WEST MANCHESTER — The USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame’s “Hall of Heroes,” originally created in 1976 and based in West Manchester, Ohio, is the oldest running martial arts hall in the nation. They induct people skilled in a variety of martial arts disciplines. Among their most well-known inductees, who are both actors and martial arts instructors, are Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, Bill Wallace, and Cynthia Rothrock; along with recording artists Lou Gramm (lead singer of the rock band Foreigner) and John “Cougar” Mellencamp. Now, Sidney’s own Kyle Scherer is among their ranks.
“People see martial arts on TV and they go to a traditional school to learn. But it’s not like they portray in Hollywood. It’s a lot of hard work,” said Kyle Scherer, who was selected to join the Hall of Fame last weekend and received their “Instructor of the Year” award.
The induction is a result of success in martial arts competitions and years of training and teaching students. Individuals who stand out are nominated, and then a committee of current inductees evaluate the new candidates, Scherer explained.
Now 51, Scherer has been studying martial arts for 41 years. Beginning at age 10, he went to a martial arts class with his cousins. When they stopped going, he found a school he really liked and kept with it.
Over the years, Scherer looked to four teachers who he says inspired him and influenced his fighting style. Randy Knox, an expert in Chinese Kenpo (also known as Chinese Kung Fu), has a “fighting ability like no other,” Parker Linekin, an American Kenpo Karate and Tai Chi master, is renowned for his “instructor ability,” Romeria Sandairs, instilled the “philosophical concepts underlying Filipino Kali martial arts and demonstrated how it was utilized during WWII,” and finally, Yan Moy, “she taught me the philosophy behind Kung Fu, which in Chinese means ‘hard work, skill, and effort,’” said Scherer.
To study with martial arts masters, Scherer said, he’s had to undertake “a broad array of travel” throughout Ohio, California, Canada, and China. He spent a year in California and regularly returns to enhance his American kenpo karate and Tai Chi skills. In Canada, Scherer is the current representative of the Green Dragon Kung Fu group and studies with Grandmaster (Mark) Chan Wha. Scherer undertook three trips to China. Two of them were to the Yan family estate located in a village in Fóshān on the Pearl River. During the third trip, he spent two years in Beijing undertaking extensive study in traditional Chinese medicine, earning his certification in traditional Chinese medicine and the healing arts.
“Tai Chi is popular in eastern and western cultures now,” said Scherer; it is good for balance in senior citizens and clears meridians (organs). Acupressure, acupuncture, and Reiki are also popular uses of eastern medicine techniques in the U.S, he explained.
Today he runs Scherer’s Martial Arts, located at 113 Bowman Drive in Sidney, which has been in operation since 2008.
“I believe we are the longest-running martial arts school in Sidney,” said Scherer. He teaches both male and female students, who range from 4 to 80 years old, and offers one free class for new students in any discipline taught at his school, including Karate, Chinese Kenpo, Wing Chun Kung Fu, Philipino Kali, Thai Chi, Kickboxing and MMA with Jujitsu.
In addition to health benefits, martial arts offers other benefits, like instilling discipline. “I view martial arts as a way of life,” and opening his school in Sidney was his way of “giving a place for people in the community to come. “I’ve had kids come in who were in a lot of trouble. It basically gives troubled youth an outlet, and channels their energy in positive ways by giving them more discipline and adds structure to their schedule outside of school.”
Those with mental and physical disabilities can also benefit from martial arts. “I had kids with Autism as Asperger’s in my classes. Sometimes when they came in they didn’t want to be touched or to talk, but after awhile they became comfortable with basic strikes and kicks, and gradually started making more contact. Martial arts helps with concentration and offers them a chance for physical interaction and socialization with kids their own age.”
For girls who want to try martial arts, some aspects, like kata, with its synchronized movements, resemble dance. For those afraid to get hurt while training, during sparring there are safety measures, like pads covering the hands, head, and feet, and mats lining the floor.
“You’re never to old to start,” said Scherer. “Many adults come for health and well-being, some come for spirituality and better philosophical grounding, and others come for the sporting aspects.”
Everyone excels and progresses at their own pace. A black belt means someone has mastered the basics. But there’s only so many shades of black. So in martial arts, once a black belt is achieved, individuals are ranked by degrees. “Someone has reached instructor-level at my school when they have achieved, at minimum, a third-degree black belt,” said Scherer.
When they are ready, Scherer takes his students with him to national competitions, like the one held last Sunday in Richmond, Indiana. Two of his students (Parker Slaven, who competed in the youth category, and Robert Smith, who enterd the adult category) placed first in Kumite (which in Japanese means “free sparring”) and Kata (which involves “hand and foot sets”). Students also have the opportunity to meet their famous role models, like Cynthia Rothrock who attended this event.
If you decide to take one of the free classes at Scherer’s Martial Arts, he advises, “wear loose fitting shorts or track pants and T-shirts to class.”
Call 937-710-0377 to schedule an appointment with Scherer for a traditional Chinese medicine session.