Martial arts can be a violent sport. In MMA fights, even the victor is often left bloody and swollen.
But for 11-year army veteran Jason Jonas, martial arts, specifically taekwondo, was a way of healing.
“When I got out (of the military), I had multiple injuries and I didn’t think I could do martial arts anymore,” he said. “I had a couple friends that were martial artists that were getting married, and they talked me into coming back and trying out a class, and as soon as I came back, I got re-addicted, and then ironically, what I thought I couldn’t do because of my physical limitations ended up helping my injuries quite a bit.”
He and his wife, Bianca, own PHX Martial Arts in Anthem. The school’s primary discipline is taekwondo, but it teaches a variety of martial arts.
“Our main focus is taekwondo. We do offer Krav Maga and a mixed martial arts program called Warrior Martial Arts, and it kind of goes off kickboxing, boxing, muay thai, things like that,” Bianca said.
“It is more than just a martial arts school,” she said. “What it really focuses on is the perseverance and the leadership skills for all ages.”
“The most common things that people end up enrolling for and receiving are self-confidence, discipline, structure and leadership,” Jason added. “Those would be followed pretty closely by physical fitness and self-defense.”
With summer not far off, PHX is preparing an augmented summer camp schedule due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Normally, for summers, we like to offer a summer camp for every single week,” Jason said. “But, with the pandemic over the last year, we know that numbers are going to be limited.”
“We thought for this summer, we would offer three different weeks of camps.”
“We’re starting out this summer with a couple of rank-advancement camps with a competition-building theme,” Bianca said. “It allows students to get a competitive edge as an athlete, whether they’re in martial arts or any other sport, and get trained as such.”
Children as young as 3 can enroll at PHX, which has programs for every age group, including adults.
“Obviously, adults have a lot of stress that gets put into their lives, whether it’s from work, from parenting, just from life in general, from a pandemic, so it allows a physical outlet,” Jason said. “That way, you’re able to go workout, get some of that stress out of your body, and then also help fight off injury and dementia with mental training, physical acuity and then mobility training.”
As someone who began martial arts in her 30s, Bianca understands the challenges that a late beginner faces.
“It was an experience, for sure. I’ve always been pretty athletic, I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but martial arts is just something that you don’t quite prepare your body for until you actually do it,” Bianca said. “The flexibility and the discipline that goes into maintaining a sport like that was a lot more than I thought it was going to be. So, that was the first challenge.”
According to Jason, martial arts is a growing sport in Arizona, with major tournaments eyeing the Valley as a host.
“Phoenix is actually kind of one of the martial arts hotbeds, as far as all the major cities in America,” Jason said. “There’s a few different styles of taekwondo, and one of them is actually hosting their world championships here in Phoenix this summer, and one of the other ones is looking at having their national championships here.
“I think there are four different major styles of taekwondo: One of them has over 20 locations in the Valley, one has a few, and then the other ones have multiple affiliates here,” Jason continued. “Jiu-jitsu is one of the fastest-growing ones around town, and there’s a few MMA gyms that have national notoriety.”
Regardless of discipline or experience level, Bianca said PHX offers something most schools don’t.
“We have a family environment that I think is hard to find at most other martial arts schools. It’s difficult to find staff and people with the same thought process,” Bianca said. “Once you’re a member here, we’re never going to turn our back on you. Whether you continue with us or not, we’ll always be an open door for you to come to us if you need anything, so it’s more than a membership, it’s a family.”
PHX Martial Arts
4235 West Opportunity Way, Unit 100, Phoenix