I met my wife in 1998. I was living in Newmarket New Hampshire, running a Taekwon-Do school and she lived in Bella Vista Arkansas and worked for the Wal-Mart home office. I met her on Cape Cod while she was doing a photo shoot for the Wal-Mart circular. It was the start of a long term relationship. As it was developing, I took a trip to NW Arkansas in 1999. I noticed that there were no Martial art schools in the area. Then I discovered Bentonville had a club at the fitness center.
Bentonville was rural, but development was starting to pop up. Rogers was small and completely different then today. To do most things, you had to travel to Fayetteville. When I moved to Bella Vista in 2003 I sold my school and thought I wouldn’t be teaching Taekwon-Do anymore, though I still loved to train. I had a few months Hiatus and started training with Randy Edwards of Fayetteville. He was higher rank and had a lot of connections in the area. He encouraged me to open a school in the Bentonville area.
I did my research, but was finding that Bentonville Landlords were not interested and wouldn’t call me back. I went to Centerton and did market research and traffic count. I drove around and saw that it was becoming less rural and better housing was popping up. I was warned to not to open in Centerton because it was so hayseed. But Dale Thompson gave me a chance. He was the owner of the newly constructed BeckN Dale plaza.
He wasn’t overly thrilled, seeing some Yankee running around in what looked like pajama’s teaching Taekwon-Do. But he gave me a low risk chance. He wouldn’t negotiate, but he was opened minded. We have been here ever since. We had many highs and lows, and seen many other business come and go. Today (2019) we still proudly teach students Martial Arts. I very much like the area and I hope I have served it as well as it has served me.
This article was written by Master Jack DeSousa 6th Dan Black Belt in Taekwon-Do. Master DeSousa also has ranking in Hapkido and has been in the Martial Arts since 1982. Master DeSousa served in the US Air force and has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of New Hampshire.
Master DeSousa founded Martial Arts Advantage (formerly known as North West Taekwon-Do in 2003.
Martial Arts Advantage recently was voted the top school for 2018 from the UTA (United Taekwon-Do Alliance).
Martial Arts Advantage is located in Centerton AR, but also serves Bentonville, Gravette, Bella Vista, Cave Springs Pea Ridge, and Rogers. Our school is proud to have graduated over 125 Black Belts, making the communities of Northwest Arkansas better, one Black Belt at a time.