When asked about his new martial arts studio, mustachioed lawyer-slash-instructor Jon M. Yaple spread his arms and theatrically boomed, "I have a dream!"
Yaple is ringing in the New Year by formalizing his kenpo and jujitsu class in downtown Carson City. A lifelong martial artist, Yaple said he started giving the class five or six months ago after talking to a student of a dance studio to which Yaple rented space.
That student, 62-year-old Larry Soga, was also a lifelong martial artist, Yaple said, and the class started because they were talking about kenpo and Soga wanted to learn more. After a few sessions together, "people just started showing up," Yaple said, with current sessions fluctuating at about a dozen students, mostly men.
"The place is just now starting to become a class," he said.
It's Yaple's second go at a dojo, the first starting in 2002 and running for a couple of years before folding. But it is something he wanted to give another go at since.
"I would drive down Main Street and look at all the box stores and say, 'Perfect place for a dojo, perfect place for a dojo,'" Yaple said.
And about 21 months ago, he found a "cinderblock shell" at 315 N. Carson St. that was perfect. He was originally going to purchase it for use as a law office for himself and some other lawyers for a joint office.
But, as market conditions made the building more affordable and his partners dropped out of the plan, Yaple had a revelation: "The only way I could do my dreams was by myself."
In the months since, Yaple has undergone surgery, and the floor space has been renovated to be easier on people's knees. He also dug through his attic for floormats and acquired other gear necessary for larger classes.
He said it is adults-only and jokes that his studio's specialty, American Kenpo, was designed for "old people."
"When I turned about 48 years old, I realized I couldn't keep doing jujitsu. It was just too brutal," Yaple said. "The reason I picked (kenpo) is because I wanted something to do into my 70s."
The martial art is based on what Yaple calls "elemental" body movements and timing patterns: Practitioners analyze their punches and kicks to minimize the movement required and maximize their speed. From there, it's trying to maximize the force from the blows. Because the movements are all so basic, Yaple said, he doesn't need to think about what to do next - his moves are all interconnected and able to be repeated endlessly.
He demonstrated with machine-gun speed against a dummy, with his blows keeping a drum-like beat the entire time. But, it wasn't really that fast, Yaple pointed out.
"You see some 20-year-old doing this and you go, 'Holy cow,'" Yaple said. "They're twice as fast as I am."