The idea for Martial Artists for the Advancement of Mindfulness began in 2010. Dan DeVerna, a senior student at the Ohio Martial Arts dojo at the Fallen Timbers Mall, approached the dojo’s sensei, Joseph Hurtsellers, about the primary reason why students might quit studying Martial arts. DeVerna had seen the changes that martial arts practice had brought about in him and others, and he wondered why someone might stop coming to the dojo. Sensei Hurtsellers said that for many students their decision to stop classes was a matter of finances, especially as the effects of the recession of 2008 were still evident.
Sensei Hurtsellers himself recalled an episode when both the concept of generosity and the need to help others through a long-term approach became evident. One day Sensei received an envelope in the mail with a typed note inside. The sender wrote that he had overheard a student talking in the changing room about not being able to afford martial arts classes any more. Inside the envelope were five $100 bills; the sender wanted to pay anonymously for that student’s lessons. When the recession 2008 came, a number of students — some of the dojo’s most enthusiastic members — faced leaving the dojo for financial reasons.
Not long after, DeVerna, Mark Sears, and several other senior students met with Sensei Hurtsellers to discuss a better approach to helping students who might want to continue or even begin martial arts practice, but who were having financial difficulties that would make their practice difficult to sustain. DeVerna, founder of Creative Financial Partners, and others decided to create a not-for-profit organization so that financial issues would not be a barrier to those seeking the benefits of martial arts. As Sensei said, “Our martial arts training is about reaching down inside us and finding something bigger than us … If we all make it, we all succeed. And if even one of us doesn’t make it, we are diminished to some degree.”
Since 2010, MAAM has helped many adults and children get on the mats without worrying about financial barriers. The joys and benefits of self-defense skills, of a healthy body, of a sense of community, and of a mindfulness that helps the individual master his or her thoughts and actions — these have been extended to many more people because of MAAM’s efforts.
The current MAAM Board members are Marks Sears (president), Sue Jackson (treasurer), Dan DeVerna, Mike Snavely, Jade Gaston, Toni Gonzalez, Doug Wright, Tom Cambisios, Ben Kertesz, Sue Martin, and Matt Kizur.
MAAM Board meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month at 11:45 a.m. at the Barnes and Noble store in Fallen Timbers Mall. All are welcome to attend.