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7Everyday Heroes: Two Lone Tree martial arts instructors instill character with a kick

Students learn life skills and gain lifelong friendships
Posted at 10:21 AM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-13 12:21:28-05

LONE TREE, Colo. — At Tiger Rock Martial Arts of Lone Tree, there is a "can do" attitude and instructors Chris Johnson and Clint Asay are leading the fight.

"Repeat after me: It’s always easier to pull people down than it is to lift them up," owner and instructor Clint Asay told a group of students. "But we take that challenge to lift our teammates up. We know that that’s harder! How do we lift? We cheer, we high five, we motivate!"

"One of our goals is that we’re trying to create humble, hungry, happy warriors for life," Asay said.

These warriors are students of the Douglas County Bridge Program, which teaches 18- to 21-year-old people with developmental and physical disabilities transitional skills to lead more independent lives.

"These guys embraced all of our students, they make them feel powerful, they make them feel confident and they give them an opportunity to do something that they probably wouldn’t be able to do," said Zanna Broussard, a registered behavior technician for the Douglas County Transition Bridge Program.

Each week, Clint and Chris give their time to teach martial arts, discipline and exercise to the special group of students. It turns out, the skills they teach in class are just a small part of the lesson.

"For us, it’s an opportunity to work with this group and give them some of the tools that make them feel stronger and more confident and happy with their life," Asay said.

The dojo has become the students' home away from home, using workouts to build lifelong bonds.

"They’re entirely special because they’re kind of like my second family for me personally here," said 19-year-old Matthew Campbell.

Coaches Clint and Chris have learned some pretty big lessons, too.

"I’ve learned to be a better person, not only an instructor but just a better man in general," Chris Johnson said.

"That light that’s in their eyes, that just radiates and you can’t help but absorb some of that into your own life and realize what’s really important to you," Asay added.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.