The Man Who Speaks Martial Arts
From a personal note: Master Atkins is a world-class martial artist, but he is also part of the Action Karate family. My older brother Professor Solomon Brenner co-founded the first Action in Bensalem, PA. in 1994. The next year and a world away, Atkins earned his first black belt in Tang Soo Do. As Action Karate grew and gained students, Atkins became a popular figure on the martial arts circuit. He traveled around the country giving seminars on martial arts and leadership in between competitions.
One of his stops was Action Karate.
At the end of the visit, Brenner told Atkins that if he ever wanted to settle into a full-time job teaching karate, there was a place for him here. Atkins never forgot that offer. Teaching full-time was always his ultimate goal. Three years after that visit, out of the blue, Atkins called Mr. Brenner and asked for that teaching opportunity. Atkins has been part of Action ever since. Everything happened so quickly, Master Atkins moved into a spare bedroom in his home when he first started.
His junior and senior demo teams at Action Huntingdon Valley have been extremely successful and included our youngest sibling, Daniel, who helps teach tricks at Action Mt. Airy over the summer. During the pandemic, Atkins taught a creative class for 100 Action students. He is a teacher’s teacher, and invented several of the katas taught in class: Striking Tonfa, Creative 1, Action Nunchucka Kata, among others.
I am incredibly excited to have him meeting with our students in-person on April 10. Good thing we have a high ceiling.
The Man Who Speaks Martial Arts
By Rochelle Brenner
If martial arts was a language, Anthony Atkins would be fluent.
If it was a dance, he would be able to tango with salsa, cha cha with hip hop and ballet through the ballroom.
If it was a food, he would know the recipe to chop, mix and stir things up.
A master of martial arts, he has advanced black belts in Tang Soo Do, Chinese American Kenpo, Shotokan, Tae Kwan Do and ITF Tae Kwan Do.
“My attitude is being open to a new style and see how they’re doing it, never looking like ‘that’s not the way I do it.’
Let me learn it this way because it can help my style and help me as a person,” he said. “You've go
t to be open. If you’re not open to learning, then your mind is closed off.”
His creative inspiration comes from his interests outside of martial arts, and he encourages his students to find their own path.
He loves bigger-than-life characters in pro wrestling. Over-the-top video games like Streetflighter. The comic book Naruto. Cooking.
“Those are things that are part of me, are part of my martial arts life. I’m always trying to use that to be creative. It can be from basketball or cooking. I ask my students what else do you do? You like soccer, can you draw that into karate? A dancer? Choreography, that’s what a kata is.”
He speaks a little of Hebrew, Ukranian, Russian, French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Spanish with Alabama as his first language, Crimson Tide as the dialect and karate as his last word.
He never stops going forward. Always looking to learn more to become a better martial artist.
He has won four individual world championships in creative katas and 3 synchronized championships.
Atkins is a lifelong martial artist. He moved in with his aunt and uncle at age 15 to be closer to his karate trainer. When he started competing in bigger and bigger tournaments, he quickly became a force. Inspired by Ken and Ryu on Streetfighter, Atkins invented a signature ax kick aerial into a split that was part of his gravity-defying tournament presence on the world’s stage. He overheard an opponent storm off with second place and say, “Who is
this kid Anthony Atkins?!?!”
As much as he succeeded in competition and accepted a few offers in Hollywood, he always wanted to keep learning and sharing what he learned.
“I always consider myself a white belt. I always consider myself a student,” he said.
“One of my favorite things to say is ‘shcho novoho.’ That’s ‘What’s new? in Ukranian,” he said.
“Karate is all about knowledge. Your belt means nothing if you don’t have the knowledge.
I want to gain this knowledge and give it to my students because it helped me with my confidence. That’s how I'm going to help build their confidence. We as karate instructors, we want our students and leaders to be confident.”
It could be the adult student kicking knee high who later kicked head-high. It could be the shy kid leading in class. Or the natural athlete who encourages classmates. The uncoordinated kid who went on to lead the demo team. A ragtag bunch of kids that became a team.
“Confidence is this thing you can’t taste, can’t eat it, can’t grab it. You can only show it. I want them to sho
w that confidence when they get a move,” he said.
You could also do all of this if you put your mind to it and worked hard. But remember it will not come easy.
“You practice the way you want to compete,” he said.
So, shcho novoho? He’s sharing his knowledge with us at Action Mt. Airy. In person, for the first time.
“We have to see almost like a crystal ball in our students' future before they see it and help them get to that light. That’s the coolest thing,” he said.
I can’t take this with me when I go to glory. I want to give it out and I want my students to share it.”