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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Blending the arts

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Travis Gibson, owner of Gibson's Martial Arts in Dexter, stands in his classroom holding eskrima sticks.
DEXTER - You might not think of the owner and teacher of a martial arts school as a baker, but Travis Gibson does.

Each day he teaches, he sees himself as mixing and blending. But Gibson isn't blending flour and water and eggs, he is blending time-honored methods of self-defense.

"It's like baking a cake," he said of his school, Gibson's Marital Arts. "To end up with a cake, you have to have a list of ingredients. That is what these arts are the ingredients - the jun fan/jeet kune do."

The end result, he continued, is a method for overall self-improvement and an art that will keep a student engaged for a lifetime.

Opening his school in the summer of 2004, Gibson has attracted students from age 5 to their 50s. He offers group classes as well as private instruction at the school located at 515 Market St. in Dexter.

According to Gibson, jun fan/jeet kune do is actually an art and philosophy developed by the late actor and martial artist Bruce Lee. "His philosophy was you should mix all the arts together to be a well-rounded fighter," said Gibson. "He studied all the different arts and would take some of their best moves and keep them."

It is an attitude that Gibson encourages for his students - to research through the classes the skills and techniques which work best for them.

"We realize that individuality is part of everyone, part of our culture, part of our arts," he said. "The arts, the way we teach it, we give you a lot of information. By the time you are a black belt your specialities will be different from the person who took the classes right along with you."

Gibson learned the arts from his brother, Terry, who was a dual instructor. Gibson estimates he has been studying martial arts some 17 to 18 years including eight years as a teacher/instructor with his brother in Tulsa. Currently he is rated as an apprentice instructor level-2 and he said he is one of only three instructors of the style in Missouri.

The classes introduce students to a variety of styles of martial arts.

There is muay thai, a form of boxing which features powerful kicks and was developed in Thailand, and the Filipino arts which incorporate the use of lots of weaponry from scarves to sticks to bladed weapons. Also students can learn JKD grappling and submission ground fighting which feature wrestling type movements as well as mande muda penchak silat, a blend of Indonesian fighting styles

There is a lot of terminology and a lot of studying when bringing together so many different forms of martial arts, admitted Gibson. "But that is why I like it so much - you can continue studying something for the rest of your life and still not know it all."

He said he also likes the fact that students can take the variations offered by the different martial arts and make it work for them.

"There are high kicks or low kicks, depending on your age or flexibility. No matter what your ability or disability is, it allows you to perfect an art to protect yourself," he said.

But there are some things he insists on from all his students. Gibson said he asks his youngest students to keep lists and track priorities and discourages them from making excuses. He tries to use the martial arts to build self-

esteem, respect and self-discipline, he added.

While it is a sport dealing with fighting skills, Gibson is adamant that his students not use what they learn in class to become bullies or to hurt others. In fact, he pointed out, the classes rarely center on sparring or fighting but more on timing, speed and agility.

Also Gibson's Martial Arts promotes a family environment with classes offered for children and for adults. Within the classes, students are divided by their abilities when working on skills.

The family theme continues even with the instructors. In addition to Gibson, his wife, Ann, and their daughter Sannia, lead classes.

Classes are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and Gibson said he will work with students to meet their interests.

And while tackling the various forms of martial arts is a long-term commitment (he estimated even the most talented student would need more than five years to earn a black belt), Gibson maintained the effort is worth it.

"It is like a different world when you come into the academy," he said. "You leave worries in the car."