OUR STUDENTS

Tommy H.

"From the first class, I knew that I would stay training at Union..."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

When I moved to North Carolina almost two years ago I started calling different schools to see what they offer. Some schools didn’t pick up the phone or contact me back, other schools just didn’t sound too motivating. But Coach Nolan here at Union picked up the call and had a chat with me and made me feel welcomed before even meeting. From the first class I knew I would stay training at Union because the encouragement from the coaches was positive while the space was clean and has an open feng shui that feels right for a martial arts school.

My first class was about a year ago. In that time my journey has been nothing less than fruitful. I’ve learned more than I realize. It’s only when I’m rolling or sparring that I realize I now know how to deal with certain attacks or defenses that I once was completely clueless on. My cardio is through the roof in comparison to a year ago and I have found a new sense of belonging as a Kickboxing competitor since the coaches have supported me and really believe in my potential in the sport as much as I do. In this short time I have had two kickboxing competitions that have taught me loads about my physical, emotional and spiritual abilities as well as my strengths and weaknesses as a kickboxer and martial artist and I’m excited to gain more experience and knowledge along the way.

Dan "37"
Son: Roman "5"

"I am stronger, leaner, and faster than I have ever been..."

The simple answer is that physical training is obviously essential for the physical and mental health of both adults and children. It develops strength, endurance, and a very useful lifelong skill of self-defense. Great.

The more complicated answer is that in the environment where I grew up, one’s physical strength and fighting skills would often determine their place in all kinds of hierarchies—social, sports, school, or whatever. The knowledge that you are physically and mentally stronger than the rest builds the type of confidence that plays a defining role during challenging times and difficult decisions later in life. I wish I had been stronger and more confident when I was younger, but that’s what I’m catching up on now. Obviously, I wish only the best for my son, who will now never be a victim of bullying and has the confidence and character of a person much older than he is. That’s why we train.

Another cool benefit is that Roman and I, despite being different ages, sizes, and skill levels, face similar challenges and chase similar goals when in the gym. We have yet one more thing in common—bonding and all. That’s good to have.

Oh, almost forgot: what’s never discussed as a benefit of training in a martial art, particularly sparring, is that it is a phenomenal stress relief therapy. I’m a much more mellow person now that I have a bag to punch or a sparring partner to choke. It feels great and is cheaper than seeing a shrink.

The simple answer is that physical training is obviously essential for the physical and mental health of both adults and children. It develops strength, endurance, and a very useful lifelong skill of self-defense. Great.

The more complicated answer is that in the environment where I grew up, one’s physical strength and fighting skills would often determine their place in all kinds of hierarchies—social, sports, school, or whatever. The knowledge that you are physically and mentally stronger than the rest builds the type of confidence that plays a defining role during challenging times and difficult decisions later in life. I wish I had been stronger and more confident when I was younger, but that’s what I’m catching up on now. Obviously, I wish only the best for my son, who will now never be a victim of bullying and has the confidence and character of a person much older than he is. That’s why we train.

Another cool benefit is that Roman and I, despite being different ages, sizes, and skill levels, face similar challenges and chase similar goals when in the gym. We have yet one more thing in common—bonding and all. That’s good to have.

Oh, almost forgot: what’s never discussed as a benefit of training in a martial art, particularly sparring, is that it is a phenomenal stress relief therapy. I’m a much more mellow person now that I have a bag to punch or a sparring partner to choke. It feels great and is cheaper than seeing a shrink.

Okay, here is the wisdom, guys—whenever you choose a gym, go for the one that’s closest to your home. The closer it is, the more chances you will come often, skip less, and still have time to do other things. No matter how cool the gym is, if it takes you 40 minutes to get there, you will probably start finding excuses not to go there in a couple of months. So, the ultimate advice is that you need to move as close to Union Martial Arts as possible to get the best results. I live 2 minutes away, for example. 7 if I walk.

The journey is ongoing. I have made new friends, with whom I fight all the time. I am stronger, leaner, and faster than I have ever been. I have competed with varying results. I have zero desire to ever go to a regular gym to lift weights. What’s the point of that? It’s been a year since I joined, and every time it’s time for me to go train, I’m as excited about it as I was on the very first day.

Tatiana
Sons: Alex 6 & Gregory 16

"After the first call, I knew I was at the right place..."

When my youngest son turned 6 years old, he started to show some interest in martial arts. He was at that age when we needed to introduce him to some kind of sports/exercise routine in his journey. My oldest son, 16, had his mind set that he wanted to do boxing. Union Martial Arts happened to be just around the corner from where I live and I was driving past the sign every day telling myself I need to call the place. 

When my youngest son turned 6 years old, he started to show some interest in martial arts. He was at that age when we needed to introduce him to some kind of sports/exercise routine in his journey. My oldest son, 16, had his mind set that he wanted to do boxing. Union Martial Arts happened to be just around the corner from where I live and I was driving past the sign every day telling myself I need to call the place. 

After the first call, I knew that I was at the right place.

Both of my kids gained a lot of self confidence, discipline and showing off great skills on the mat.

My very first time training at Union Martial Arts was at a very special time. Around Valentine’s Day Coach Nolan arranged a “Couples Class-special event training” class and I went in with my husband. After that class my life changed.

I started working out consistently and changed my diet and the results didn’t wait to long to show, I lost quite a few pounds as well. 24lbs lost so far! Coach Nolan always finds the right words to encourage you to keep going. Day by day, class by class I started to like this type of sport. Motivation, dedication, consistency, and self-confidence are what matters on the mat at Union Martial Arts.

Phil T.

"...there is a real sense of community amongst the students."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

I started training because I have always been interested in fitness, however, going to the gym became mundane. Martial arts presented an interesting, diverse and challenging workout with the added benefits of learning true self defense, stress management and camaraderie.

I chose Union Martial Arts because, being new to the area and having a martial arts background, I researched several of the local schools in the area with specific ideas of exactly what I was looking for in a martial arts school. When I discovered the Union Martial Arts website, I found the curriculum and the classes appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. This was soon confirmed after beginning a trial program. Coach Nolan and Coach Kon are amazing coaches and extremely knowledgeable instructors and there is a real sense of community amongst the students.

My journey from beginning at Union Martial Arts to now is, I am more confident in my my martial arts training under the guidance of the coaches and my fitness level has definitely improved.

Josh P.

"I'm having the most fun training at a gym that I've had in many years...."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

I had been out of jiu jitsu for at least a year after moving to Indian Trail. I had tried out a few gyms around, but I don’t like the way most gyms train. There is too much fussing over the minutiae of techniques, and repeating idealistic movements in sequence over and over.

I found Union Martial Arts’ Facebook page a few months after it first opened, started talking to Coach Nolan, and found out he’s striving toward a different way of training centered around exploring through live play.

I tried a few classes. Coach Nolan and I share a passion for coaching and training methodology. I liked how Coach did not have long, silly warmups and didn’t spend the entire class drilling tons of moves. Instead, we practiced a couple techniques, and then got lots of opportunities to experiment with and explore through rolling and positional games.

I’m having the most fun training at a gym that I’ve had in many, many years. Coach Nolan’s session design continues to improve rapidly and training feels more like playing with friends — yet the improvements to my jiu jitsu skills are big.

Evgeny (37) ,
Children: Anastasiia (7) & Vladimir (5)

"More strength, more endurance, more fun with every new class...."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

Once we heard there is martial art for kids nearby, we decided to let our children try something new as they were (and are) way too active. They already had some activities like art and pottery, and a swimming pool at that time, but still a lot of energy. After trial class they liked the action and atmosphere provided by this type of activity. Several months later, I joined my children to serve as an example and an additional incentive for them, and I like it too.

Word of mouth. Facebook group of Russian-speaking community. Eternal question where to enroll children, and several people replied pointing us to Union Martial arts. Now we recommend it as well to our friends. A lot of people come to the area, and many of them have children and the same eternal question.

I, my elder daughter and younger son – we all like the classes. For them it is one more place to have fun, connect with friends, build confidence and learn discipline. For me it is a great opportunity to wrap my day with sport activity. I take it pretty seriously and try my best. No distractions while in the class, no worries, no job related thoughts, and this is amazing. More strength, more endurance, more fun with every new class.

Kade M.

"...they accepted us to join a new family environment..."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

The reason for us joining in the program was for multiple reasons. We are Homeschooling our 2 sons. We wanted to get him into a program that would allow him to interact with other young individuals and more mature to acclimate. We had a 5-year-old boy that was basically trapped in the house during all the team sport restrictions with Covid and needed an outlet that would let him learn control, motor skills and be an outlet for bottled-up energy. He is bright and has a lot of energy and we needed to allow him a way to use that in a way to be able to focus and control how he reacted, which would later prepare him in becoming a mature man. We wanted to find a way for him to compete with camaraderie while having people push him to the next level while he could stair-step his achievements, teaching him that hard work is rewarded.

We found the Union Martial Arts studio through an internet search of the local area. Once we realized that they accepted young students we wanted to give it a try. We sent a message and very quickly received a response. They walked us through the steps of a free beginner’s class that was available for us to attend. This was greatly appreciated. However, the biggest reason for us to continue coming was the initial visit. When we walked in, we were greeted at the door, walked through the start-up process, and logged in, signing up, and filling out very little paperwork. Then our son was fitted for gloves; laid out what we needed and didn’t have to do. After all of that, both coaches took time to converse with our 5 yr. old and talk directly to him. They asked him his name directly and treated him like that of a confident young boy, building his responsibility from the start. They also took time to give him a heads-up on the basics so that he felt more comfortable as he lined up into something he had never been involved with. We were also introduced to Coach Nolan’s Wife, who was there with their 2 sons, and it felt like they were accepting us (not having a clue what we were doing) to join into a new family environment.

The full journey of our time at Union Martial Arts is excellent in a nutshell. There have been ups and downs, personally, in the training from learning new techniques, eye focus, mouth focus, ear focus, and learning to work and train with others depending on how they act on a given day. We have learned so much as a family.

We have adapted at home to help in the training by getting heavy bags so that dad and little brother could practice. There were times when the combinations were coordinated with the left side to the right side. This allowed us to become stronger and help all the family see who could do it better and created a fun rivalry. We all had a huge celebration when we advanced to a higher belt. I say we because even though it is only our oldest son taking the class it feels like the family has all grown. He has advanced now into advanced kick boxing for kids and is more into Jiu Jitsu. This has become a challenge that we are looking forward to completing. Mom and Dad video the techniques demonstrated in class so that we can take it home and as a family we can start learning and getting more efficient at it. He likes practicing on mom’s throw pillows in the living room floor. The whole family has zero experience with this form of martial arts, so we are learning together. We are excited to progress onto the next belt with each class. Also, we have been looking into doing the upcoming competition and we are planning to start training 3 days a week rather than just 2 days. The interaction with fellow competitors/training partners and the parents on the bench watching has been fun to watch and support each other’s growth in their individual maturity as youth. We wouldn’t change our decision at all and look forward to the new challenges that are placed in front of us. Our youngest son (3 years old now) is already asking when he can start. He has been watching intently on the side of the mat while the big kids are training in class. It has been the greatest pleasure to get to know Coach Nolan and Coach Kon.

Logan S.

"everyone is friendly and equally eager to learn, improve, teach...."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

I joined to get in better shape and live a healthier lifestyle. I ended up bettering my diet and sleeping habits after starting. I also plan on traveling and would like to train at a Muay Thai gym abroad so I wanted to gain some experience and get into better shape for that.

When I called, Union was the most personable and transparent about class schedules/process/pricing out of any of the gyms I contacted in the area. I appreciated the trial class as well since it allowed me to get a feel for what the classes would be like before fully committing.

It was definitely pretty rough starting out (especially regarding cardio fitness)– I had been pretty sedentary since COVID. Over time I have gone from having to take breaks between rounds in the beginner class to doing all 3 classes some days with limited/no breaks. I actually enjoy doing the work as well (which I’ve never really experienced with running/swimming/etc.). I saw measurable improvement pretty quickly too. 

The intermediate/advanced class and jiu jitsu are a lot of fun and very rewarding as well. I started out not really knowing what to do and just tried to “survive” during free rolls/sparring and now I can occasionally get submissions and I don’t get hit as much.  The people at the gym are great too— everyone is super friendly and equally eager to learn/improve/teach.

Fedora, Jose, Lucia

"Watching our daughter inspired my husband as well...."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

We enrolled our daughter in the academy to instill self-defense skills and discipline. We wanted her to try something new.

I found Union Martial Arts online while searching for a martial arts academy. Coach Nolan’s detailed explanation of the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing, during a phone call after my initial interest, convinced me that it was the right place for us.

Our journey from the start has been truly amazing. Watching our daughter excel in martial arts and personal growth inspired my husband and me to jump in as well. Union Martial Arts has become like a second family to us, and we can’t express enough gratitude for the incredible coaches guiding us through this rewarding experience.

Austin S.

"After finding Union Martial Arts, I have regained my competitive nature...."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

For the majority of my life I was a competitive swimmer. Once I was out of college and started working full time, I lost that sense of competition and purpose with my fitness. After finding Union Martial Arts, I have regained that sense of purpose and my competitive nature.
After being referred to Union Martial Arts through a friend, I was embraced by this feeling of being a part of a “team.” In other words, the coaches and fellow members genuinely encourage your growth as an athlete and motivate you to push beyond the limits you have set for yourself.
ven in only 3 months of training, I have been shocked by how much I’ve improved both in my form and conditioning but also my mental health. My confidence has grown to a level where I was even able to compete in a tournament where I was able to apply the skills I’ve learned with the people I’ve learned with. Not only was I able to win events but also regain that feeling of competition and purpose with health and fitness.

Vlad Bandarchyk

"Martial Arts is a tool that helps people become the best version of themselves...."

My training started as a child being introduced to martial arts in the form of Shotokan Karate as both my parents were practitioners. Since then have been on and off in various forms like Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and now most recently Kickboxing at Union Martial Arts. So as of recently I just wanted to start training because I always feel the need to stay healthy by using martial arts as a form of exercise. I also wanted to find coaches that would feel comfortable helping me train to compete in any capacity and take it as far as possible. But primarily I choose to train so that I’m always as prepared as possible to self defend or protect my family and others around me.

After highscool basketball ended with no offers from college, I lost my sense of direction mentally and spiritually. Starting martial arts training helped me back on the right path, and was a positive outlet for negative emotions that I was holding on to from life experiences.
I began training with Coach Nolan at his school in Brooklyn, NY. After he relocated to North Carolina I bounced around other martial arts schools trying to find the right school for me. It was during this time that I realized there was something special about Coach Nolan and his school that other schools were missing. I relocated from Brooklyn, moved out of my parents house for the first time to come train with Coach Nolan. He is genuine and strong willed, but at the same time caring and open to new ideas which from my experience is extremely rare for coaches, in any sport. I remember my first day training at Union like it was yesterday.
Martial Arts is a tool that helps people become the best version of themselves. We all have so much physical, mental, and spiritual potential. If you want to go far into this sport your weak links will be exposed. My goal is to become a professional fighter, and inorder to do so I need to find balance in all three aspects. Training over the years, with the goal of competing, has helped me explore different ideas about what it means to be a complete martial artist. After a knee injury sidelined my progression for 2 years, I was forced to adapt to new ways of thinking and taking care of my body so that I can continue with my training. Coming to train at Union encourages me to train hard but also seek other aspects of life that will help contribute to my martial arts journey.