Editor’s note: this is one story in a series about local businesses in the City of Fairborn. This feature puts a face to the names of those that have been part of the community for many years — some of those best-kept secrets.
FAIRBORN — TNT Midwest Martial Arts Academy Inc. is a family business that allows husband and wife Tony and Tami Dewitt to work together as a team. She is responsible for office work, while he teaches the art of self defense.
“I got into it at 12 years old and just fell in love with it,” Tony said in regards to martial arts. “My training started from 12 to 18 years at a studio in Springfield and was I was discovered by a guy named Ernie Reyes. He was in the movies like Turtles 1, 2, Red Sonja, a movie with the Rock, so I got attached to west coast martial arts in the early 90s and stayed with them until I got my masters under Reyes about 20 yrs.”
Upon doing so, he trained under Frank Cucci, a Seal Team Six, for 11 years.
“He taught me my sticks and hand to hand, basic self defense,” Tony said, “It was Pedro Sauer who taught me the jitsu, which is how I earned my purple belt.”
TNT Martial Arts offers a total defense system, which offers practical defenses on the street. Tony said the business is not a cage fighting school, as he feels that it’s important to teach discipline and respect and wishes the students will have good citizenship and attitudes, and be able to give back to the community, which he feels is essential.
Once per year, TNT Martial Arts offers a class called “Ohio Connection Kids,” which reaches out to roughly 15 to 20 individuals with autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities. He additionally offers a “Bully Busters” class, which not only helps those being bullied, but the bullies themselves as they learn what causes them to go after the weaker people.
TNT Martial Arts additionally offers a women’s self defense class for free during a special time of year; interested women should call and for more information.
Tony’s mission statement is to “empower and impact people through martial arts training to get people to reach their goals.”
“We get a lot of people with problems and we try to get them to leave their problems by channeling them into positive training and learning respect,” he said. “There is no negativity, bullying or teasing in our school, we are not about being a bully.”
TNT Martial Arts offers a “little dragons” for 4-to-6 year old’s; a juniors class for 7-to-14 year old’s and adult classes for those 15 and elder.
Classes are mixed, and Tony feels that this is important as, “a women is not going to attack a women usually, so to mix the class the ladies get to practice with more real life issues as males are paired up as attackers.”
Receiving a white belt takes about two months of practice; earning additional belts takes a longer time to train. Earning a black belt, for example, can take about four years. Classes are given in the evenings, and starting in January 2016 he will have classes for adults only Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon due to the high demand for lessons. TNT Martial Arts includes more than 100 students and four instructors.
“People are often afraid to come in because of what they see on TV shows,” Tony said. “We have a private room with a private instructor for a student and their family members to try it out so no one sees you and you can learn what they are teaching. Its like a pair of shoes — you need to try it on and make sure you like it and we fit, we are not the school for everybody and we know that.”
Students can try out up to two classes before being asked to make a decision.
“I have a saying that anyone in town that wants to take Martial Arts will be able to take it here no matter what your financial background is,” Tony said. “I teach from my heart that I am training because I really want people to have self defense.”
The business has been included as part of the Fairborn community for more than 27 years, and is facing an expansion in 2018 due to the demand for classes.
“I am a hillbilly, love Fairborn and it’s down home friendliness,” Tony said. “Its been good to me and I will stay,”
Reach Tony and Tami at 937-878-8733 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Costs vary depending on individual classes and uniforms are supplied as part of the fees.
“We don’t want the money to keep people from coming in,” Tony said. “We want to teach as many that want to be taught.”
JoAnn Collins is a long-time resident of Fairborn and guest writer for the Fairborn Daily Herald.