Mel Locke and Frank Coones’ love for martial arts is universal.
The two longtime instructors and friends have shared their passion for this sport with Camas and Washougal residents for the past 14 years. And now, the Universal MMA owners are thrilled to be back at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Camas.
“We’ve always been proud to be a part of this community, so it’s nice to be back in the eyesight of Camas instead of in the back row,” Coones said. “It’s going to be an interesting year. Our classes are already growing at a rapid rate. Now that we are back downtown, it will be interesting to see if we can get bigger.”
The brand new 5,000-square-foot training facility opened to new and returning customers on Aug. 6. Locke said it has twice the floor space as the previous location, which was next to Jett Burger on Second Avenue. It also has two bathrooms with showers instead of just one.
“The inside of the place has a more rustic feel to it, with the wooden floors and the brick walls,” Locke said. “August is usually a soft month for getting new members, but having the new facility and an extended class schedule has helped a lot. The more space we have, the more different types of classes we can offer.”
One of the new classes available is “Universal Combat Conditioning.” It takes place from noon to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Locke said students will hammer out a variety of training exercises nonstop during those 30 minutes. A complete list of classes and definitions are available at www.universaljj.com. Locke teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Coones teaches Moo Yea-Do, Derek Sasaki teaches Kali weapons training and Sascha Pell teaches boxing.
“There are no long term contracts to sign. Customers can train from anywhere between $45 to $95 a month, depending on the classes they take,” Locke said. “It’s all about treating people right, giving them great value and an eclectic variety of classes. We want this to become the place to train in Clark County.”
The feet and fists have been flying in the new facility during the first week. There have been two to three classes going on at the same time. Parents are able to train right alongside their children. It’s fun for the whole family.
“We are passion driven by our instruction. Mel loves teaching Jiu Jitsu and I love teaching the traditional martial arts,” Coones said. “People see that passion we have, and they want to be a part of it. Students who come to this school feel they are part of a family. We never want to lose that.”
The Universal MMA sign is one of the first things motorists see when they come to downtown Camas. Locke is talking with city officials and local artists about an idea to have a historic Camas mural painted on the side of the building that faces Adams Street. He said it would be a great way to give back to the community.
On Saturday, Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Universal MMA will host a grand opening ceremony for the local community. Members will be allowed to tour the facility and watch demonstrations from nearby martial arts academies in Vancouver and Portland, Ore.