2020 May 29
Mr. Bryan Fagerstrom, owner of Range Martial Arts, posted on Facebook about 11am on Thursday, May 28, 2020, announcing the closing of the Chisholm location. There are no words that I can speak nor write that can express the emotions that have been going on here. I will never be the instructor that those before me have been - and that is okay. We all have different paths we follow, and sometimes they converge further down the road to meet up again. I hope that myself and the other instructors at Range Martial Arts East are able to be enough to carry on the legacy and family bonds that have made the school in the two locations strong. We have had a number of really great instructors and masters that have supported both locations over the years, and will have many more as we move forward.
All students past or present that are wanting to continue their training are encouraged to message us as we transition into online sessions starting June 1. Only time will tell what the future holds, and the support we've had from students and their (own) families throughout the years keeps me optimistic.
I was going to post a video but after two attempts, I just could not do it, so I will instead try and write it out (sorry, it got kinda long). Owning and operating Range Martial Arts is and has been, both significant and life-changing for me. When I purchased the school from Mr. Yukich in 2003, I had no idea what I was doing but I did know that I loved the martial arts and I loved teaching it. With Ramona Wickstrom by my side, I felt we could really make something out of it. And boy was I right!
One of my greatest joys was teaching the kids, to see their energy and zeal for life was intoxicating and it pushed us to be more creative, more energized, and more committed to our children's program. Over the years I had the privilege of seeing hundreds of kids pass through our programs. Many of these kids are now grown, married, and being a positive influence on society. At Range Martial Arts we prided ourselves on being a family school that didn't just teach techniques but helped develop in students the drive, determination, respect, honor, and general love for others that would permeate their lives. The values set by Mr. Steve Yukich was always at the forefront of our minds as we interacted with students throughout the week. I know that the influence of the martial arts has kept some students from traveling down a path of hurt, pain, and disappointment.
Our business model was never to make money but to teach martial arts. I never drew a paycheck and the black belt instructors volunteered their time. All the revenue generated was reinvested back into the school to help it grow.
Two years ago I injured my back as a firefighter working at a house fire. I have undergone 2 back surgeries and am scheduled for a fusion in July. This has taken me out of the mix to teach martial arts for at least another year. As many of you know, we have been closed since March 17th with no way of generating revenue and with still great uncertainty as to when martial arts schools will be able to open. I know that many martial arts schools are in the same predicament as we are. However, our Chisholm location has taken an even greater hit with my inability to be able to teach and get us back up and running at full strength once restrictions are listed in order to make up for our on-going expenses during our closure. The other hurdle that we face is that because we do not have payroll we are disqualified from any of the grant funding. We are eligible for loans but not grants and with my current health conditions and unknown future cannot invest any more of my personal money into the school.
And so it is with tears in my eyes as I write this that I am announcing that after 30 years of teaching the martial arts here on the Iron Range, Range Martial Arts in Chisholm will not be re-opening.
We are focusing our efforts at this time in trying to keep Range Martial Arts East in Virginia afloat long enough to weather the storm. All paid tuitions in Chisholm will be transferred to RMA East in Virginia. I know there will be some hardships associated with this but I am glad that we are still currently able to offer an option for students to continue their training. We are currently in the process of liquidating assets in an effort to resolve any of the remaining debt of the school. Justin Koivisto indicated that he would be interested in taking over ownership of Range Martial Arts LLC which owns both locations, and those details are being worked out at this time. I apologize for the long note but I want to thank the community of Chisholm and surrounding areas for a loyalty that kept us strong for many years. In its 30 years of existence, we never paid for any regular advertising but depended solely on word of mouth. Parents, thank you for entrusting your kids to us to teach, encourage, love, and train. That will be by far the hardest part to move on from. I know there will probably be lots of questions, so stay tuned for further details. We will be posting our remaining merchandise to be sold shortly and also any future details of the transition to RMA East.
As a leader and practitioner of the martial arts, admitting defeat with my ability to keep the doors of RMA open has proven to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. If you ever want to see a black belt cry, watch a school owner sitting in an empty karate studio knowing that there will never be another student entering those doors. However, in the martial arts, we are trained to embrace these hardships with an indomitable spirit, and we had a great run here at Range Martial Arts and I would like to wish all the RMA family the best. I want to challenge all the RMA students to stick it out and when things open up again, get plugged into RMA East which carries on the tradition of martial arts excellence and family experience under the tutelage of Mr. Justin Koivisto.
With my greatest sincerity and sadness,
Range Martial Arts LLC