The MSAP Promotion Exam was more than a test – it was a team-building event for all who participated.

Mt. Shasta Martial Arts Program founder and radiologist Dr. Peter Holt attended a Promotion Exam recently and gave students a short speech afterward.

Holt founded the program in 2001 and now makes his home in Ashland, Ore. He stated that he and MSAP current executive director and head instructor Chuck Buhs have a long martial arts history and have taught together since 1982. “Chuck is one of the highest ranking Americans in Taekwondo,” Holt said. “This town is lucky to have him.”

Buhs holds several high level martial arts degrees, including a first degree in iaido Japanese swordsmanship, a first degree in karate, a third degree in yongmudo, and a seventh degree in taekwondo.Yongmudo and taekwondo are Korean martial arts, both of which Holt and Buhs trained in under Dr. Min at UC Berkeley, where they grew up together. Buhs said that, as undergrads, Peter ran the clubs’ programs while he rant the tournaments. “This is a part of our life ... It's like breathing,” said Buhs. “I breathe martial arts.”

The MSAP Promotion Exam was more than a test – it was a team-building event for all who participated. It was an all-ages event. Of the students who were doing exams that night, four of them were Castle Rock Elementary students, and one of the adults was Castle Rock Elementary School faculty member, Frank Cortese, who teaches fourth and fifth grade. When the Promotion Exam was completed, Holt demonstrated various possible real life situations in which self defense might be warranted. These dramatic demonstrations were expertly enacted by Eli Jones and Jesse Angelini.

Holt told the students that there are always four options from which to choose when facing a potentially dangerous situation. “The best thing is not to be there (in that bad situation) in the first place,” he said. First, “Running is always the better option. ... Yelling, sing your voice is the next option. And fighting is always a last resort.” Holt concluded, “Fighting is for people who are too dumb to talk their way out of a fight.”

Passionate about bringing martial arts to the Mt. Shasta community, Buhs elaborated on the long-range benefits of martial arts training for students. He explained that students are learning physical, mental, and emotional skills. “That training helps them make good decisions and take right actions.,” he said. “It’s about learning how to interact with each other, learning how to use our voices ... It’s not about strength; it's about applied strength.” Yongmudo, Buhs said, is about having a flexibility of response. So, it could be said that Buhs applied yongmudo principles when he exercised a flexibility of response when he set up the nonprofit Mt. Shasta Martial Arts Program with an all volunteer staff.

That program, which is now 18-years old, was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2008. “We’re trying to provide a service of a quality martial arts system in a modern facility, with an intelligent, progressive curriculum,” Buhs said. Demonstrating “a flexibility in response” to making a living, when not busy teaching martial arts or running MSAP, Buhs works as a freelance website business consultant.

Jesse Angelini, another MSAP volunteer instructor, works at the Fifth Season in Mt. Shasta, where he is the manager. Having moved to Mt. Shasta from Santa Cruz four years ago, Angelini teaches Taekwondo at Castle Rock Elementary School’s after-school enrichment program. “I definitely like how taekwondo helped me, because it gave me a lot of structure,” he said, adding that he likes bringing that to his students.

Castle Rock superintendent/principal Autumn Funk, said the school’s program serves all ages, kindergarten through eighth grade, with 23 students training under Angelini on a weekly basis.