APEX — When Mark Loop and Diane Trotter set out to open a business, the husband-and-wife team knew one thing: They wanted to make a difference.
We could buy a hair or nail salon, but we wouldnt be changing lives, Loop said.
They found what they were looking for in PRO Martial Arts, which opened in Beaver Creek Commons this month.
Loop was first exposed to martial arts while serving in the Marine Corps.
Its like playing the guitar. I always wanted to go back and learn to do it, he said.
PRO Martial Arts draws from the Korean arts of Tang Soo Do, taekwondo and Hapkido.
There are plenty of local martial arts companies around. But Loop said what sets his business apart is its Armor Bullying and Predator Prevention Program.
The 26-week course, which features separate classes on bullying and predator prevention, equips children to react in real-life situations.
This is not just stranger danger, Loop said.
In the bullying classes, students learn what it means to be a bully.
Some dont even realize theyre bullying, Loop said. We teach them what that is.
Loop describes a class where the instructor tells all the UNC fans to go to one corner, the NCSU fans to another and the Duke fans to yet another. The child who has no allegiance to any particular team remains in the middle.
The one who is left out can be a victim of bullying by being excluded, Loop said.
During the first class, children draw pictures of bullies on mirrors. The lesson to be learned is that a bully can be anybody.
In addition to classes for children and teens, PMA offers adult self-defense classes.
We teach them to get out of a hold and to hurt the attacker enough so they can get to their vehicle and get away, Loop said.
He has a personal interest in these classes. My daughters are 15 and 16. Before they go to college, I want them to be able to handle themselves.
While there are classes for pre-schoolers, martial arts training begins with a basic program for ages 5 to adults. Instructors have years of experience and receive ongoing training.
To add validity to the awarding of belts, Loop will not rely on his own instructors to test students.
Kids will not be promoted until they are ready, he said. We dont want to give belts because their parents pay for them. I dont want to be a belt house.
The business plans to add classes to meet customers demands. When several potential customers said they were interested in kickboxing but that a changing work schedule would prevent them from committing to a set time, Loop offered a punch card as an option.
He recently had a request for a class for senior adults, which he is working to accommodate.
Loop has plans to eventually offer an occasional parents night out.
Well watch Kung Fu Panda and have lots of fun, he said.