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Petaluma Taekwondo studio named ATA School of the Year

When COVID-19 forced the closure of almost all indoor activity, including sports, Nicholas Schafer and wife, Bre, co-owners of Schafer’s Martial Arts, moved their training to the parking lot in front of their studio on Redwood Way.

The outdoor classes proved so popular that Senior Master Nicholas Schafer continued outside classes after the indoor facility reopened.

Despite the pandemic and the changes it has necessitated, it has been a special year for Schafer’s Martial Arts. Not only did students and instructors from the Petaluma studio earn many medals at the recent American Taekwondo Association World Championships, but the studio was selected the national association’s School of the Year.

“It is special,” Nicholas Schafer said. “There are more than 600 schools around the country and the Masters Council selected us School of the Year. We feel very honored.”

Schafer said he believes the Petaluma school’s selection was a result of its excellent staff and its response to the pandemic.

“We realized it couldn’t be business as usual,” he said. “There were some pretty stringent guidelines and there were a lot of challenges, but every time an obstacle came up, we pivoted and made it work.”

Schafer said the school began offering classes via ZOOM, “and our business dropped off a ton.”

As a result, he made a key pivot.

“We started teaching outdoors in our parking lot and the students loved it,” he said.

The younger students loved it so much that, even though the studio is now open, some classes for younger students are still being held outside.

At the World Championships in Phoenix, Schafer’s Martial Arts added to its reputation with several individual medals. Competing in the AAA Tournament of Champions were Schafer, Kaylee Baum, Carmeron Hadiputa, Cole Jayme, Raphael Anasco and Ben Thomas.

Schafer took second in forms and third in weapons; Baum placed third in forms; Hadiputra was second in both forms and weapons, while Jayme was first in both forms and weapons and third in xtreme forms and xtreme weapons.

It’s an impressive list in ATA World Championship competition, but not unusual for Schafer’s Martial Arts which has been teaching and training people of all ages since opening in Petaluma in South County in 2001.

Schafer and his staff now have more than 300 kids in the program, along with adults of all athletic abilities. Class members range from 4 ½ years of age to over 60.

The studio now works with nine elementary schools to provide after-school programs.

“When you come to a taekwondo class you feel like there is nothing wrong. Everyone has a smile on their face,” said Schafer.

For him, martial arts are more than fitness and self-defense, they are about teaching life skills like a positive mental attitude, high goal setting, perseverance, self control and confidence.

“It is a really fun way to work on character development,” he said.

Schafer’s parents enrolled him in a martial arts class when he was 12, and he has been pursuing it as a passion and a profession for the last 26 years. He is now a 7th Degree Taekwondo Black Belt.

He has also made it his life’s work.

“I have never had another job,” he said.

He opened Schafer’s ATA Martial Arts in the Community Center in Rohnert Park in 2001, added a small club in Petaluma in 2016 and then combined the two into what he calls his “dream school” on Redwood Way.

In addition to Schafer, the studio has two main instructors complemented by special guest instructors, and a staff of nine.

Bre Schafer, a former teacher who holds a masters degree in education, handles the business and detail side.

“She is the genius behind our success,” said Nicholas Schafer.

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