Archive 2008 - 2019

Cormier’s Self Defense Academy Celebrates 30 Years

by Jennifer A. Batog

In the early 1980s, Jim Cormier and his wife Claire took a six week self-defense course because Cormier had always wanted to try martial arts. While his wife opted not to continue, Cormier was hooked. Fast forward to this fall as Cormier’s Self Defense Academy is celebrating three decades of teaching men, women, and children the art of defending themselves.

The academy teaches three Japanese martial arts: Okinawan Goju ryu Karate, Hakko Denshin Ryu Jujutsu and Yoshitsune Jujitsu. Earlier this fall, Rep. Carolyn Dykema, whose son David earned his karate black belt under Cormier, honored the Holliston dojo with a proclamation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives commemorating its 30-year milestone.

While working full time in the marketing/public relations business, Cormier opened his own dojo in September 1987 after teaching part-time for his Sensei while continuing to study martial arts and achieve advanced black belt ranking. Cormier said he never dreamed of opening his own dojo until his Sensei, Grandmaster Larry Garron, told him he was ready.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” Cormier said. “Once I got into it, I fell in love with running a dojo. Thirty years later, I still love coming to work every day.”

The dojo started out in Holliston’s VFW hall, and, after several moves, has for the past 5 years called 1600 square feet of training area at 53 Jeffrey Ave. home. Cormier considers the dojo a family. He knows every student and their parents by name, an attitude which has kept the dojo in business through several different locations and countless students.  Over the years, he has promoted hundreds of black belts.

Cormier and his students plan to celebrate Cormier's Self Defense Academy's 30th anniversary doing what they love to do - martial arts. A number of his students will soon compete in the World Martial Arts Federation tournament Nov. 5 in Danvers.

Cormier continues to train and study along with his students and recently received his Purple Belt (Shihan - 6th Degree Master Belt) promotion in Hakko Denshin Ryu Jujutsu. He is also a 7th Degree Black Belt (Shihan - Master) in a system of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate as well as a 4th Degree Black Belt in Yoshitsune Jujitsu.

Cormier's students, especially the children and teenagers, learn more than karate and jujitsu.

Cormier's philosophy is that his students must earn what they receive - an attitude Cormier said makes him somewhat unique among some other dojos. That's one difference he's noticed in today's students compared with those of the last three decades. There's been a shift where students want instant gratification. For example, some dojos may present their students with their uniforms before even taking the first karate class. Cormier doesn’t believe in that. His students earn their uniforms by attendance and practice of basic material. “It helps build a stronger character and sends the message that “the journey is always more important than the achievement,” Cormier said.

“Teaching more than martial arts is one of the attributes which sets Cormier's dojo apart and contributes to its longevity”, said Carolyn Scott, of Hopkinton. Her son Gavin, 9, has been studying karate there for three years. He's become more assertive and confident as well as a junior black belt.

"It's just been awesome for Gavin. He's grown and developed there," Scott said. Cormier "can identify what kids need to develop. He knows how to address each kid as individuals. He wants them to succeed."

For Cormier, 69, making a difference in his students’ lives and watching them develop their martial arts skills is what’s kept he and the dojo going over the long haul.

“Every day I get to see kids and adults doing things they never thought they could do before and doing it well,” Cormier said. “When I decided to go full-time, I knew I was going to do this for the rest of my life. I look back 30 years later and see the many accomplishments that have happened and I’m as happy as I could be.”