Focus on Black-owned businesses: Growing Twinsburg karate school looks to rebuild after COVID-19

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Reggie Brown, left, the owner and sensei of the Twinsburg Karate Institute, works with student Carter Roesel, 8, on learning the basics of bo kata.

TWINSBURG – One man’s regular lunchtime workouts at the Twinsburg Fitness Center led to his second career as a karate instructor.

Sensei Reggie Brown, who lives in Hiram, started his working life fighting chemical spills and other environmental hazards for the the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency office in Twinsburg, where he worked for 31 years. Brown said this was not his intended career choice.

“I was at Dennison University, where I studied biology and chemistry,” Brown said. “I was actually studying to be a veterinarian. I was planning to go to Ohio State, but I didn’t have the money or the resources.”

The EPA came to Dennison, looking for summer help. Dennison applied and was accepted – and wound up staying on.

“After the summer, I was asked to work in their emergency response,” Brown said. “That was a really interesting job. It was Hazmat before there was a Hazmat.”

While working for the EPA in Twinsburg, Brown started going to the Twinsburg Fitness Center, which opened in 2000, during his lunch breaks. He said his gym bag had “karate” on it. One day, he said, he was approached by a manager, who asked him if he could teach karate. Brown, a third-degree black belt who had taken karate since 1986, said that “no, I’m not teaching, but I could.”

“For the first year, I had two students,” Brown said of his first classes at the Twinsburg Fitness Center. “They came twice a week religiously. Then 10 more joined, so I had 12 children.”

By 2008, he had about 40 students and needed a bigger space, Brown said. He rented a space in a building across from Wilcox Primary School from 2008 to 2019. Eventually, he had to find another space, and he found another, larger place on Pinnacle Parkway. Brown, along with two other instructors, started teaching at the new space.

“We moved in October [2019,]” Brown said. “The quarantines started in March. I admit, I first panicked. I lost two-thirds of my students. The landlord gave me a break on rent. Now, I’m trying to get my students back, and hoping for life to get back to some sort of normal.”

According to information from the Twinsburg Karate Institute, the school teaches  traditional Kajukenpo Karate, which has ”a strong focus on kicking and striking, but is heavily influenced by judo and jujitsu, throwing and joint locking techniques.” TKI offers classes for students age 4 to adults.

The Twinsburg Karate Institute is at 2272 Pinnacle Parkway, near Brown’s former employer, the EPA in Twinsburg. For details, call 330-963-3069, or visit twinsburgki.com online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com

Reggie Brown is the owner and sensei of the Twinsburg Karate Institute.
Reggie Brown, the owner and sensei of the Twinsburg Karate Institute, works with a class. The institute has classes for children and adults.

At a glance

Name: The Twinsburg Karate Institute

Owners: Sensei Reggie Brown

Description: Offers classes on martial arts for ages 4 through adult

Established: 2000

Address:   2272 Pinnacle Pkwy., Twinsburg

Phone number: 330- 963-3069

Website: https://www.twinsburgki.com

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 4:30-8:30 p.m., and Saturday: 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

About the series

Throughout the month of February, the Beacon Journal is profiling Black-owned businesses in Summit County. Read more of these profiles at https://bit.ly/3jb0h1e. The Beacon Journal will continue to highlight minority-owned businesses as part of its ongoing regular coverage.

Have a suggestion for a business to feature? Email us at bjnews@thebeaconjournal.com.