New entrepreneur turns passion into family business
“This all started because my dad stood up to a bully when he was 15,” says Charles Owens II, owner of JMK Martial Arts. “He stood his ground, but got handled pretty bad by an older, bigger guy. He swore he’d never let that happen again.”
Owens’ dad began training in the martial arts under Korean Martial Arts Master Wan Yung Chung in the 1960s. Master Chung’s organization was known as the Jung Moo Kwan, which literally means “Righteous Martial Arts Institute.” Rising quickly rose through the ranks, he’d eventually inherit the practice when Master Chung retired. He kept the lineage of the practice strong by bringing classes to churches wherever he was serving as the preacher.
“Lucky for me I grew up in the practice, so whenever doors were open for class, I was there training,” says Owens. “As I got older, dad let me help teach and my passion for martial arts just kept growing.”
After getting married and moving to Hartselle, Owens spent more than a decade practicing and teaching martial arts at their church and the local Civic Center. As classes grew, sharing space and scheduling around other programs like ballet, basketball, and dance became more difficult. Owens and his wife Meghan knew it was time to make a decision.
Turning a passion into a solid business:
“I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit,” said Owens. “But once we started having kids, I wanted to build something we could all be proud of that also let my kids see the importance of hard work.” Now an LLC, JMK Martial Arts & Fitness is uniquely recognized as one of just 31 authentic martial arts institutes by the World KiDo Federation.
After months of searching for rental properties to house the studio, the Owens family decided to buy a historic building right in downtown Hartselle. As a new entrepreneur, Owens had trouble securing a traditional loan, but his banker told him about Pathway Lending.
With a loan from Pathway, Owens purchased and renovated the building, and bought all the equipment their dojo needed. “It’s been wonderful to work with Pathway – their team always go the extra mile, not just with financing, but also with helping me with questions on my finances,” says Owens.
Since opening the dedicated studio, JMK has doubled their number of enrolled students and recently launched an instructor development program to keep up with growth. “We’re creating an opportunity for people to have a side income down the road,” says Owens. And now, all three of his own children are enrolled in JMK classes.
“It’s humbling to take my dad’s legacy and passing that on to my own next generation,” says Owens. “Sowing the seeds and watching this practice grow is humbling, but I consider it an honor.”
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