Art's Martial Arts, which is currently located 5605 (Unit 5) Old Porter Road, Portage.
"When I first seen (Chambers) perform a kata just to show me what he knew, I was floored," Boren said. "This guy is a black belt judge. Most people don't know how significant that is. They don't let everyone, let alone every black belt, become a black belt judge."
At the Superstar Open martial arts competition held April 21 at the Indianapolis Marriott Hotel, AMA representatives Boren, Boren's 6-year-old son Likin, and Rudy Heridia came home with trophies.
Likin took first in jiu-jitsu and second in kata; his father took second in jiu-jitsu and Heridia placed second in kata.
Boren teaches jiu-jitsu and grappling at the school, where Soryu and Akido karate are also taught.
"We don't sell black belts," said Chambers, who was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2002. "With the economy today, some schools do that just to keep and get more students."
Boren said their clients include aspiring mixed martial arts competitors.
"Today, you need a good ground-base attack as well as being able to fight standing up," Boren said. "A lot of matches still go to the ground, but lately in MMA there's a lot more stand-up striking action.
"It mixed martial arts. You've got to be prepared for anything."
Competition glory aside, Chambers believes it's more important to be able to defend yourself on the street where a fight sometimes will pick you.
"We've had students survive some bad situations," Chambers said before relating a story of one of his students being attacked.
"(The assailant) was left on the ground just as a cop showed up," Chambers said. "The guy said, 'You see what he did to me?' The cop said, 'Yeah, saw the whole thing ... you got your (butt) kicked but you're still coming with me.'"