LAYTON — Throughout his elementary school years in Hawaii, Kage Smith suffered at the hands of bullies. At times, it was difficult for him to even ride his bike to school.
Under his father’s tutelage, Kage began studying self-defense through combat hapkido and mixed martial arts. Now 14, Kage is a USA World Champion and three-time second-place world finisher in mixed martial arts.
He no longer has a fear of bullies.
Pete Smith, Kage’s father, recently moved his family from Maui to West Point for the opportunity to share his skills as a combat hapkido instructor. He opened Kage and Steel Self-Defense Combat Hapkido at 1558 W. 700 North Hill Field Road in Layton.
“The biggest difference between combat hapkido and most martial arts is that this is the only martial art that is 100 percent self-defense,” said Pete Smith, 44. “We don’t do any static forms — it’s all real-world application.”
Smith explained that all hapkido kicks are below the belt. He also teaches target striking, with a keen knowledge of anatomy, rather than punching. His students learn how to take offensive postures and how to fall intentionally and safely.
“I wanted to offer the community 100 percent self-defense programs. Everybody can do it — from little kids to big kids, regardless of size. It’s not size contingent, it is technique contingent,” he said.
Smith is also an accomplished USA World Championship MMA fighter, placing second the past two years in the men’s advanced heavyweight division. However, he said he prefers to teach.
“That’s what I really like. My passion is teaching people and giving them some security.”
One of Smith’s current students, 7-year-old Cole King, showed off his new skills by safely throwing Kage — who is twice his size — to the ground.
Cole’s mother, Larna King, said her son takes combat hapkido courses as a means to defend himself against school bullies.
“There are a lot of kids that kick and hit and choke, and I really want (Cole) to be able to get them off (of him) without hurting them,” she said.
Smith said that his twice-weekly combat hapkido courses are for students of all ages. He also offers weekly courses in self-defense, as well as a one-time self-defense course on Saturdays.
“He’s a really good teacher. It’s amazing how he can show you how to punch when you don’t know how, and tell you what you are doing wrong in a nice way,” said Blair Moyes, 60, who studies combat hapkido.
Ann Moyes, 60, also participates in Smith’s hapkido course to learn how to defend against would-be attackers.
“I can walk down the street, go to my car in the dark or leave my car in the dark, and I’m not afraid. I know I can hurt somebody if they try something. I can get away. It’s a good feeling,” she said.
While Smith’s training emphasis is on combat hapkido, he is also training a select few to compete in this month’s USA World Championships in mixed martial arts to be held in Las Vegas.
Smith or one of those he trains has appeared in the world championships in nine different competitions in the past two years, always placing one competitor in the top two of their division. They compete against MMA fighters from across the globe.
Kage hopes to repeat his 2010 World Champion title.
“I want to be able to defend myself,” he said. “It’s given me a lot more confidence. I think I have a lot more confidence since I started hapkido.”
More information about Smith’s studio can be found by calling 801-200-5349 or by logging on to www.facebook.com/SelfDefenseCombatHapkidoCenter.