Martial arts is this family’s passion

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 05/12/2005

As a fourth-degree black belt, Richard Lanza Jr., 24, said he still is learning after nearly 20 years of involvement in martial arts New and changing techniques has kept karate interesting for him through the years, Lanza said.

But sharing that knowledge is what compels him to drive from his full-time job in Jersey City each day to help teach at his parents’ Freehold-based martial arts school, Lanza’s Martial Arts on Route 9.

“I love passing that knowledge on,” he said.

That attitude, comparable to that of his mother, Maria, also a fourth-degree black belt and father, Richard, a fifth-degree black belt, is what has allowed Lanza’s Martial Arts to thrive for the past 11 years.

The three Lanzas, all residents of Manalapan, advanced to their respective black belt degrees last month at a three-day training camp in Orwigsburg, Pa., run by world-renowned martial arts master George Dillman.

“Rank is important to me, but it’s not the be all, end all,” said Richard Lanza, the first in the family to get involved with martial arts. “The opportunity to give back what I have learned is my driving force right now.”

More than 20 years ago, Richard Lanza, who had considered himself an athletic person, decided to take up martial arts for a “new challenge.”

It wasn’t long before he was hooked, and his wife, Maria, soon followed.

“At the time I thought he was crazy,” said Maria Lanza, one of fewer than 10 women to be promoted to fourth-degree black belt by Dillman. “It took eight months for me to go watch him in a class, but I signed up that night and I knew then that I was going to be a black belt.”

Since they opened their own martial arts school, the Lanzas all said the most rewarding part of the job is the progression of their students, both young and old.

“We teach them to be role models and leaders, not followers,” Richard Lanza said.

The Lanzas said it is common for kids enrolled in their program to improve their school grades. One of the requirements to be in the program is to maintain a B average. Also, if a child makes the honor roll all four marking periods during a school year, they treat them to dinner.

“Do we teach punching and kicking? Yes. Do we teach self-defense? Yes? But it is so much more than that,” Maria Lanza said. “We build their self-esteem and make them feel better about themselves.”

For more information on Lanza’s Martial Arts, call (732) 845-9200.

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