After 20 years of training in the martial arts, Tom Ridings has finally reached a point in his life to open his own combat Hapkido school in Meeker.
"I've always wanted to teach," Ridings said. "There's a need for self-protection."
He said with the unrest in the world, knowing self-defense techniques can be critical.
He said during his 20 years of training he has been involved in numerous martial arts programs and received a strong background in traditional Korean martial arts. Ridings said at times when he had no teacher, he trained on his own.
Ridings found the style he wanted to teach when he started studying under Master Steve Materkowski of the International Combat Hapkido Federation a year ago. Ridings is opening his school as a branch of the ICHF under Materkowski's direction.
Ridings said he likes Materkowski's diverse and practical knowledge of martial arts.
Materkowski introduced Combat Hapkido to the Rocky Mountain Region and received his fifth-degree black belt combat Hapkido ranking in 2000.
Although Materkowski is Ridings' teacher, Ridings' students will also get their chance to learn from him.
"I will be bringing all the resources I have available to help Tom ensure his program is a success," Materkowski said. "Our goal is to help each student become the best they can be with respect to personal protection training."
Materkowski said Ridings students' would directly train with him when he makes visits to Meeker.
Ridings said students would learn many techniques, including pressure points, joint locking, control escort techniques, Brazilian jujitsu and ground grappling.
Materkowski said all techniques are designed to help people survive an attack.
He said he has no doubts that Ridings will have a successful school.
"I think he and his new program are going to have an excellent impact on Meeker and the surrounding area," he said. "He already has martial arts programs around the area interested in our style."
To get ready to open his own school, Ridings has been driving to Lakewood to train with Materkowski and other black belts about once a month.
"He is extremely motivated and becoming an excellent teacher," Materkowski said.
Materkowski will teach a seminar May 24 on personal protection as part of the grand opening of Ridings' school.
The ICHF is a school with a lineage. Materkowski's teacher, Grandmaster John Pellegrini, has been Materkowski's main teacher for 10 years.
Pellegrini's extensive knowledge in the art is continually being handed down.
"One of the great things about this organization is the support structure," Materkowski said.
Ridings said he is teaching classes at 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesdays and Thursday but will hold a general meeting to determine what time best suits interested participants.
The Meeker Hapkido grand opening featuring a personal protection seminar with Master Steve Materkowski is from 1 to 5 p.m. May 24 at the Fairfield Center, 200 E. Meeker. Registration starts at noon. Call Tom Ridings at (970) 878-0369.
Master Materkowski performing a combat cane take down.
A photo of Master Materkowski with his family and Grandmaster Pellegrini.