Carson City student receives martial arts academy from owner

Maddox Sweet, 14, center, coaches brothers Sergio Herrera, left, and Jonathan Herrera, two of his instructors. All three will be providing classes at No Limits Martial Arts Academy for students ages 3 years and older.

Maddox Sweet, 14, center, coaches brothers Sergio Herrera, left, and Jonathan Herrera, two of his instructors. All three will be providing classes at No Limits Martial Arts Academy for students ages 3 years and older.
No Limits Martial Arts owner Shawn Goodner has announced he is retiring and is giving ownership of his Carson City academy No Limits Martial arts to Carson High School student Maddox Sweet, 14, who already has earned his black belt. His mother will maintain the business license until he is of age. Here, Maddox and his instructors demonstrate their skills.

Black belt Maddox Sweet, 14, helped purple belt Julian Romero, 10, with his punches and kicks last week. The repetitive exercises were essential for both to make sure they’re developing self-defense techniques and focusing on strategies for attack only if necessary.

Maddox Sweet already has demonstrated his expertise in the martial arts and held this ranking for more than a year. Now, the Carson High School student has been given the No Limits Martial Arts Academy by retiring owner Shawn Goodner, and the young man is taking up the business with the help of his mother, Brenda Sweet, who is also a full-time real estate agent, in the studio’s location at 444 E. William St., suite 1.

Maddox, who’s starting at Carson High this year, has plans to grow the establishment “real big” with the help of his assistants who “show their worth.”

“I became an instructor here by teaching kids and all,” Maddox said. “I was one of the best and (Goodner) trusted me very sincerely. He was finally done with the place and said, ‘Do you want this?’ I love this place. It’s an amazing place. It’s done so much in my life, and I wanted to give that back to everyone.”

The studio currently serves about 60 active members ranging in skill levels and age. Members come from all over the region to take classes training anyone from as young as 3 to 66 years of age.

Brothers Jonathan and Sergio Herrera, instructors with black belts who will continue with Maddox, said the academy’s atmosphere is positive for students of all ages.

“Everybody’s so kind and respectful,” Sergio Herrera said. “You can use that in everyday life and be disciplined in everything. The important thing to me is just to keep this place running. This place made me a very strong person. Before I wasn’t a very strong person. … Now I do the best I can.”

Jonathan Herrera said he enjoys helping younger kids and improving their skills.

“It’s a good place to be,” he said. “What’s important to me about having these skills is knowing I can protect myself in certain situations and having the confidence that I know I have these skills.”

Goodner plans to leave the country but will return every few months to see Maddox and his instructors are doing well. Previous instructor Beau Stevens, who once focused on leading classes for teens and adults, also taught Maddox and recently committed to helping again.

Goodner said it takes about six to seven years of intense training to earn one’s black belt, followed by a two-hour, nonstop test with a 40-minute anaerobic fitness regiment that must be cleared. The entire test is about building life skills and character development, he said.

The ceremony of receiving the black belt is inspirational, completed in candlelight, he said. They are given symbolic items, such as a bar of soap as a reminder to keep their mind and body clean, tasked with planting a tree to remind themselves to take care of themselves and others, and they are provided with a rock that signifies who they are, Goodner said.

“It’s all about celebrating their achievements and … giving light to others and being their light,” he said. “I was their light. Now it’s time for them to be a light to someone else.”

Instead of closing up the shop, Goodner felt Maddox had earned the right to obtain the business, saying he wanted someone to preserve the legacy he established for families interested in learning the martial arts in Carson City.

Goodner said he’s seen Maddox evolve into a true instructor in time. Maddox constantly has asked about what he can do to meet others’ concerns or issues they have during classes.

“He was always creating his own opportunities by searching out how to become better in every aspect of what it takes to become a martial arts instructor as far as physical technique and as far as character development,” Goodner said.

Maddox said initially his grandmother “made me do it in the first place,” but after spending time getting into shape, the activity became fun.

“You need to learn things in life about the future and who to hang out with and not to hang out with,” he said. “You need to defend yourself. It’s not just fighting. It’s more stuff about yourself and to express yourself more. I’ve lost many things. I’ve spent about 10 hours a day here. I’ve spent time doing this.”

Recently, families came in with their children to take classes and commented on how eager they were to see Maddox and the Herrera brothers succeed.

Christopher Franklin, whose girlfriend’s grandson, 6, has been attending classes for almost three years, said he was “psyched” to see the academy continue.

“It’s the best thing for this kid to have them spend time here learning these skills, having fun,” Franklin said. “It’s a joy for me to be here, too, to watch these little guys focus and one of the most entertaining things.”

Justin Wass of Dayton, whose son, 11, has been training with No Limits for five years, calling the Herreras upstanding citizens and is a close family friend of the Sweets. He recalled an incident in which Maddox acted with maturity without having to use his physical training.

“Somebody was being mistreated and he was able to stop that without any violence, but with his confidence and his respect for others,” Wass said. “They’re good human beings and they don’t tolerate anybody being mean to anybody and they do that without having to use these skills. They have them if they need them, but most of the time they have the confidence and presence to show that without having to use them.”

Goodner said he’s been proud to see the young students like Maddox he’s trained throughout the years grow up through No Limits to go on to greater things and hopes Maddox will reciprocate.

“It’s the most incredibly rewarding thing when you see someone starting off as a young kid,” Goodner said. “I’ve always thought of kids as a huge block of granite pulled out of the ground. If you work on it and hone it and polish it, it can become a masterpiece, and it’s up to us as adults to give them the resources and to be there by their side in their journey every day.”

For information about No Limits Martial Arts, visit


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