When COVID-19 forced the closure of nearly all indoor activities, including sports, Nicholas Schafer and his wife, Bre, co-owners of Schafer’s Martial Arts, moved their workout to the parking lot outside their studio on Redwood Way.
The outdoor classes proved to be so popular that senior teacher Nicholas Schafer continued the outdoor classes after the indoor facilities reopened.
Despite the pandemic and the changes it necessitated, it has been a special year for Schafer’s martial arts. Not only have the students and instructors at Studio Petaluma won numerous medals at recent American Taekwondo Association World Championships, the studio has been selected as the School of the Year by the National Association.
“It’s special,” said Nicholas Schafer. “There are over 600 schools across the country and the Masters Council selected us as School of the Year. We feel very honored.
Schafer said he believed the selection of the Petaluma School was the result of its excellent staff and its response to the pandemic.
“We realized it couldn’t be business as usual,” he said. “There were pretty strict guidelines and there were a lot of challenges, but whenever an obstacle came up, we pivoted and made it work.”
Schafer said the school started offering classes through ZOOM, “and our business has gone down by a ton.”
As a result, he made a key pivot.
“We started teaching outside in our parking lot and the students loved it,” he said.
The younger ones liked it so much that although the studio is now open, some classes for the younger ones still take place outside.
At the world championships held in Phoenix, Schafer’s martial arts added to his reputation with several individual medals. Schafer, Kaylee Baum, Carmeron Hadiputa, Cole Jayme, Raphael Anasco and Ben Thomas competed in the AAA Tournament of Champions.
Schafer was second in form and third in arms; Baum placed third in forms; Hadiputra was second for shapes and weapons, while Jayme was first for shapes and weapons and third for extreme shapes and weapons.
It’s an impressive list in the ATA World Championship competition, but not unusual for Schafer Martial Arts which has been teaching and training people of all ages since opening in Petaluma, South County in 2001.
Schafer and his staff now have over 300 children in the program, as well as adults of all athletic abilities. The members of the group are aged from 4 and a half to over 60 years old.
The studio now works with nine elementary schools to offer after-school programs.
“When you come to a taekwondo class, you feel like there is nothing wrong. Everyone has a smile on their face, ”Schafer said.
For him, martial arts are more than fitness and self-defense, it is about teaching life skills like a positive mental attitude, high goal setting, persistence, self-control and self-confidence.
“It’s a really fun way to work on character development,” he said.
Schafer’s parents enrolled him in a martial arts class when he was 12, and he’s made it a passion and a profession for the past 26 years. He is now a 7th degree black belt in taekwondo.
He also made it his life’s work.
“I never had any other job,” he said.
He opened Schafer’s ATA Martial Arts at Rohnert Park Community Center in 2001, added a small club in Petaluma in 2016, and then combined the two in what he calls his “dream school” on Redwood Way.
In addition to Schafer, the studio has two main instructors supplemented by special guest instructors and a team of nine.
Bre Schafer, a former teacher with a Masters in Education, takes care of the business and detail aspect.
“She is the genius behind our success,” said Nicholas Schafer.