The Ageless Martial Arts school in Las Vegas has built a reputation as a challenging yet safe place for students to push themselves to develop important life skills through the medium of Karate. Sensei Lorenzo Sandoval has built the school based on his extensive experience with the craft and mission to share his passion. He discusses the values that Karate can bring to your life and highlights why it is such an important discipline to learn.
Hi Lorenzo, can you start by giving us some background on yourself? How did you become interested in martial arts?
Hello there, that’s actually a great question. I studied martial arts in Las Vegas and I actually became interested in martial arts for a few reasons. One of the main reasons was because my uncle, who was trained by a Japanese Karate Master named Osamu Ozawa in the early to mid-90s, ended up teaching me in his apartment around the year 2000.
I used to watch him as a kid fly and do amazing jump kicks, kicking paper lanterns. He was a very well trained and athletic man. I wanted to be like him. He now works in the medical field for the United States Army. In my early years as a teen I was obsessed, like many others with Anime. I was obsessed with cartoon character like Goku, who is a fictional character from the show Dragon Ball Z. They would show it every week on cartoon network on Toonami.
What made me even more interested was that despite how hard Goku trained in martial arts, he never gave up even if his opponents were tough. He would always get beat up severely and at times his friends would even die, but he still found a way to become stronger through martial arts and become better. He would get stronger every episode and show his true powers through hard work and determination.
The next influence was a Street fighter character named Ryu. Ryu was a serious martial artist testing his skills fighting great fighters around the world and always pushing himself to become the best. Something about developing your self through martial arts I fell in love with. Ken, who is his rival character, is the opposite of Ryu, who has more of a westernized attitude and is more of a risk taker. As Ryu is straight edge and always serious, I always felt I was more like Ken personality wise, but I had Ryu’s background. I realize it sounds silly and it kind of is, but it helped me along my journey as a Sensei.
Can you tell us a little bit more about martial arts and the key philosophies involved?
There are many components to martial arts. Many of which are based on my own personal experiences and influences in my life. I feel like the most important quality is confronting difficult challenges that the martial arts present you with. These challenges can be difficult but they teach you how to work hard for something and attain a goal and help you get better and stronger as you go.
What makes martial arts different philosophy wise is how martial arts teaches a more structured environment. This is because all the moves, exercises and self-defense must be taught in a structured environment. This does not always mean structure is useful for fighting but, as a teacher, for children it helps them learn to use this structure to help them with life skills.
Respect is also earned, this is a common philosophy that is important, once you learn respect you’ll be able to apply it throughout your life and to those around you.
Teamwork is another important philosophy, having a culture and a group of people working towards the same goal and instilling those values into our members and our kids.
Discipline, means to always do your best, teaching my students to do their best in every aspect of their lives so they can improve on themselves and create a successful life for themselves.
There are many other life skills that martial arts focuses on to help them grow into a good black belt.
What made you decide to become an instructor and open your own school?
It was kind of by accident really, I was working odd jobs in my early college years. I bounced between thinking about signing up for the military as an officer or going into the medical field. But I hated the idea of working a normal job and I wanted something more fulfilling. I spent the entirety of my teenage years training literally almost on a daily basis. I spent hours per day learning Karate in Las Vegas and I felt it was in my best interest to do it for a living.
I was an average fighter, honestly, in the competition world. I won some good local tournaments here and there. For a while I wanted to try out for the WKF USA national team. But due to financial and personal strain I decided it was in my better interest to teach and help the Las Vegas community through martial arts instead.
There are many reason why I became and instructor and why I ended up with the school. At first I was doing it as a side job teaching at a rec center. I used to charge only $35 a month and would only receive $20 a month teaching twice a week at the rec center. I remember teaching a little girl by the name of “Little Maria”, well, that’s what I called her. I taught her at the rec center for almost 6 months alone with her and her mother. They were a poor Hispanic family and I could tell they didn’t have a lot, but I didn’t care, I loved that I was getting paid to teach martial arts. This was in 2010.
Around that time, I ended up signing a deal with another martial arts school. We ended up doing really well. But based on a business disagreement and the fact that he wanted more money from me, I decided to split and create my own company.
I started with very humble beginnings and I want to create a school that would have a good following and a good atmosphere. I actually started teaching martial arts at a high school track for almost 3 months before I could open a cheap commercial space in a deserted complex. From there, with nothing but the Gi (Karate Kimono) on my back, I established Ageless Shotokan Karate, later naming it “Ageless Martial Arts”.
Who do you teach? Are your classes only for kids or can adults learn too?
With a name like Ageless I pretty much teach everyone of all ages. I have taught various amounts of ages and different type of people. Everyone is different and the program is different for everyone. We design it based on age and level and make sure they are able to use it in the real world. We relate it based on many factors.
We teach an art called Shotokan Karate. It is a Japanese Martial Art derived by a man named Gichin Funakoshi. He was from Okinawa and founded the style focusing on counter attacks and defenses with wide stances and linear movements. Shotokan Karate is practiced by millions around the world, but like any art it has a variety of influences and ideologies from person to person. It stays the same for the most part, however, when it comes to concepts like Kata. Kata includes various movements that teach you self-defense in a sequence of timed attacks and defenses in different directions. “Kata” literally translate to “Art”. There are slight changes of course, when it comes to minor details or curriculum but we all universally teach the 27-29 Katas in the Shotokan System and also teach many versions of Kihon or “basics”.
For more details about our philosophies for achieving a Black Belt and our curriculum you can go to this link and see the curriculum in written form in detail: https://www.agelesskarate.com/journey-to-black-belt/
What can people expect from your classes? What’s your teaching process like?
We are always welcoming when it comes to potential new members to our Karate school. Our teaching process when it comes to a first-time potential member starts like this.
- We first schedule them an orientation class or intro class for one of our beginner courses in our dojo. The beginner courses teach the values and the mindset that they will need to learn the basics of Karate. This includes basic cultural customs and self-defense. We put them in a structured environment and teach them the value of how it can change their lives while instilling challenges that help them perform. This helps them achieve simple yet effective movements that will aid them in making progress in our art.
- We show them the life skills and striped curriculum. This is normally a 6 striped curriculum and, depending on when they sign up, will determine what stripe they will be learning that day. The stripes can be life skills subjects like, Respect, Focus and Discipline, or just numbers that teach them Karate.
- We teach them the value of respect; discipline and that Karate starts with and ends with respect.
- We begin to teach them self-defense movements and simple tactics that help them begin to develop muscle groups that will build upon that skill. We use a teaching method called “disguised repetition” in which we teach them the same move using different scenarios, drills and situations so they become efficient at it.
- At the end of the class the new member in the class breaks a board. We give them a badge that says “Best Job” and “Family”. Family being the most important part of their lives.
- After 4 months of in the white belt class they go into the following levels, 1,2,3,4,5 (Black Belts).
What makes your school unique?
I know I’m biased when I say this, but we are very unique. I am also a photographer, so the way I design my school aesthetically gives our brand a sleek and unique look. We can express that through our culture and our presence.
But there are a few reasons that make us different to your average martial arts school. Every martial arts school is unique in that they have their own culture and team that helps them become something great.
We are unique because we believe martial arts turns the weak minds into strong minds, we teach you life skills that help you throughout your life. We teach you an ancient Japanese culture that has been forgotten in many martial arts schools.
We are unique in that I come form a long line of Karate lineage as I and the instructors who taught me were champions.
We are unique in that we believe our culture revolves around the phoenix and being reborn to become something greater than yourself.
We are unique in that we are always testing your skills, and we are not afraid to fail you. We are not afraid to teach you the importance of failure. We demand it. We want you to fail so it forces you to try harder and try again and look deep in yourself to earn that rank.
We are unique in that our black belts are well rounded martial artist, both mentally, physically, and emotionally. We want well rounded Black belt candidates who are able to defend themselves in all major avenues in martial arts, not just win a tournament and learn to respect others.
We are unique in that our curriculum is always being challenged and tested to help students be able to apply their self-defense training in situations to make them better than they were yesterday. We feel our self-defense is comprehensive. We cover everything from practical weapons, to movements, to basic grappling, to helping the student have a good general understanding of how to defend themselves.
Our passion for Shotokan Karate is something I love; it is part of everything I have sacrificed. Shotokan Karate is something I have loved my whole life. I want to share that with the Las Vegas community and hopefully the world one day. We stand out in the sense that you cannot put a price on passion and passion is what created this school, so I will put passion in all of my students before I die.
I am a head instructor and Sensei and I am also a professional photographer and artist, we are unique in that we create that atmosphere in our dojo. We are here to create that energy with our school and make you into the black belt you deserve to be.
Can you tell us more about your symbol the ‘A’ of the Phoenix? What does it mean to you?
There are meanings behind this symbol I can’t describe but as I get older I realize there is deeper meaning behind the Phoenix.
The Phoenix is Ageless in a sense that when it dies it is reborn into something stronger. It never dies therefore it’s Ageless. It is forever.
The blue has a different meaning than most martial arts schools, the blue represents the fire that burns within us. The blue in a fire is the hottest part of a flame. It’s the hottest part of change and desire to become something that rises above the ashes into something new.
“We are Ageless, we are strong. Like the phoenix we take flight. We Rise Above. Together, we achieve as one. We are eternal and live forever through our spirit and heart. We are Ageless Martial Arts.”
Why do you think martial arts is such a useful skill to learn in life?
Like every skill you learn, it is unique. I feel martial arts is a great skill to have because it has a few ever-lasting benefits that I have carried on throughout my life.
- My reflexes: Not to be a bragger as I am sure there are a lot of great fighters and other martial artist out there who are better than me, but I am grateful for my speed and my quick reflexes that I have acquired through rigorous amounts of speed training. It has actually come in handy through the years. From simple self defense situations or sports and extracurricular activities. I am also able to learn things easier since learning my art.
- Flexibility: I’m no circus person where my flexibility is crazy but having the ability to kick someone in the head without blinking is pretty cool honestly. I like the fact that I can defend myself accurately with a cool Jean Claude Van Damme kick. Sure I might not be fighting on a daily basis but for my students it is nice for them to see their Sensei move and see I can still move well.
- Confidence: I’m literally not afraid of trying new things and I’ll just go right into to it if I have a desire to learn it. I always do things with a Black Belt mindset. I am relentless in a sense where I give a lot and I ignore naysayers and I listen to my self and what I really want. Martial Arts has taught me to be goal oriented and driven to accomplish difficult tasks.
- Fear: I’m not afraid to defend myself or the people around me if I really have to. I am happy that I trained so hard for bad situations I might have to get away from.
- Martial Arts has taught me about respect and how to help others. It has taught me appreciation for others as well as my family. It taught me to appreciate my mother more who helped support me in building my dojo.
- It has given me the confidence to become a leader in my community and to show those around the world to be great.
- Lastly, it’s an important skill to have because it teaches you to challenge everything you’ve learned and apply your discipline in the hardest situations that you might encounter. As our motto goes, we: Rise Together. Achieve as One.
– Sensei Lorenzo Sandoval
Ageless Martial Arts