It is a world where principles never change, journeys are formed and transformed, and a childless couple has hundreds of offspring.
This world has a special name: dojo, and it is the East Dallas branch of Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense. With classes in Kenpo, Jiu-Jitsu and Karate for children through adults, it is a world that meets needs on several levels.
“I haven’t worked out in years,” Holly Olds, one of the members of the adult fitness class, said.
“But Dr. Chamberlain made me feel right at home. The class is like getting one-on-one instruction without being one-on-one. And it’s not intimidating!”
“Ah! I must be losing my touch!” he joked.
Its owners, Drs. Nick and Kimberly Chamberlain, seek not only to teach the ancient skills and principles of the martial arts, but also to provide good health and well-being and to invest in the community.
That investment was recently on display in the Whole Foods parking lot. They offered a free self-defense clinic to the community in the wake of an abduction that occurred across the street from their studio on Kidwell.
Chamberlain is a ninth degree Black Belt (the absolute highest level one can earn is tenth degree).
He has been teaching karate since he was 18 and for 20 years in Dallas. He was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2010 and has been given a lifetime achievement award for his work in the martial arts.
His other career as a chiropractor began 16 years ago. He specializes in sports and rehabilitation and treats clients in the second floor of the studio.
Chamberlain’s work with children – which comprise 80 percent of his marital arts instruction – keep the parents coming back for more.
“I’m a single mom and was looking for a good male influence for my son,” Gaye Jackson said.
“Dr. Chamberlain is such a great figure for so many children. They respect him. There’s a gentle reserve about him that kids respond to. He’s the type of man I want my son to be around.”
“Yeah, parents tell me if their child is acting up at home, they’ll say, ‘Don’t make me tell sensei!’ which is the Japanese word for ‘teacher,’” he said.
Jackson said other people have seen a change in her son, which she credits to both Nick and Kimberly. When he is not in karate class, he receives treatment from Kimberly, who is also a chiropractor (and chemical engineer) with a specialty in allergies and nutrition.
Chamberlain has developed a character-based program called “3 Steps to a Great Kid” that draws on the values of the martial arts: effort, etiquette, sincerity, character and self-control.
After each class, he discusses topics of character virtues, chores and safety with his students.
“Kids have changed in 30 years. Their attention spans and manners have shortened. We create an environment that reminds kids and parents what’s important,” he said.
Although the dojo itself has only been in Lakewood since September of last year, Chamberlain’s teaching has had tendrils throughout the East Dallas community via after-school programs at St. John’s, Stonewall Jackson, the Ridgewood Recreation Center and several locations in Lake Highlands. He also has a partnership with the DaVinci School.
Within his compact frame, salt and pepper hair and penetrating eyes lies a man of deep discipline, determination and multiple talents.
The only child of British parents, Chamberlain spent part of his youth in England attending school and playing rugby and cricket. His parents moved to the Boston area when he turned 15, where he enrolled in high school but was “bored to tears” because he already knew the material. And no rugby! So he chose karate classes. Three years later he wanted to open his own school.
“My parents did not direct me or tell me what I should do,” he said. “Instead, they were very supportive and gave me great guidance.”
That influence carries through today in Chamberlain’s life. He renovated both his Lakewood studio and his headquarters near Bachman Lake. He makes pottery (including sake sets for students who achieve their black belt) and homemade Italian Limoncello (which is delicious).
He is an expert marksman, archer and licensed EMT. Chess, scuba diving and travel are also on his “favorites” list.
He handles all the programming and marketing for the business in addition to training future teachers. He also holds a BS in Business Administration and one in Human Anatomy.
But teaching is Chamberlain’s greatest passion and skill. Even a read through the student manual that he created reveals an innate sense of how to talk to kids in a way that they understand, but is not condescending or simplistic.
“I like teaching, seeing people realize goals and do things they didn’t think they could,” he said.
“I also enjoy the fact that this is a sport that produces long-term friendships, that you can do it for a lifetime, where you get better as experience and perspective improve. You can’t say that about many other sports.”
For more information on the Chamberlains, visit dallaskenpo.com or physicalmedicine.com.