SEYMOUR-SOUTHBURY — Bushi Ban CT, Klarides Village Dr., Seymour, and 1257 Southford Rd., Southbury, offers instruction in the martial arts with a life skills focus. Sensei John Lombardo, regional director, told Voices that the school does not take a sports approach, although some students do elect to compete. “We offer self-confidence and self-discipline and show how those values can apply to schoolwork, family life and professional jobs,” he said. “Bushi Ban creates better citizens through the martial arts.”

For him, his role as director for both schools is a passion. “I have a day job to pay the bills. I do this out of love of martial arts and helping people. It may sound like a cliché, but I believe in the greater good and giving back.”

Sensei Lombardo found the system years ago when he was looking for a way to introduce martial arts to his son.

“I’ve always been involved in the martial arts and, after 37 years of marriage, my wife has just started training. This kind of study becomes a family thing.”

He described Bushi Ban as a system that began almost 35 years ago when the founder designed a way to present information to children in daycare.

“We teach students as young as 4 years old through adulthood. In fact, one of the senior masters is in his 80s. 

“This is a system that can be done by anyone, but it’s unique because of its founding.

“Since the system started with youth and a simple approach, it grows with you as you go through your cycles. The system matures with you.”

According to Sensei Lombardo, many approaches to martial arts begin with an adult approach and work toward younger students.

Since he took over leadership of the schools a few years ago, Sensei Lombardo’s goal has been to ensure that the message and mission of the school continues in both Seymour and Southbury.

To that end, Bushi Ban is very involved in community events, most notably Seymour Goes Pink, which raises funds and awareness for breast cancer every October.

“For the past five years, we’ve participated in the 5K and wear pink belts. This is probably the most non-business business in the area. We keep the lights on but we’re not about making money, but making a difference.”

Instructors also continue to teach in a mix of true martial arts traditions and student input.

“We’re open to the goals of our students. One of the first things we do is interview the parent of the child who wants to come here or the adult who wants to learn and ask, ‘Why are you here?’”

He explained, “Some people need a path toward fitness, but are not gym people and are looking for something different. Sometimes this is the answer to being bullied or a way to find social connections. 

“We’re even recommended as a way to help those on the ADHD spectrum to focus. The goal is unique for everyone.”

He believes all martial arts studies are beneficial, regardless of discipline. “You’d be a better person for it, but we think we offer something different because of our approach.”

The school offers open enrollment all year and students can start any day during any month and continue for as long as they enjoy their school experience.

“It takes about four to five years to achieve a black belt for youth and a little less time for adults. Bushi Ban has a high percentage of student black belt retention, meaning that these students look at achieving that level as a new beginning and build on that. 

“Some people stick around for quite a bit and become junior instructors or class assistants.

“Our staff is home-grown. Everyone here has come through Seymour or Southbury, which are the only two Bushi Ban schools in Connecticut.”

When asked by parents about the teaching style of the school, Sensei Lombardo said, “If I’m not having fun teaching, then I don’t want to be here. I wonder why anyone would want to train here if they weren’t have fun doing it.”

He pointed out that students spend six hours in school and he wants them to release that energy within limits. 

“By the time class is over, they’re worn out and laughing. They’ve learned a new skill and knew when it was time to perform the traditional protocols like bow in and bow out. It’s not a free for all, but we enjoy the class together.”

The school recently traveled with 16 students to the Bushi Ban headquarters in Texas, where they were tested for their black belts.

Dawn Allen of Oxford said both her children study at Bushi Ban. “My daughter just got her black belt and the test itself gave her a sense of what she’s capable of doing.”

Among the 16 students, 15 are part of families that study martial arts and nine of the students are following their siblings in the study.

Ms. Allen said her son was supportive of his sister. “I think the school influences their relationship in a positive way and this is a great community of kids and adults.”

The school is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Special events and private lessons are scheduled on Sunday.

Details on all class offerings, including an early morning kick boxing class, are available by calling 800-868-8859 or visiting www.bushibanct.com.

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