Since it was founded in 1983, Tiger-Rock Martial Arts has developed into one of the largest martial arts franchises with over 150 academies nationwide. Officially opening at the beginning of February, Tiger-Rock has yet again grown this franchise to include a new facility located just off of Alice’s Road in Waukee. This new addition marks only the second academy to be opened in the state of Iowa.

“We are a nationwide franchise with academies primarily in the South. We only have eight right now in the Midwest area,” Waukee Tiger-Rock Martial Arts Academy Director Nathan Wood said.

However, it wasn’t until Wood relocated to the Sioux City area that he would become involved with the martial arts academy.

“I was living in Sioux City and found Tiger-Rock there. I started training with them and became an instructor. I expressed interest in becoming a full time instructor myself and a few months later they approached me and said they were thinking of Des Moines,” Wood said.

To become an instructor, Wood first had to earn at minimum a green belt. He then had to go through a training course and shadow period where he assisted a certified instructor on the floor. Once he successfully completed the training, Wood then took a written test that would allow him to become certified for one year, after which the instructors need to annually maintain the certification by completing seminars or retaking the written test.

“We are kind of our own thing at this point. Our roots are in Taekwondo but as Tiger-Rock matured, they have developed other techniques and we are a blended martial arts,” Wood said.

In addition, throughout each testing cycle, the martial arts academy hosts a seminar for their honor and leadership team. This team is made up of youth and junior students who stand out in their training and are given red jackets to wear.

“It’s a way for the younger kids to develop those honor and leadership skills to prepare them for instructors or for whatever is going on in their life,” Wood said.

Wood emphasized that Tiger-Rock teaches at all levels of their Rise Story. This is a 15 step belt rank program where participants partner martial arts levels with different life long goals such as to commit, to practice, and to ultimately transform.

“We believe in training both as martial artists and citizens,” Wood said, “Each time we have someone promoted to a new rank, they have a wrist belt with that word on it so they are reminded of it.”

Tiger-Rock instructors hope that by going through this training, students will have transformed themselves for the better and will in turn go out to the community and help transform the community into a better place.

“We instill upon our students to make the world a better place at all levels; city, state, country, world, and universe. This is something we do as an organization. We get involved in charitable organizations and schools and try to make the community a better place,” Wood said.

The Waukee Tiger-Rock Martial Arts currently offers four class levels; Tiger Cubs for ages 4-5 year olds, Juniors Class for ages 6-11 year olds, Youth for ages 12-15 year olds and Adult for ages 16 and older.

Coming up, Tiger-Rock plans to partner with the newly opened Krave Gym by volunteering to help Habitat for Humanity. The martial arts studio also hopes to someday be able to pair with Special Olympics in order to allow athletes to participate in an upcoming class.

“We reach out to the community and find ways to give skills of our own selves for the betterment of all,” Wood said.