This is the third in a series that is designed to introduce the community to West Haven restaurants, businesses, and hidden gems! This week we take behind the scenes view of West Haven health and fitness businesses where you can move a muscle or two!
Through dogged determination to follow his dreams, Charles Ferraro turned his life-long passion into a thriving business—helping others build their skills and confidence along the way. At the age of 12, he began training in Martial Arts at Painter Park with local martial artists.
Ferraro continued to perfect his craft through college and graduate school and after landing his first job his co-workers would ask him to teach them.
“I tried to discourage them by telling them I would teach them on Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. at the same park I saw folks practicing martial arts at years before. I really didn’t think anyone would show up at that hour so, you can imagine my surprise that when I went to the first class there were five students waiting for me. During our practices cars would go by and honk their horns at us. I wasn’t sure if they were friendly honks or honks meant to mock us. As the weeks went by people began to stop and inquire if they could join us for class. After about two months or so we had a dozen people practicing martial arts,” said Ferraro.
Realizing that there was interest in martial arts, Ferraro signed a three-year lease and launched a studio in Westville where he began his business before moving his school to the Boston Post Road in West Haven. Upon his move he changed the name to the West Haven Academy of Karate, which has been a fixture of the community now for the past 42 years.
“Over the years well over 20,000 students have come through our doors. I have had the privilege to guide over 4,000 students to black belt and over 450 students to the Master level explained Ferraro.
The school (dojang in Korean) teaches a traditional Korean martial art called Tang Soo Do, which Ferraro learned from the son of the founder of the art, Grandmaster Hyun Chul Hwang.
“At the West Haven Academy of Karate we offer classes in Tang Soo Do Karate to men, women and children from 5 years old and up. Tang Soo Mi Guk Kwan is both an empty hand system as well as a system of specific weapon training and our practitioners become well versed in both,” said Ferraro.
With over forty years of experience working with children, classes focus on self-defense, self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership training and physical conditioning. While competition is not mandatory, it is available and students compete in national, state and local competitions for those who desire it.
“We are one of the oldest operating martial arts schools in Connecticut, and we have a proven track record. Our sparring team is both internationally and nationally acclaimed having won the national Team Sparring Championships 14 times in 20 years,” exclaimed Ferraro, “The training is on par with the finest anywhere and those that train here are competent and confident that they are learning correctly.”