The Showcase Magazine - Salutes

By Sue Baldani

Third-degree blackbelt Jared Skalski began taking martial arts classes at the age of five and later began teaching and sharing his passion with others. Now, 20 years later, he owns Renegade Martial Arts in Warren, which he took over in 2021.

“What I really enjoy is watching students grow and achieve goals such as getting their black belts or succeeding in competitions and performances,” he says.

Renegade offers two main programs – Ninjas for 4- and 5-year-olds, and Tae Kwon Do for older kids and adults. “In our Ninjas program, we teach the fundamentals of Tae Kwon Do, but we teach a bunch of extra skills on top of that,” says Jared. “Motor skills are so important at this age, so we do a lot of fine and gross motor skills.

The kids also work on developing confidence, balance, and coordination, and learning self-control and how to interact with other students and people. “We also do some team building and self-defense, which is cool.” The school’s big obstacle course is a great outlet for all their energy.

The Juniors program, for ages 6 to 11, is structured very similarly. “We have a lot of students who come because they need the structure and an environment where they can learn how to focus,” he says.

After a year of training, students start sparring in a very controlled environment to lessen any risk of injury, and they can also start working towards their black belts.

“Our school has a really cool tradition,” says Jared. “Every four months we do a big test where students test for their next rank. So, everyone trains together during that four-month cycle and then they all come in on the same day and test with their classmates. The students get to show off all the skills they've been working on for those four months.”

It usually takes five to six years of training before they can take a black belt test, so it's a real commitment. “One of the things that we really pride our school on is that the things we do here are earned, not given.”

He adds, “We also focus on the tenets of Tae Kwon Do, which are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.” Many of the skills learned in these classes translate into everyday life.

All the instructors are also students of Renegade who have gone through various levels of leadership training to eventually run their own classes in a safe and effective manner.

During the summer months, the school also offers adult cardio-based kickboxing classes. “It's a huge stress relief,” says Jared.

Renegade offers a two-week trial as well so kids and adults can try out classes before joining. “We have an amazing community and we've built a really great culture around the school,” he says. “At the end of the day, the main goal is for everyone who comes through the doors to leave with a big smile on their face.”