On November 14 Lincoln Academy’s martial arts teacher John Jenkins was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame at the 28th Annual Global Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The award is sponsored by the Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association.
Jenkins is a martial arts teacher who currently lives in Rockland and teaches martial arts and self defense at Lincoln Academy, as well as other locations.
Before moving to Rockland, Jenkins served as mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn, and as a Maine State Senator. He has also been a wellness and safety consultant for CBS News, and has served on the Board of several organizations, including the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Black Belt Hall of Fame will honor Mr. Jenkins’ 50 years of martial arts experience and service of teaching with a Golden Anniversary Award. Jenkins began studying Karate-Do as an elementary school student in Newark, New Jersey, and credits the discipline of martial arts for his success today. “Along with scouting, martial arts literally saved my life. Both provided a positive activity that fostered discipline. Being in an organized activity prevented me from being on a street-corner where a few friends were killed as a result of gang violence.”
Mr. Jenkins left Newark for Maine in 1970 to attend Bates College, and has lived here for the 45 years since. “I came to Maine for an education, but stayed because of the people, opportunity, and quality of life.” Jenkins now promotes Maine as a wellness destination for “International Martial Arts instructors who may wish to come to Maine to vacation and share their expertise through a summer camp experience.”
Jenkins has pioneered his own “Tai-Chi-Therapy Experience-Jenkins Technique™,” which is a combination of principles found in meditative relaxation, yoga, tai-chi, and brain/body research. He sees martial arts as a path to wellness as well as self-defense, and it is his pioneering teaching methods that are partly responsible for his selection for the Hall of Fame. “The International Black Belt Hall of Fame is comprised of many cultures, languages and styles,” said Jenkins after his weekend in Pittsburgh, “but is it one family, in the true spirit of Martial Arts, based on mutual respect and personal development. It has been a joy to listen, learn, and make many new friends.”
According to their website, the Black Belt Hall of Fame recognizes all ages of participants, styles of martial arts, and rank. To be considered to this honor, inductees go through an extensive nomination and invitation process. Jenkins said the award supports the work he has already been doing, and affirms the importance of the life he has chosen: teaching, training, and service through martial arts. “I started my training for what it would do for me, personally. Receiving this award from international peers is a recognition of what I have been able to do for others in promoting personal and professional development through our tailored training.”
At Lincoln Academy, Mr. Jenkins is currently teaching SAFE Plan™ Self Defense for Women, and he has already made a big impression on his students since he began teaching in September. “Mr. Jenkins really understands how to work with us,” said Lincoln Academy sophomore Sammy Aho, who is a member of the Self Defense for Women class. “He is helping us understand what could happen in a situation, and teach us to be prepared for that.”
It is clear from observing in Mr. Jenkins’ classes that he understands how to work with teenagers. He pushes them to test their physical limits, and brings the discipline of many years of martial arts to his teaching, yet also establishes a rapport with students and makes each class fun.
The Lincoln Wellness Department hopes to expand its martial arts offerings with Jenkins’ help, eventually offering classes both during and after school to Lincoln Academy students, staff, and the community at large. “As a Wellness Department, we feel that what John has to offer, is a set of essential skills one needs during the course of life,” said Lincoln Academy Wellness Department Chair Radek Janik. “The proposed Martial Arts curriculum addresses and expects students to demonstrate responsible behavior, academic commitment in all classes, self respect and respect for others, leadership skills, community service and service to others. In our departmental mission statement we emphasize one of the objectives and that is: ‘to have course selections that will help generate success in learning lifelong skills, which then promote good choices, physical fitness and overall well being.’ I feel that in today’s competitive world, we need to develop the best possible Wellness program, that will prepare our future graduates for the challenges that lie ahead of them.”
Jenkins’ dream is simple: “Wouldn’t it be great for students to graduate with a Lincoln Academy diploma in one hand, and a Black Belt in the other?” This dream could certainly become a reality. For a man recently inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, no dream is out of reach.
Look for more information on future Lincoln Academy Martial Arts opportunities in the coming months.