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Martial arts in Multnomah Village

Ernie Reyes' West Coast Martial Arts, Portland


by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - Students of Ernie Reyes' with their instructors.

Want a place for your child to do mixed martial arts? Look no further than Multnomah Village, home to Ernie Reyes’ West Coast Martial Arts, Portland.

Husband and wife Zach and Emily Dunn of Raleigh Hills opened their school in February 2012 after offering classes in the gymnasium space at the Multnomah Arts Center for three years.

“We liked the location; liked the look ... the design and things like that: open, big space,” Zach Dunn explained. “And also, nothing else in the village proper ... would facilitate that kind of thing.”

Luckily, this space did.by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - Zach and Emily Dunn, co-owners of Ernie Reyes'.

“We love the neighborhood and really wanted to be here. When we were looking for spaces, we drove around and didn’t even know this was down here — it wasn’t for lease — but we thought, like, ‘Wouldn’t it be really cool? That’s a great space’,” he recalled. “A few months later it came up for lease, and we decided to go for it.”

By their description, the school has been very popular so far, the couple’s teaching style distinct from that of others in the area. “We place more of an emphasis on character development and

overall manners and respect and social skills,” Zach Dunn said. Indeed, children running into the open garage-style space before class all stop and bow prior to stepping on to the mat, and wait their turn before speaking with reverent conscientiousness.

What’s more, “We have a mixed curriculum — teach a lot of

different martial arts together — not necessarily (just) taekwondo,” said Emily Dunn.

Her husband agreed. “It’s a pretty dynamic curriculum,” he said.

The school is a franchise of the Ernie Reyes’ West Coast Martial Arts association, named for Ernie Reyes, the association’s founder and, by all accounts, one of the world’s preeminent martial arts masters.

“He’s not just a figurehead,” said Zach Dunn. “He’s very involved.”

“He holds himself to a really high standard,” Emily Dunn said.

Like Ernie Reyes himself, “Our program is designed to create quality character in people both in martial arts and in life, and we really place a high importance on being physical fit as part of our program, so there’s a lot of exercise that’s part of it,” Zach Dunn explained.

This emphasis on character development, Zach Dunn said, is particularly applicable to the neighborhood that houses his school.

“We really love the (Southwest) community,” he said. “Part of the reason why we feel like character development is so important ... in our students is because we know that developing quality students with good character is going to influence how the community is perceived.”

“And,” his added Emily Dunn, “Our classes are just a lot of fun too.”

“We’re fun,” Zach Dunn agreed. “We love people.”