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DEAEF Youth Martial Arts Ohio Youth with Instructor Jimi Miller, December 2022

Spotlight: Master Scott Smith, DEAEF Martial Arts Instructor

If you think that kicking off a new educational program for students during the pandemic sounds challenging, you would be correct. But that challenge didn’t stop Master Scott Smith, founder of Smith Martial Arts School, from doing just that.

Scott lives in North Ridgeville, Ohio, which is the fastest-growing city in northern Ohio with population of around thirty-five thousand. Master Scott worked under the direction DEAEF Regional Director Jodi Obeid to kick off the Martial Arts program in North Ridgeville during the pandemic with the local Boys and Girls Club. Since that time, the program has expanded to also run at North Ridgeville Academic Center with Scott leading and managing the instruction there as well.

“There is so much interest,” said Jodi. “We have 55 students in classes!”

It’s no wonder. Scott personally understands how Martial Arts can inspire young people. He started Martial Arts training when he was around 8 years old. His mother thought it would be a good way to help manage his ADHD. Scott really took to Martial Arts and started competing in Tae Kwan Do in his teens. He is now a 6th Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has over 30 years of experience in teaching children and adults Tae Kwon Do. He’s the 1994 USTU Junior Olympic Sparring Champion, a USTU State Sparring Champion, a two-time USTU State Silver Medalist in Sparring, a two-time USTU Bronze Medalist in Sparring, and has enjoyed finishing in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in numerous tournaments throughout the U.S.

“It’s wonderful to work with more diverse children and to teach more people who normally can’t come to my school. I think they gravitate to structure, and I teach in a very structured way. It’s a goal-oriented program, and they can advance in a new rank after demonstrating competence.”

Students start as white belts and can advance to yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red, red/black, and finally black. According to Scott, to advance from white to yellow can take a couple of months, depending on the student’s effort and understanding of the requirements.

“It’s meaningful to them to advance to the next level, and their expression says it all,” said Scott. “They want more. They are eager to move forward and excited to earn a new rank and invite their parents to watch them!”

Scott said that he enjoys watching the students grow in their confidence, physical fitness, and mental stamina. He says he emphasizes always giving your best performance, and the best way to do that is by taking care of your body and mind.

So far, a few students in the DEAEF Martial Arts program in North Ridgeville have ranked as high as an orange belt. But stay tuned! There’s no stopping these kids—or Scott, who says, “I get to do something I love every day, and I’m blessed to do it.”

Updated Mar 24, 2024