Published May 18, 2004
Volume 12, Number 5

Students at Self-Defense Institute Gain Confidence, Fitness
Family-oriented atmosphere and expert trainers make martial arts accessible

An SDI instructor, left, works with two students on a recent Saturday morning.

By George Walsh
Special to NETWORK

When many people think of martial arts, the first ideas that come to mind are the aggressive combatants in action movies and television shows, picking fights to show their strength and tenacity. In fact, the opposite is generally the case. Most forms of martial arts are intended not to encourage aggression, but to give students self-confidence by teaching them how to protect themselves from harm, along with the grace and stamina that comes from the physical training involved. Those interested in investigating martial arts in the Tri-Valley now have a new place to visit in Hacienda, the Self-Defense Institute’s 14,000 square foot facility at 5724 West Las Positas Boulevard.

The Self-Defense Institute teaches Tae Kwon Do, Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, Kodokan Judo, Krav Maga, and a hybrid art called Hosinsul, which incorporates fighting techniques taken from Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Tang Soo Do,  Jujitsu, Judo, Karate, Aikido, Kenpo Karate, Arnis, Escrima, boxing, wrestling, military hand-to-hand combat, and law enforcement control holds. “We have full staff and a full curriculum with black belts in every art that’s taught here,” says Dawn Moeller, co-owner of the Self-Defense Institute. “Our instructors have years of experience and most of them are black belts in several arts.”

SDI started out in Newark but had to move after a year because it outgrew the space. Then, the training center moved to Fremont to a facility that has been open for 12 years. “At the Fremont location, we ended up expanding so that parents could train in something intense like Krav Maga, while the kids were taking classes in Tae Kwo Do, where it’s more about structure and discipline,” Moeller says. “The whole family can come in and get training with the kids in classes with their peers and the adults training with other adults.” SDI trains everyone from law enforcement professionals to school teachers to housewives. The Institute’s grand opening at Hacienda took place on April 17th. The new facility includes a weight room, multiple training floors with aerobic quality padding, a boxing ring, locker rooms, and showers.

SDI pays special attention to the training of children and works hard to cooperate with teachers and parents to help them take the lessons learned from the arts into the rest of their lives. SDI's philosophy is family first, school second, and martial arts third.  “We really feel kids need the self-discipline and respect and etiquette that comes from martial arts.  So, there are certain things that we only teach the kids and there are other things that we don’t teach them because they’re more combative,” Moeller says. SDI believes that martial arts are good for the growth of children and can even be a strong resource for those who have been diagnosed with A.D.D. or A.D.H.D.

In addition to the high quality facilities and family-oriented training, Moeller feels that the atmosphere of SDI is what really sets it apart. “We have the most amazing staff. Not only are they experts in self defense and the martial arts but they’re the nicest, most humble people you’ll ever meet. There’s no cockiness here. People who come to train here are shocked not only because it’s such a big professional facility, but because it becomes sort of a second home. You don’t usually find that. You either find a little hole in the wall training center with a family atmosphere or a big facility where you lose that feeling. We have both.” For more information about SDI’s training programs and rates contact the Institute at (925) SDI-TEAM or visit their web site at www.selfdefenseinstitute.com.


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