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Katy England Katy England
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Project Martial You

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BANGOR Martial Arts have a long tradition of building self-esteem, discipline, and fitness in children and adults. Shawn Hill has taught martial arts at the Bangor Y for 10 years, and for the past several years has seen the program dwindle due to misconceptions and lack of visibility, something he thinks is a shame and a disservice to the community.

'We want to help kids before they develop later in life, give them confidence,' said Hill. 'It hasn't been in the public eye. It's been overshadowed by mixed martial arts. Some people view [martial arts as a whole] as violent.'

Hill noted that in the early '90s, many people opened what he referred to as 'McDojos,' which didn't have quality teachers and may not have adhered to the tenets of true martial arts.

The dream of Martial You is to create a martial arts center that allows youth from all economic backgrounds to reap the benefits of martial arts. The center would bring together teachers from various schools of martial arts, including Karate, Kung-Fu, Taekwondo, Brazilian Ju-jitsu and more. They also would house classes for women's self-defense programs as well as pure fitness programs. With the prevalence of bullying and the startling statistics of assaults on women, Hill finds it troubling that many people are unable to stay in their self defense programs.

'Martial You is a non-profit organization that I founded in 2011 to help keep MA accessible to the broadest range of people,' said Hill in one of his promotional videos. 'We do this by creating a volunteer community to help organize, run and teach martial arts through various programs that we design.'

Hill said that this approach would help reduce membership fees, which can often be prohibitively expensive, especially for families. Martial You is attempting to raise money to help make this a reality and also secure a new building where all these different disciplines can exist under one roof. One of the ways they are attempting to fundraise is by using a type of viral media called crowd-sourcing, where they post their cause on the internet (in this case indigogo.com) and ask for supporters to pledge money to reach their goal.

'This is new to us. We're used to normal fundraisers. We're primarily trying to figure out the right angle. It's been a learning experience,' said Hill. He said that they would also be pursuing the traditional methods of fundraiser, including seeking grants and holding bake sales to raise money. The goal of the fundraising drive is two-fold: One is to help cover the costs of new equipment and make the fees affordable for families of all economic circles. Then they are also looking to raise money to eventually purchase a building that would be remodeled into a new martial arts center.

The building would be renovated utilizing various innovative 'Green' technologies that would be environmentally friendly.

Additionally, Hill said that Martial You wants to start an independent scholarship that would allow students to attend a martial arts school in their area.

For more information about Martial You and how you can help, visit www.martialyou.com or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/martialyou.

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