BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – The Pruitt Martial Arts and Fitness Club is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a community rally in Ocean Springs.
The academy was established in 1996 by founder Derek Pruitt. His business venture started 25 years ago, but his passion for martial arts began long before that.
“I had a bad experience and always wanted to do martial arts.” said Pruitt. “My mother gave me the opportunity to meet a very good instructor, Dr. Rodney Fisher, and I started training and the rest is history.”
Over the years, the school has faced challenges such as closure due to the pandemic.
“We actually closed like everyone else. We went to teach martial arts online. It was really different, but we survived,” Pruitt said.
The academy currently has around 150 students in weekly training. Andres Sarao joined the team in 2020. He is now nine years old.
“My friend Reese started doing karate and my dad said, ‘Hey Andres, do you want to do karate?’ I said OK,” Sarao said.
Kendall Pittman, 10, said martial arts helped her gain confidence and learn self-defense.
“Before, I was scared to fight somebody, so I ran away, and for me, it was actually pretty tough,” Pittman said.
Pruitt said the journey to turn his passion into a business was nothing short of amazing.
“It’s a blessing. Frankly. I give thanks to the Lord. Without him, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s great to be able to do something you love to do and have an impact on other people. I’m just touched by the experience,” Pruitt said.
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