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Women discover their hidden power through Bad-Ass Moms program

By: Laura O?Brien Granite Bay View Correspondent
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It all started when she was dropping off her daughter for taekwondo lessons. Carol Cooper, 48, realized that she, too, could enjoy the martial arts by taking the Bad-Ass Moms (BAM) program at The Studio Martial Arts and Fitness in Granite Bay. ?I saw these neat ladies punching and kicking, and I thought, ?Wow,?? she said. ?It?s not just studying the martial arts but learning the women?s self defense and master coaching that kept me coming back every week, because it was out of my comfort zone.? Now, two years later, Cooper is preparing to test for her black belt in October. Cooper?s never-imagined martial arts journey was made possible through instruction and life coaching from Master Amitis Pourarian, the female owner of the studio. Also known as ?Master P,? Pourarian is a sixth-degree black belt and the highest ranking woman in the United World Taekwondo Association (UWTA), which is based in Roseville. In addition to taekwondo lessons for children and adults, the studio offers a range of fitness classes. Pourarian said she started BAM ? a taekwondo program for all women, including non-moms ? when she realized women in her cardio kickboxing class had the skill and mentality for taekwondo. ?I kind of dubbed them ?bad-ass moms? and I built the taekwondo program around it,? she said. Unlike other taekwondo classes, BAM incorporates ?nitty gritty self defense? and mentoring, she added. A one-hour class includes practicing a set of forms, or a series of punches and kicks associated with each level in taekwondo, which is represented by a different colored belt. Students mock spar in pairs. Later in the class they don pads for the chest, head, hands and feet and engage in contact sparring. ?It?s their hour,? said Pourarian, 35, who does not have children but teaches taekwondo to 300 kids. ?It?s their time to grow. It?s their time to do non-mom things, just give to themselves without feeling selfish.? She said BAM students range in age up to 53 and come to the class with the gamut of athletic experience ? some have not worked out in 15 years, some have just given birth, and some were semi-pro athletes. Older teens also have taken the class with their moms. Brenda Maughan started BAM two months ago. She said her son completed his black belt as a kid. ?It?s very mentally engaging in that you?ve got to be concentrating and focusing all the time,? Maughan said. ?I have a lot of things in my world. I spin plates ? Here I can come and focus on one thing.? Students progress toward their black belts at their own pace. They also may compete in tournaments such as the UWTA spring national tournament held in Rancho Cordova last month. Before completion of the black belt, students must try at least one competition, Pourarian said. On a recent Thursday morning, the padding of bare feet punctuated the quiet as 11 women practiced their forms in traditional martial arts uniforms emblazoned with a high-kicking ponytailed woman on the back. Five different belt levels were represented. More experienced students, such as Cooper, gave feedback to less experienced students on improving their moves. ?Your entire focus and your entire goal is to not get hit,? Pourarian said as her students began the contact sparring portion of the class. ?Movement gives you power. Move if you don?t want to get hit.? She said the students? secondary focus was to get in as many hits as possible. For $159 a month, students may take an unlimited number of classes at the studio. BAM meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well as Monday and Wednesday evenings. Other classes at the studio include body sculpting, ?Butts and Guts,? prenatal yoga, belly dancing and Persian dancing. Some adult classes are offered at the same time as youth classes, so families can complete their workouts at once. As the BAM students finished their class, they chanted the UWTA student oath in unison, concluding, ?I will be a champion of freedom and justice. I will build a more peaceful world.? For BAM students, peace begins deep within themselves, apart from the distractions of everyday life. ---------- The Studio Martial Arts and Fitness Where: 4130 Douglas Blvd., Suite 405, Granite Bay Info: (916) 258-KICK (5425) www.trainatthestudio.com