I got this from some people at VeriSEAL Group (the guys that can tell you if someone was a SEAL or not) This knuckle head screams "poster child" http://www.nashvillerage.com/features/archives/05/01/65998141.shtml [size=+2]Southern Samurai [/size] [font=verdana, arial][size=-2] [/size][/font] [font=arial,helvetica][size=-2] By Hollie Shulick Staff Writer [/size][/font] When you walk into Executive Martial Arts, it may take a few moments to notice some of the differences that set it apart from any of the hundred other martial arts studios in town. It could be another local instructor fitting in a lesson before heading back to his own place, or maybe the swords and archery equipment lining the walls, along with imitation guns and knives. Or the bale of hay hanging from the ceiling, strictly for the purpose of testing the sharpness of the aforementioned swords. The least intimidating thing in the studio is owner Chris Garland - at least on first glance. Chris could be any 31-year-old youd meet out on the town - good-looking, longish hair, muscular body. But hes more than he seems. He could very well be the most dangerous man in town. And thats a good thing for local women. Chris, grandson of bluegrass legend Vassar Clements, has his grandfather to thank for his 27 years of experience in the martial arts. " I was raised as a music child, and I would go overseas with my grandfather when he would do gigs, " Chris says of his introduction to martial arts at age 4. " It was always the Asian way to give gifts. So my grandfather asked them to give me what he wanted me to have (lessons in the martial arts), without really realizing what was going to happen years down the road, and what they would turn me into. " And thats Samurai, trained in a wide variety of martial arts practices, particularly the sword. His skill was immediately recognized, and Chris spent every summer until his teens training in Korea and Japan. He was a black belt by 7, teaching his own students by 16, and by 17 was infantry in the army, training special forces. After four-and-a-half years of active duty, Chris became an independent contractor for the Special Forces. He has recently retired and is now teaching self-defense full-time in Nashville. Ex-Marine Jennifer Smith has been training with Chris for the past five years, and even she admits she doesnt know what she was getting into. Having just moved here from Hawaii, she signed up with another mother who didnt want to go to self-defense classes alone. Now, Jennifer is one of Chris top students; she even teaches classes herself. " He was so intense, " Jennifer says of her initial meeting with Chris. " But I liked him immediately. At the time I didnt understand the depth of his knowledge, or what a treasure I had found right here. " His knowledge includes proficiency in all ways of the Samurai, including Hapkido, swordsmanship, archery, horseback riding, swimming and - most importantly for his students - turning the body into a ready-made weapon. " I dont ever have to worry about being defenseless, " Jennifer says. " Im my best defense, and thats what Hapkido teaches you. " " What I provide to the women is realism, " Chris says. " I provide them with the ability to feel safe. " That means using whatever is available for self-defense, from your hands to your shoelaces, to get away from an attacker. According to Jennifer, just going to the first lesson is a step in the right direction. " We (students of Samurai) are a one hit, one kill martial art, " she says. " When you learn it, you carry yourself with a confidence - you dont allow yourself to get in a position to get attacked. You learn self-confidence, self-discipline and self-protection. " Chris knows how intensive his training is, but hopes that instead of shying away from the challenge, more women choose to empower themselves with knowledge of self-protection. " People sense that and they dont want to mess with a woman whos like that, who has that kind of confidence level, " he says. " The world is becoming very volatile. Its out there - its down the street, its next door. " Jennifer agrees, citing how many women who are just made to feel uncomfortable by a man, much less raped or attacked. " We want our children to get a good education, so we send them to school, " she says. " But we tell them all the time how dangerous the world is, and we dont equip them the skills to deal with it. " Chris Garland's Excutive Martial Arts 850 Hillwood Plaza, Suite 8A 615-356-3131 Hapkido, Karate, kickboxing which is right for you? With so many martial arts places to choose from, its good to know which one you want before you sign up for a class. Many places will let you come in or sign up for a single session, so shop around to make sure you have a good rapport with the instructor and that the type of instruction meets your goals. There are lots of reasons why people sign up for martial arts classes. Decide why you want to train, and finding a studio will become much easier. To help you on your quest, here are descriptions of four martial art forms and their benefits, courtesy of tkdtutor.com: Self-defense: The purpose is to resolve a violent situation. The technique is for high-risk situations that must be resolved immediately. Self-discipline: The most commercial schools, such as Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Kung-Fu, and so on. The greatest benefits are found in these styles, such as exercise, self-confidence and mental-focus. These styles are also very social. Spiritual: These develop inner peace, and include Tai Chi. These techniques do not teach self-defense. Sport: Tournament fighting requires dedication and intensive practice. Entire martial art styles are dedicated to sport, such as the sport version of Taekwondo.