Bruce Jones has been the martial arts instructor at the base Youth Center since 1996; under his instruction, Master Sgt. Matthew Bruce, NCOIC of Cyber Systems, Air Force Institute of Technology, has trained in taekwondo, along with his wife Natalie and their children, earning three black belts and one blue belt during a four-year period.
Jones, who has a black belt in both tang soo do and taekwondo, offers self-defense classes on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m., and Thursday, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Youth Center. The class was originally for the base youth, but because the parents faithfully accompanied their children and stayed throughout, Jones opened the door for them to take the class together.
“The Bruce family has been with me for [more than] four years,” said Jones. “I made it possible for them to test together and help each other through the process.”
Jones explained that the testing to earn a higher belt lasts about three hours and consists of physical, mental and academic challenges.
“My husband, myself and my 11-year-old daughter, Madyson, are all black belts,” said Natalie Bruce. “My husband is a second-degree black belt; Madyson and I are first-degree black belts; my 9-year-old daughter, Meredyth, is a blue belt; and my 6-year-old daughter, Melody, is a yellow belt.”
Master Sgt. Bruce explained that martial arts have significantly helped his family.
“We were given the opportunity to not only exercise our body and mind,” he said, “but [we have] been able to become something bigger than ourselves. Earning black belts was a huge accomplishment for us, [because] it’s taking what you learned and applying it to your life to make things better for you and those around you.”
In addition to being a successful martial arts expert, Madyson is also a talented violinist. Bruce said her daughter chose to play violin when she was in fifth grade.
“I’m fully convinced that her love for the violin grew once Jones introduced her to his violin teacher,” said Mrs. Bruce. “She started taking private lessons, and her love for the violin is something she is very passionate about.”
Madyson plans to continue excelling in her martial arts and music throughout her school years and beyond.
The family also has a 2-year-old son, Maddox, whom they adopted shortly after his birth. He has not yet started learning martial arts; however, his mom hopes that he will also want to earn a black belt.
For more information about self-defense classes at the Youth Center, call 937-255-5053.