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By Amelia Favela
The Ultimate Taekwondo Fighters Academy is a martial arts studio that focuses on training members to become highly skilled fighters. The academy was founded by sisters Ixchel and Samantha Escobar in 2008, and has been located in their hometown El Monte ever since. As both sisters co-manage and instruct classes, their father Carlos holds the title of Master. The family business also treats its trainees as family, as the facility welcomes all ages to come in and train to become ultimate fighters in Brazilian jiu jitsu, muay thai, Olympic-style tae kwon do (TKD), and kickboxing.
The academy initially came into existence as a facility to help co-founder Samantha prepare for the Olympics. With the humble intention of providing Samantha a place where she could strengthen her TKD skills, the owners had no idea what an impact the studio would make on the community.
Shortly after opening the academy, the owners realized it was more than just a training facility; it was an outlet for the adolescents who didn’t want to be in the streets, a place for the bullied to learn self-defense. “Many kids are always out wandering around because they have nothing to do; they’re fighting, doing drugs, getting into trouble, “ Ixchel said, “So we dropped the prices to make it easier for them to join.”
The academy has proven to be a great help to El Monte as the nearly 400 students who are a part of the program learn discipline, respect, integrity, honor and self-control. With the motto, “We build leaders one black belt at a time,” the Master and instructors implement structure through various drills and exercises that teach members how to be strong confident leaders. The tactics have shown to be successful as this is the only TKD academy in the San Gabriel Valley to have 16 national champions; all who started as a white belt.
Getting trainees and parents to understand the mandatory discipline at the facility can sometimes be a challenge. “A lot of people don’t understand discipline, so it can take them a while to know what discipline is, especially adults who aren’t used to it because they’re already grown,” said Ixchel. This challenge is also evident when young students have parents who don’t understand that speaking firmly is necessary in marital arts. As a solution, instructors always communicate with parents to assure they understand why their child was lectured. Parents are also given the opportunity to sit-in every class and watch their child from a comfortable seating area less than ten-feet from the training mats.
Regardless of the difficulties and challenges, Ixchel said the academy looks forward to extending its services to more children, teenagers and adults who want to learn self-defense, discipline and respect throughout the entire San Gabriel Valley. “We hope to open more locations in the SGV to help as many people as we can.”
Contact the academy at (855) FIGHT-08 or visit them at 4337 Peck Road El Monte, CA 91732. www.TheUltimateTKDFighters.com. Facebook.com/TheUltimateFightersAcademy.