New martial arts and fitness center coming to Eaton

By Jeremy Erskine -

Inside the Family Martial Arts and Fitness building at 113 N. Barron St. in Eaton.

EATON — A new dojo is coming to Eaton.

The Family Martial Arts and Fitness center has opened on 113 N. Barron St. and will offer classes in karate, women’s self-defense, kickboxing, and spinning.

The head instructor, Don Caponigro, is a seventh degree black belt and has been studying the ancient art for 50 years.

He recently moved to Eaton from Ft. Lauderdale, but has taught periodically in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Tipp City for the last 20 years. He also ran several dojos in Florida, always closing one gym to open a bigger one as classes grew. During his time there, he had around 100 black belts under him and was averaging about 30 people per class.

“I came up here when they had the Pork Fest, and I’ve come up a couple times to visit family, and I kind of liked the small town feel. There are no (karate) schools here, there aren’t any in Richmond, and I just thought it was a perfect opportunity to open up a school and help some people,” said Caponigro. “It’s good exercise, a lot of good stuff can come from it.”

Currently, the dojo holds karate classes three time a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. There are three levels of karate offered, based on age, starting with 5-11 for basic introductory karate, then 11-17 for more advanced course, and then a 17 and older class.

They also offer kickboxing on Tuesdays and Saturdays and offer a women’s self-defense course on Thursdays.

Caponigro brings the traditional style of Okinawan karate called Matsubayashi-Ryu to Family Martial Arts and Fitness and will focus more on the art form rather than competition.

“It’s old fashioned training. We do a lot of kicking and punching, a lot of blocks, a lot of old school type training. Just getting into the core of your being. A lot of mental building,” he said. “It’s not so much, where non-traditional would be more competition and free form karate. We still adhere to the standards of the old school Okinawa masters.”

They will, however, offer tournaments if people do want the competition, but the focus of the dojo will not be on that, Caponigro said.

Eventually Caponigro will offer spinning classes and hopes to get the bikes in by next month. But in the meantime, he hopes to grow his clientele and make a difference to some people around the county.

“I hope to see full classes every night and help as many people as I can in Eaton. In karate, there are so many benefits. Kids want to play sports, they come in here and learn a little bit more coordination, teach some self-defense to adults – nowadays, you got to know it – and hopefully to some of the EMTs and law enforcement,” he said. “I’m looking for an on-going program where people can come and get some exercise and some self-defense.”

The business is located on 113 N. Barron St. and can be reached at 954-662-5579.

Inside the Family Martial Arts and Fitness building at 113 N. Barron St. in Eaton. the Family Martial Arts and Fitness building at 113 N. Barron St. in Eaton.

By Jeremy Erskine

Reach Jeremy at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.

Reach Jeremy at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.