Life Lessons from a Martial Arts Master

Larry Hoover teaches more than martial arts, he shapes character, integrity and respect in our youth.

For as long as he can remember, Larry Hoover has accepted invitations into classrooms to talk to students about the importance of making good choices.

Larry is a member of “Character Counts” or “Character on Track,” a program created some years back to get into the schools and gives teachers and the staff a few more tools to work with.

“I’ve had five talks this week and I have three scheduled for next week,” Hoover said, “I don’t know how long I’ve been doing this but it’s been since I started martial arts.”

That time spans decades as Larry Hoover, also known as Chief Master Hoover, is believed to be one of seven people in the United States who are eighth degree black belts, and he is the only one who teaches kids the value of making good choices.

“As a business, it doesn’t hurt to get your name out there,” Hoover said, “Let people see that you teach more than martial arts. I firmly believe we leadership and life skills. Life skills are based off of good character. So pillars of good character and we talk about can the kids be trusted? Can they be responsible and show respect and to care?”

It’s Hoover’s message not only in the school classrooms that impact students, it’s his attitude as a teacher of martial arts that also plays a role in getting kids attention.

“So I thought it might be a good idea if he could come to my class.” Pettigrew second grader Zachary Whalen said, “Most of the kids in my class are camo belts, green belts, purple and blue belts. They asked Master Hoover if he could go to their class so I thought it was a good idea if he could come to my class.”

Zach told his mother his idea and she in turn called the school to set up the presentation.

“I go to any classroom that a child wants me to.” Hoover said, “I’ve gone to some kid’s classes five years in a row. The audience may be the same, it may not.”

Hoover explains that repetition, no matter the age of a child or even an adult for that matter, is a good thing.

“If something is worth saying, if it is important, it’s repeated often, so that’s my view.” Hoover said, “My son is 24 and I’m still talking about it.”

While Hoover says he’ll talk to anybody and any age group, he prefers to stay in elementary schools.

“The group that is really open to character in my opinion are the younger ones.” Hoover said, “They are more influential and it seems once they ( kids ) get to a certain point they learn to filter, which is fine because we want to create our kids to be independent and process things and that is their choice.

The average age Chief Master Hoover talks to is typically kindergarten to sixth grade. Hoover makes his way to the classrooms through invitations from the students who ask a parent or teacher to have him come talk to them.

“A lot of times, I don’t even have a student ( from his martial arts classes ) in that classroom that want me to visit.” Hoover said, “I also have teachers that call me year after year after year. That’s one of the best compliments we can get, when an educator says, I want you to come in.”

Hoover teaches the kids to make good choices by thinking before they react. If a classmate, friend or even adult suggests something that doesn’t seem quite right, Hoover tries to influence the kids to make the right choice.

“I tell the kids, picture your mother,” Hoover said, “picture you mom inside your head. What would she think of your choice. If you really feel she’d be okay with it, it’s probably a good choice. If she would be upset by it, it’s not a good choice.”

It takes a village to raise a child and this is just one way Larry Hoover is giving back to Sioux Falls.

“I look at their eyes, I look at their body expression and I just trust that they will take one piece and apply it.” Hoover said, “If just one child does it, then that is the best hour I invested in today.”

Chief Master Larry Hoover can be found at Hoover’s Martial Arts located at 2101 W. 41st Street in Sioux Falls across from the West Mall 7 theaters or by calling 605-332-1778




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