Edgemere martial arts academy opens
Academy now open for classes
Pastor/Grand Master William Donnell has combined martial arts training and practicing his Christian faith in a new style — Oshindo Karate — and now he is bringing that style to Edgemere.
On June 10, Donnell opened Shield of Faith Martial Arts Academy at 2231 C Lincoln Ave., at the site of the old Chesapeake Terrace Deli. While he has just opened his first academy, his experience in martial arts goes back nearly half a century.
Donnell began practicing Taekwondo at the age of seven. He had wanted to practice Kung Fu, but did not have anywhere to learn. He came across Taekwondo and the rest is history.
“Forty-six years I’ve been doing martial arts,” Donnell told the Eagle.
Joining the military while still in high school, he was stationed in South Korea following his graduation. He was a red belt at the time.
“I was highly excited because that was the home of Taekwondo,” he recalled.
During his time in South Korea, he studied under several masters and grand masters, earning his 1st dan black belt during this time.
Returning to the U.S., he studied in Texas, Delaware and, eventually, made his way to Maryland.
Today, Donnell is an 8th dan black belt in ShuriRyu, studying under Senior Grand Master Victor Moore.
He also holds a 7th dan black belt in Taekwondo Mookido, 7th dan Moo Duk Kwon, a black belt in Judo, a brown belt in Krav Maga and purple belt in Kenpo, Hap ki do and Kung Fu Monkey Boxing.
He will be inducted into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame during a ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, later this month.
Not only has Donnell studied many forms of martial arts, but he has created his own.
In 1985, he founded Oshindo, which means “the way of my self” defense. The form was officially recognized by the CMAC council of grand masters and Donnell himself was ranked 10th dan and founder of the system.
Oshindo is influenced by several other styles, including Krav Maga, Hap ki do and Taekwondo, though it has its own forms and techniques that set it apart.
In Oshindo, as in other forms of martial arts, the techniques are to be used for self defense — to increase confidence and discipline and allow the student to feel safer should danger arise. The techniques are not, Donnell stresses, to be used to attack others or start fights.”
“We make it that people can learn and have self-confidence walking down the street,” he explained.
He added, “We don’t want to be the aggressor,” noting that he teaches students to first attempt to de-escalate the situation verbally, while emphasizing that they “must be ready to defend yourself at a moment’s notice.”
This should be done not primarily through hitting but through “redirecting the energy of a person,” by blocking strikes, stepping aside and wearing them out/discouraging the attack.
A large part of Oshindo is spiritual.
An ordained pastor, Donnell has developed his style around Christian principals.
The colors of the belts correspond to Christian principals, and each rank has an accompanying Bible verse.
The first belt rank is white, for purity, with corresponding verse of Romans 3:23.
Following this are yellow (“blood,” Romans 5:8), green (“baptism,” Romans 6:4), blue (“clean,” Psalms 51:7), red (“growth,” 2Peter 3:18) and black (“worth,” Rev. 2:10). The highest rank is purple.
For Donnell, martial arts and religion go hand in hand.
It’s all about improving your frame of mind and strengthening both body and spirit.
“When you start in martial arts, you have a desire to learn something,” he said, noting, “Through martial arts training, we train you not to be aggressive but humble.”
Martial arts, he noted, also helps develop discipline and builds character and perseverance.
While Donnell is proudly a Christian martial artist, he does not require his students to be Christians.
“Do I push it on my students, no,” he said. “I don’t condemn anyone for their religious beliefs. This school is open to everyone.”
But for Donnell, he sees instructing others as a natural part of living his Christian faith.
“I’m a martial artist. I’m also a Christian,” he said. “I put the two together to help people.”
Donnell is hoping to start by helping youth right here in Edgemere, which he and his wife, Michelle, have called home for four years.
“We watch the youth around here,” he said, pointing to instances where he has encountered kids blocking traffic with their bikes, using foul language on the street and other negative behaviors.
“When I see our youth going crazy, I want to do something about it,” he said.
Martial arts, he said, teaches self respect, respect for others, humility and discipline.
Michelle added, “We want to be a positive influence in our community.”
Currently, Shield of Faith Martial Arts Academy offers classes for students ages 6 and up, in both group and private lesson formats.
Group classes are $100 per month, though they are currently offering a summer grand opening special of $70 per month for Oshindo Karate, $60 per month for Combato Cane (self defense using a cane) and $50 per month for Self Defense, now through Aug. 31.
For more, call the academy at 443-242-6044 or visit Shield of Faith Martial Arts Academy on Facebook.
Pastor/ Grand Master William Donnell instructs students at his Shield of Faith Martial Arts Academy in Edgemere.
Shield of Faith Martial Arts Academy just opened on Lincoln Avenue in Edgemere.
Pastor/Grand Master Donnell meditates at Shield of Faith Martial Arts Academy.
Donnell has studied several styles of martial arts.