Tor Kids. For Adults. For Life. This is our company tagline and belief in the personal growth that martial arts can provide. DOJO Karate is a locally owned business that was founded in the summer of 2000. There are now 9 DOJO Karate locations committed to fostering an environment of growth, respect, and discipline, the foundation for a martial arts academy that would make a lasting impact on the community.
DOJO Karate Medina will be celebrating its 15th year anniversary serving the Hamel-Medina and surrounding areas. Since 2009, DOJO Karate has been blessed with the opportunity to guide numerous students in their martial arts training. Over 300 students, ranging from 3 years old to adults, are currently experiencing the lifelong benefits of karate.
One of the distinctive features of DOJO Karate is catering to the unique needs of children and families. Recognizing the formative years as a critical period for character development, DOJO Karate places a strong emphasis on programs tailored to the specific challenges and opportunities presented by these age groups. Through age-appropriate training techniques, engaging activities, and positive reinforcement, DOJO Karate Medina ensures that every participant, regardless of age, feels a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
As the owner of DOJO Karate Medina, I started karate almost 35 years ago. At the age of 7 my father enrolled me at a nearby karate studio. I was experiencing what a lot of kids are facing still to this day, bullying and lack of self-confidence. I still remember taking my first lesson. I did a private introductory lesson with the instructor and was kicking head level on a blue, circle kicking target. I was a big fan of martial arts movies and the Ninja Turtles, so I had seen kicks and punches before.
After testing for my 1st degree black belt, I continued my training with multiple time world champion, Steve Carlson. Mr. Carlson was a great role model for me to have as a teenager and young adult. Having such a skilled martial artist as my primary instructor was pivotal for my skill development. But more importantly, Mr. Carlson helped me establish the confidence in myself to not only compete at a high level, but to also begin instructing karate to others as well. I knew since middle school that I wanted to grow up and teach karate and run my own karate school.
Teaching karate gives us purpose and I am very thankful for the trust the parents and students share with us. Students not only learn the art of self-defense but also cultivate qualities such as focus, self-discipline, respect, self-confidence, awareness, responsibility, and self-control. Even after someone’s first lesson, you can see the life skills and benefits start to take shape. DOJO Karate promotes developing your “Black Belt Attitude” which consists of Respect, Focus, Discipline and Confidence. No matter how long someone trains in karate, this will assist each student with improved academic performance, other athletic endeavors and heightened efficiency in daily responsibilities.
A great example of the life long benefits that martial arts can provide is one of the lead instructors at DOJO Karate Medina, Derek Helvey. Mr. Helvey began his karate training when he was eight years old. His parents felt karate and the structured environment would be a great outlet for him. Mr. Helvey as a young man was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. The years of practice in karate has helped him with the sense of self control, awareness and increased concentration. He has grown into a key instructor and leader at the academy.
DOJO Karate Medina’s head instructor, Javier Franco, has also been a key contributor to the school’s success. With almost 40 years of experience in karate, boxing, kickboxing, jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts, Mr. Franco’s dedication to training is a great example for his students. Respect and patience are the cornerstones of his martial arts philosophy; he instills this principle in every student. By fostering a culture of mutual respect among students, instructors, and oneself, participants learn to navigate life with dignity and humility. Simultaneously, the academy’s training promotes individuals to face challenges with resilience and assertiveness.
Not only do we have lifelong veterans of the sport like Mr. Franco, but have also been fortunate to attract younger talent like Ms. Du Pre who although is relatively new to the art, is growing to become a key part of our leadership team.
Beyond the great respect I have for our instructors and passion for teaching students, I am also proud of our partnership with the Autism Society of Minnesota (AUSM) and the support we provide them with our charity golf tournament and competition team, Team Evolution. Over the last 13 years, we’ve raised over $100k for the foundation.
DOJO Karate Medina stands as more than just a martial arts academy—it’s a community dedicated to growth, resilience, and the lifelong pursuit of personal success. As we celebrate 15 years in Medina, we look forward to continuing our mission of instilling respect, focus, discipline, and confidence in every student who walks through our doors. Thank you for being part of our journey.