In a small Quonset hut hidden in a Pacific Beach alley, Greg Fraser has built a dojo that is not only dedicated to the art of self defense, but also provides his clients with a sense of accomplishment.
One of his students (who also happens to be a seasoned black belt) told me, "I've been studying martial arts for 20 years, but it wasn't until I came here that I truly learned how to defend myself."
Fraser has an easy way about himself, but don't let that fool you. His 40 years of martial arts experience has led him to become the grandmaster of Jing Shen Kuoshu, which translates to the Essence and Spirit of the Martial Arts.
Fraser founded Jing Shen Kuoshu in 1992 and has become an expert in adaptive self-defense and close quarters combat. He describes Jing Shen Kuoshu as "a system designed to use timing, rhythm, distance and 'spiral dynamics.'"
That was a lot for me to take in, so I spent a morning watching and listening to Fraser teach and explain his techniques. What I saw was a patient teacher who enjoys empowering his students, imparting some techniques that, even after one lesson, encourage them to come back, wanting to learn more.
He also described a bright spot of his business, which is teaching his adaptive students.
"A student in a wheelchair or with a disability already feels vulnerable. If I can help them feel more secure and teach them some techniques that build self-confidence, that is what it's all about," Fraser said.
Much of the equipment in his gym is for adaptive students to train on and there's also equipment that Fraser makes up on the spot to better suit his students' needs.
Besides taking care of his students, Fraser is starting a business to help other trainers in similar fields. His new project called All Terrain Fitness is designed to help trainers seek out better opportunities than what they are being offered at their "big box" gyms.
Many personal trainers who work for some of the larger gym chains have minimal training and only make a portion of what they charge their clients. Fraser wants to get the best-accredited teachers and trainers together in one place. The website will not only offer the best services for the client, but also ensure that only the trainers who have the proper credentials, certificates and training are featured on the site.
The adage "you get what you pay for" has never been truer than for personal trainers. People like Fraser who have decades invested in their passion-turned-business have gone through every level of training classes imaginable to be outstanding in their field. That kind of training makes the experience for the client better and safer in the long run.
Whether you're looking for a way to shed a few pounds or wanting to learn how to protect yourself from everyday threats, this little gym in Pacific Beach has you covered.
Jing Shen Kuoshu
Address: 1753 Garnet Ave. (between Jewell and Kendall streets in the alley)
Phone: (619) 379-4265
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to email@example.com or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.