Resourceful – SRQIST :: SRQ Magazine article by Ariel Chates

With multiple black belts to her name, Lavonne Martin gives new meaning to the term “girl power” by teaching students of all ages how to protect themselves on and off the studio mat.

“I was a small town girl in Illinois with two young children, looking for some exercise. And then, suddenly, I was a black belt in two different arts,” recalls Lavonne Martin. As a woman in her twenties in 1977, Martin was on the older side of those entering the world of martial arts. But, immediately taken by the sport, she quickly threw her plans to become a psychiatrist out the window, packed up her life and headed to Los Angeles to train with Sifu Dan Inosanto, a living progressive martial arts legend with an academy in Marina Del Rey, California.


Now a certified guro herself (one of the few women in the world to be a full Filipino martial arts instructor), she has been sharing her four decades of expertise in her Sarasota studio for 15 years. “My name is on the front door so I can do whatever I want here,” jokes Martin. After years of working his way to the top of the male-dominated sport, Martin has certainly earned the right to make the decisions. She is thoughtful and straightforward in her approach, which includes interviewing any potential student. “Anyone who comes here, I tell them, ‘Listen, if you don’t like a woman telling you what to do, then this isn’t the place for you,'” Martin says. “I want every woman, man and child to feel safe here to grow and change. This studio is a laboratory for experimenting, a place where you have to find what works for you.

Photograph by Wyatt Kostygan


A personalized and varied lesson plan is the basis of Martin’s teachings because she appreciates the differences in all students. “I’ve had people come in here with one arm, or part of their body couldn’t move, or one hand had no feeling, but we changed things around to give them that power back and say, ‘Yeah. , I can do this,” says Martin. Martin teaches his students to know their surroundings and to trust their instincts – important, real-world lessons. “My teaching is street-based. You don’t want to train one way and then get in trouble on the street,” says Martin. “Nobody is going to throw a pair of boxing gloves at you there. I want my students to learn to adapt. SRQ

Photograph by Wyatt Kostygan.


Martin Academy of Martial Arts, 6341 Porter Rd., #5, Sarasota. 941-342-9944.

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