Roger Hurd has been in Tennessee for just over a year, and in Loudon County for a little less than that. Now, he's hoping to return to his passion - teaching martial arts.
"I miss it and I keep talking about it," Hurd said.
Hurd began his career in martial arts in 1973 following a stint with the Marines. He advanced to black belt in 18 months and opened his first studio in 1978.
"I've started studios before and sold them, which was a mistake," he said. "What I should have done is hired my students as managers, assistant managers and assistant instructors and kept the studios."
The peak of Hurd's professional career on the World Karate Association's full contact circuit came in 1986. Ranked No. 8 at the time in the light heavyweight division, Hurd defeated Steve Mackey to earn the United States Light Heavyweight Championship.
"I fought some of the best martial artists in the world," he said. "I fought seven world champions and won a United States championship myself."
Hurd moved to Tennessee in 2012 to be closer to his two daughters and grandchildren. He currently works as a correctional officer in Morgan County, but hopes to establish a studio in Loudon County.
To start that journey, Hurd is hoping to begin classes at the National Guard Armory, 2325 Old Highway 95 in Lenoir City.
Classes will be for ages 7 and up, but Hurd said it won't be a "kid's game."
"The media has actually ruined martial arts in the United States," he said. "They've got people looking at it like it's a kids game when it's really not."
Both kick-boxing and karate classes will be offered, but what Hurd really focuses on is developing the individual.
"There's four character-building assets that we have," Hurd said. "It's integrity, dignity, pride and honor. Integrity is what other people think of you, dignity is what you think of yourself, pride is how you look back on your past successes and not your failures — we have too many people who want to remind us of our own failures. We have to learn how to take them and push them off to the side, emotionally and mentally.
"Honor, that's your morals and your ethics," he said. "I get mine from Jesus Christ.
"My students make belt rank, not by how great they throw the front kick, the side kick or the round-house kick," he said. "My students make rank by character, by how the lower-ranking students look at that higher-ranking student. Is that higher-ranking student a leader? Is that lower-ranking student looking up to them, going to them for answers?"
Hurd hopes to begin classes in September. For more information, contact him directly at 317-524-9058.Former
martial arts champ starting classes