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Karate classes hosted in Pine River Backus School's new athletic expansion

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An accomplished martial arts instructor has expanded his training to the Pine River-Backus School.

Sixth-degree black belt Rob Nelson of Crosslake offers lessons in Japanese karate, Korean Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nelson hopes to use the new PR-B School facilities to train students in confidence and respect for a more successful future.

Nelson’s lessons focus not only on the physical aspects of martial arts, but also the mental aspects. During lessons he makes students repeat statements like “respect myself” and “respect my parents.”

This is because, to Nelson, martial arts are about making a better person. He credits his own past in martial arts with his own successes, and he has more than a few.

Nelson often thinks, “I got my black belt, I can do that, too.”

Nelson started Tae Kwon Do in 1980, and since then has learned, and mastered, other forms of martial arts as well. He is certified to train people of all ages, as well as people with Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other learning disabilities.

Nelson is also one of a small number of civilians certified as an Army combatant instructor.

“I’m the instructor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I teach all the Army Corps of Engineers throughout the upper Midwest,” he said.

Nelson is also a trainer for the Minnesota DNR and the Baxter Police Department. As for civilians, he is an instructor for Ultimate Martial Arts and Fitness in Crosslake and Baxter. When he isn’t training people in martial arts, Nelson runs a business called Nelson’s Landscape and Lawn Sprinklers.

Since January, Nelson has been offering training in these same disciplines to those in the Pine River area.

“Once karate skills get better you gain more confidence in yourself. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that I sell, is confidence,” Nelson said.

To Nelson, confidence is a big part of learning to deal with difficult situations. Martial arts are commonly being used to prepare young women for going to college, and teaching children how to react to bullying.

“That was the number one reason that I started,” he said. “I was bullied. I think the value of learning how to handle, how to deal with, how to feel that confidence and handle that bullying was a really good thing.”

In addition, Nelson suggests that parents have something to gain from children in a martial arts class. He suggests that martial arts can teach discipline that may lead to better study habits as well as increase in self respect and respect for authorities.

“A lot of these kids have the option to choose the right path or the wrong path. I think the biggest thing is to get them choosing the right path and feeling good about themselves,” he said. “The community benefits, too. if these kids set themselves up to be successful, the community becomes more successful, too.”

Nelson offered classes at PR-B once before, but at the time there were fewer facilities. The class ended up being held in the cafeteria, but did not last. The new athletic additions at PR-B are far more suited to instruction.

Classes meet from 6:30-7:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays for kids and 11 and younger, and 7:15-8 p.m. for ages 12 and older. Classes will be held until the end of the school year and should resume again in September with the start of the new school year. Classes are also available in Crosslake and Baxter.

For more information, contact the Pine River-Backus Community Education office or visit

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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