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Check Out Master Samuel Morris’ Story

Hi Master Samuel, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory
South Orlando Martial Arts (SOMA) opened on June 9th, 2012. The idea was to have a different focus than most martial arts schools. Instead of building a huge student body of 300 students and turning that into a large profit stream, SOMA wanted to focus on those who needed to study martial arts. Training must be affordable, convenient, and focused on the needs of the student and not the instructor. As a result, SOMA serves those who can come and be themselves and excel regardless of physical shape or prior experiences. As the school grew, we came to serve those whose were shunned by the rest of the world for their religion, sexual identity, race, economic status, and age. SOMA now incorporates Para taekwondo for disabled and special needs athletes and has seen those athletes compete and win gold. Students here know that that study of taekwondo is a lifestyle and not an activity.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Growth for a martial arts school is never a continual upward climb when there are so many schools around and many parents see it as just another activity to keep kids busy. Enrollment numbers rise and fall in a continual dynamic. The global pandemic is really the biggest threat to schools currently. Many schools did not survive. SOMA survived by providing video lesson and classes during the lockdown so students were still connected to the school and each other. This provided at least some measure of “normal routine” when everything else was up in the air. Not that classes have resumed, students have become accustomed to training with PPE, and it has only served to strengthen the martial artist resolve of perseverance.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Being a master instructor is the culmination of my life’s professional experiences. I was a broadcast engineer for 15 years and then taught broadcasting for 15 years. During this time, I was training as a student in taekwondo. I had always held the dream of having my own school, one that was affordable (as I saw many students want to train but could not afford the fees at the school where I was) and was focused on the needs of the student (as I saw my teachers push students who were not ready and not listen to the concerns of students). I learned how to relate to kids during my time as a classroom teacher and took great joy when a student excelled at something new. After telling my classroom students for years to find what they love to do and make that a career, I took my own advice and opened SOMA.

What’s next?
We really want to expand our service to the special needs community. I would like to see an expanded schedule of classes strictly for the para athletes. We also are looking to expand our offerings for fitness classes and other self-defense courses for the non-martial artist, such as cane defense and anti-bullying programs.

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