Longtime family-run martial arts studio teaches life lessons
Owners Mike Clampitt, his wife Nancy and daughter Mollie are fixtures in Morgan Hill
Published in the March 2-15, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Robert Airoldi
At the United Academy of Martial Arts, instructors teach physical skills to master the martial arts. But, perhaps more importantly, they help teach students self discipline, focus and respect.
“What we offer for our kids is the knowledge of fitness, health and nutrition,” said Mollie Clampitt, a fifth-degree black belt who along with her father Mike and mother Nancy operate the facility. “We don’t focus on just one developmental aspect, everything in their lives needs to be working for them.”
The Clampitts have owned and operated the studio in Morgan Hill since 1992, having successfully relocated from the Depot Center to their new facility on Digital Drive. They’ve seen thousands of students come through their doors, about 400 of whom have achieved the level of black belt.
Although their techniques are based on centuries old knowledge, it is their application of that knowledge that sets them apart, said Mike Clampitt a seventh-degree black belt.
“We realize each person possess different natural abilities,” said Clampitt, the founder. “Our program is individualized to match your physical capabilities in order to maximize your self defense skills.”
Mike Clampitt, who graduated with a bachelors degree and a secondary teaching credential from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters Degree in Education from the University of San Francisco, moved to Morgan Hill in 1972. He accepted a job to start an Advanced Placement program at Live Oak High School teaching AP English and humanities.
“We found out that we loved it here so we bought a house here and stayed here,” Clampitt, now 66, said of he and his wife Nancy. Nancy now teaches the super junior program — ages 4 to 6.
“My goal is to help my students develop a love of learning and to appreciate the satisfaction of achieving a goal,” she said.
In addition to the super junior program, the studio offers classes in the junior program — ages 7 to 13 and the adult program for those 14 and older.
Many of the students who go through the United Academy of Martial Arts programs go on to become instructors. And many of those instructors then go on to universities and colleges to further their education.
“By the time they decide they want a job they learn quickly that they don’t want to work at Taco Bell or McDonald’s,” Mike said. “They want to work here. We do have instructors leave. We know they are going to universities and colleges and that is our goal for them. We keep building from within and those instructors influence their students. It works really well.”
Most of the instructors started at UAMA as Super Juniors and progressed through the classes.
“A majority have been working here more than 10 years,” Mollie said. “All black belts go through a 24-month leadership college that my father has put together which includes reading manuals, taking tests and participating in workshops to become instructors.”
One of those students who went through the program was Mollie, who went on to graduate from Live Oak High School. Now 34 and married with a young son, she has been working at the studio most of her adult life.
“This is my passion,” she said, glancing around proudly at the new facility. “We are constantly working to better our program.”
To earn a black belt takes some time. Once a student has been taking classes for three years or so they get to enter the black belt program, which takes six months. They must have a 3.0 grade point average and have passed the Presidential Fitness Program.
“We have a big celebration at the end,” Mollie said. “You can see the transformation in their discipline. It’s like a mini college. We make them accountable for their actions. It’s an amazing program. They learn to really connect. At that point they realize that they’re going to be role models and they lead by example.”