In 42 years learning and then teaching the skills of the traditional Shotokan style of karate, earning two world kickboxing championships himself and teaching 352 students to become black belts, Jimmy Blann certainly knows a thing to two about the sport.
You could say he has been really "kicking it" with his business, Blann's Martial Arts, a school in Southaven that has been teaching his students how to defend themselves, and in doing that, provide more personal confidence and belief in their abilities.
Blann, who grew up in Coldwater, has been involved in the school since 1980, he said, teaching a skill that became a huge personal asset to him as a youngster.
"When I was growing up in Coldwater, I used to be one of those guys who was picked on," Blann said. "Fortunately, I had a brother who already knew how to fight, so he taught me how to protect myself and defend myself. He was already a black belt, so I started taking it under him as an outlet."
As Blann was learning about karate, the sport of kickboxing, or full-contact karate, was becoming more popular and Jimmy and his brother started training in the sport, as well, with Jimmy becoming skilled enough to the point of claiming two world kickboxing titles.
But helping people was also foremost on his mind.
"I wanted to be helping that guy who is shy to have a little confidence and stand up for himself," Blann said. "The same for the little girls, to protect themselves from the bad guys out there, because there are plenty of them. That's the reason I got involved with the school."
The style of karate, called the traditional Shotokan system, offers some differences from what people may commonly relate to the martial arts of karate.
"With the Korean style, they like to do a lot of kicking," Blann said. "We kick a lot but we use our hands as well. If we can teach them to use their hands, they do not have to kick so high." People who get into karate can reap a lifetime of benefit from the sport, according to Blann.
"It is going to help you with balance, strength, coordination and stamina,"
Blann said. "I have people who have been with me for as much as 35 years who are as agile, or maybe a little bit more than when they first started."
Blann added karate can become a means of stress relief, offering mental benefits while promoting a positive lifestyle.
For more information regarding Blann's Martial Arts, call 662-393-8311 or go online to blannsmartialarts.com. Blann's Martial Arts is located at 1880 Forrest Drive, just south of the Tennessee state line and east of U.S. Highway 51 in Southaven.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be
reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.