by Sensei Tina Parker (Owner/Director of Operations)
I could write many paragraphs about qualifications, achievements, and multiple awards that have been earned by our instructors and students, and awarded to us as a school over the almost 2 decades we have been a part of the Langley community, but would that really tell you who we are? Probably not. So I am choosing instead to write our story.
A School is Born
Safeguard Martial Arts began its journey in 1996, as part of a small franchise of schools called “Canada’s Best Karate”. The schools were developed under the direction of Bob Mueller, a well-known and well-respected martial artist, instructor, and entrepreneur, living in Victoria at the time. The Langley franchise was opened by Ron Perkio, whose son Eric had been a student at the Victoria dojo. Eric had been bullied as a child and Ron was well aware of the many benefits a good martial arts school could give him. When Ron was later relocated to the lower mainland, both he and Eric began training at a local community center offering the Shotokan style. Unfortunately it did not offer the quality of instruction Ron wanted for his son, so when Bob suggested Ron consider opening a martial arts school in Langley, he took the idea seriously….and thus we were born.
Ron was not a stranger to martial arts when he decided to open our first dojo. He had trained in judo as a teenager, and studied Shotokan karate as a young constable in the RCMP. He was well known as a dedicated youth worker, having been honorably recognized for his work. He received the “Commemorative Medal” on the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, by the Governor General. It proudly read: “in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and Canada”. His experience, professionalism and dedication to karate, without doubt, made him the perfect candidate to develop a community minded martial arts school, with strong business ethics, top-notch instructors, and caring, dedicated staff.
Introducing Tina & Troy Parker
About the same time that Ron was opening his school, a frustrated mother was wondering what to do about her delightfully energetic child, who had single-handedly taken it upon himself to systematically bite every teacher in his Montessori school. At a loss as to quite how to deal with this unfortunate habit, and after speaking with a number of professionals on the subject, she was guided towards looking for a good martial arts school. It was suggested that a healthy and structured activity would help her son channel this negativity into something more positive. After exploring countless schools, she came upon Canada’s Best Karate, which had opened just a few months prior. The school was a very pleasant change from what she had viewed. It was very clean, bright and professional looking, and she felt it might be a good “fit”, so she decided to register her son into the TOTS program.
Guess what?….That woman was me, Tina…..and the child was my son, Troy….
The instructor at the Langley dojo was a tall young man, with a soft voice, twinkling eyes, and a ready smile. I liked him immediately. His name was Tim Bown. He had been one of the most promising young instructors in the Victoria dojo. Ron had recognized this talent and offered Tim the position of Chief Instructor at his new dojo in Langley. Tim was magic with both children and adults alike. He was a skilled, martial artist, disciplined, talented beyond belief, wise, and extremely personable.
Troy took to Tim immediately and within a month of beginning his Tots program, his biting behaviors had stopped completely, much to the delight of his teachers, and the relief of his mother. A couple of months later, tired of alternating between being a couch potato, then guiltily going to the gym to run a treadmill to nowhere, I decided to join the adult class. I was hooked. Little did either of us know that we had begun an addiction that would never end, and one that would play such a huge role in the rest of our lives.
Becoming Safeguard Martial Arts
In 2002, after 3 years and 11 months as a devoted student, and a 20-hour Black Belt test, I earned my first Black Belt. I was 47 years old. If you had asked me 4 years earlier if this could be done, I would have laughed outrageously at the suggestion. A few months later I graduated the IMAA Instructor’s Program to become a fully qualified instructor. I had proudly become the school’s first adult female to achieve both successes. A few years later, in 2007, I was awarded my second degree.
Troy had long since graduated the Tots program and was an up and coming Junior student. When he was 9 years old he said “I want to be a Sensei and have my own dojo before I am 20!”. My reply was “You can do or be whoever you choose, providing you are prepared to work hard for it!”
And he did…
In July of 2004, Troy earned his first Black Belt at the age of 11, followed by his second degree and full Instructor’s qualifications 4 years later in 2008 at the age of 15. And one week before his 20th birthday, he tested for his dream – and successfully became one of the youngest 3rd degree Black Belts in a traditional system, and earning his title of Sensei Troy.
And so the years flew by. The school which began as a small franchise outgrew it’s first location, then it’s second. In 2008 we became an independent school, under the new name of Safeguard Martial Arts. The school continued its growth as did we all. Tim had by now earned his 4th degree Black Belt, and Troy had taken on the role of his apprentice. Ron was still at the helm, and I had become the school’s Director of Operations. The school flourished under our collective care and our commitment to excellence.
The Passing of Torches
As with all things in life…change is inevitable. Early in 2010, our amazing Sensei Tim, decided it was his time to spread his wings. He had applied to become a Border Services Officer, and was accepted. During his training, he became increasingly unwell. Sadly, he passed away at the far too young age of 32 of cancer – just 3 days into his new position. We were shocked and devastated beyond belief.
Tim had prepared Troy well. Although, just 17 when Tim passed, Troy stepped confidently into the role of Chief Instructor, as if he was born to it, earning both respect and loyalty from students both young and old. The first torch was successfully passed.
In January of 2014, Ron announced that he had made the very difficult decision to retire from the dojo he had created and nurtured. He offered Troy and I the opportunity to become the new owners of the school, knowing it would be in the best of hands. I think it took less than 30 seconds for us to make our decision.
Martial Arts…Martial Hearts
And so here we are…almost 2 decades later. The biting child has become a respectful, skilled and much loved instructor, much like his mentor, Sensei Tim. And his mother continues to do what she does best, in her role as Director of Operations and all it entails.
We are a unique mother and son team, doing what we love, and loving what we do, with dedication, passion and heart. We strive to empower every student by offering a positive, caring and nurturing learning environment in which to build skill, respect, confidence and self-esteem. We are educators – integrating important life skills, and establishing strong structure and boundaries into our teachings. We teach both children and adults how to make positive choices in a world that is often filled with negativity, and prepare them for societal challenges that may come their way. There is so much more to martial arts than just punching and kicking, and it is so very important to feel valued.
So perhaps Safeguard Martial “Arts” should be re-named Safeguard Martial “Hearts”.
A school with heart, teaching an important and valuable art, that encourages all who are part of it to become the very best they can be.