April 3, 2012
North East Martial Arts Institute opens
Longtime instructor opens studio on Owego Street based on Bruce Lee techniques
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jeff Edwards, owner of North East Martial Arts Institute on Owego Street in Cortland, watches the moves of his students, Jordan Laundry, 14, right, and Lucas Libbey, 16.
A long-time Cortland martial arts instructor has reopened his studio at 95 Owego St.
Jeff Edwards, an engineer at Intertek, has been studying martial arts since he was a teenager.
“I started training in 1986,” he said. “I received my first black belt in 1991.”
Edwards holds black belts in four disciplines. He has also studied over one dozen martial arts and has taught at the YWCA, YMCA and at his old studio on Pomeroy Street.
The studio was originally a church. Several years ago Edwards bought the building and began renting it to Todd Finney and Robert Webster who ran Agogi Martial Arts.
The two decided to relocate their studio to Syracuse, leaving Edwards with an empty training room.
So he decided to make use of his talents and opened North East Martial Arts in the 1,500-square-foot studio.
“I retired from instructing about a year ago,” he said. “But I just can’t get it out of my blood.”
He does not teach the more common martial arts like karate or judo, instead his styles were developed by famous martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee.
Growing up on Bruce Lee’s “kung fu” movies inspired Edwards to become a student of Jun fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do, the martial arts Lee developed.
Jeet Kune Do roughly translates to “Way of the Intercepting Fist.” It is based on self-defense through attacking an opponent and using their momentum to your advantage.
“I always had an interest in it,” Edwards said. “I never wanted to do something that everyone else was doing.”
Edwards is the only Jeet Kune Do instructor in New York associated with the Wednesday Night Group, a California-based martial arts school founded by several of Bruce Lee’s students.
Edwards teaches just once a week, on Monday evenings.
Edwards offers children’s classes, a women-only class, and two mixed-adult classes.
He decided to offer a class just for women to encourage any one who might feel uncomfortable or intimidated by training with men.
“It helps loosen them up,” he said. “Eventually some of them go on to join the mixed classes.”
Children who want to learn Jeet Kune Do must be at least 6 years old.
Learning martial arts is not just about self-defense, its also a great way to boost self-esteem and help children stay in shape, Edwards said.
“It builds up self awareness as well,” he said. “The big thing is though it has to be team effort between parents and children. If there isn’t discipline at home, they’re not going to be disciplined here.”
Scott Laundry and his three children began studying with Edwards over three years ago. Today he is an associate instructor at North East Martial Arts.
The key to Jeet Kune Do is that a student can use the techniques that work best for him or her and leave the rest, Laundry said.
Edwards’ broad martial arts base and knowledge of different styles is helpful because it gives students different approaches, Laundry said.
“He’s been teaching for quite awhile and he’ll tell you all the different ways you can approach something,” he said. “Then you can find the most practical way.”
In the future, Edwards plans on expanding into the basement of the building, allowing more space for different styles and training methods.
He is also open to renting the space to other instructors looking for a place to teach.
For more information about the available classes, call 607-423-5849.
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