Martial arts studio emphasizes discipline without violence


The long-standing and successful Center for Martial Arts in Encinitas has recently expanded with a new studio in Carmel Valley.

The Center for Martial Arts, whose motto is “traditional martial arts, modern methods,” offers instruction for all ages in the traditional Korean martial arts of Tang Soo Do and Hapkido.

While Tang Soo Do focuses on kicking and punching, Hapkido deals with joint manipulation, pressure points and misdirection of movement to enable one to control their opponent without striking them.

The owner of the Center of Martial Arts, Mark Pattison, began training at the age of 7 in his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. He described himself as a “latchkey kid” who had to go to the local YMCA every day after school, where he would often observe a martial arts class. After about a year, the instructor approached him and asked him if he wanted to join, and the next day he found himself “trying to put on a uniform (and) a white belt that’s two times too long to fit around my waist,” said Pattison.

Pattison moved to San Diego in 1985, and he continued to train and assist in teaching classes. In 1993 he and his instructor opened a studio together and in March of 1995 Pattison assumed full ownership of the studio, which was then called United Tang Soo Do Karate. In 2001, he expanded the studio to 3,350 square feet and added a second training floor and changed the studio name to the Center for Martial Arts. The Torrey Hills location opened in March of this year.

In addition to Pattison, the two primary instructors are Matt Goodsell, 23, and Merl Goodsell, 21, who Pattison described as being “amazing martial artists” and having “big open hearts.”

The brothers began training with Pattison in 1996. At the time, their best friend was attending Pattison’s studio, and the boys would watch class and try to imitate the moves they saw in the back of the room. Their parents, however, were reluctant to let them join because they feared martial arts would teach them to be violent.

“After about a year, we ended up watching classes until Master Pattison was able to explain to my parents the benefits of martial arts, that it’s not violence, that it’s character building,” said Matt Goodsell, who also described Pattison as being a father figure. “And from there, it’s a lot of sweat and good times and smiles and feeling good about yourself.”

The misconception that martial arts encourages violence or aggression is a common one, Pattison said. However, once children learn that martial arts is for defensive purposes only, they often become less aggressive.

“They find something that makes them feel good because then they have pride in themselves and confidence develops,” said Patterson.

“There’s a lot of students that we have in Encinitas…that are sent to us from the school district because they’re hyperactive, or they have all this extra energy and they need to learn how to channel it and focus.”

Pattison also said that the discipline learned in martial arts often carries over to other areas of the students’ lives. “It’s also an opportunity to instill a lot of the things that are missing in society, the discipline that becomes self-discipline, the teaching them how to stay on task, which becomes focus, which is then self-driven so they can achieve better grades in school,” Pattison said.

The Center for Martial Arts also has an after-school enrichment program with the elementary schools of the Del Mar Union and Encinitas school districts. The program, which serves approximately 140 students, offers martial arts instruction on school campuses for an hour after school on a weekly basis. According to Pattison, not only does it allow parents an extra hour to get errands done, but it children the opportunity to see if martial arts is an activity they would enjoy getting involved in.

Although one might think martial arts training is primarily for children, Pattison said the art form draws people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“At the studio I have in Encinitas I’ve had everything from the chief of anesthesia of Scripps La Jolla, to computer programmers, to sanitation engineers,” said Pattison. “You name the field, they all get out there, they all learn, they all interact with each other, and they have a great time.”

For more information on the center for Martial Arts, call (858) 755-6470 or e-mail